We all know that exercise, a good night’s sleep, and a healthy diet are the foundation of a healthy lifestyle, but did you know that eating certain foods may actually lower your risk of hearing loss? Healthcare professionals have been prescribing healthy diets to combat numerous illnesses such as obesity, diabetes, and even depression, and it is known to reduce your chances of stroke, heart diseases, and many other ailments, but a new study has found that eating healthy may also reduce the risk of acquired hearing loss. Conducted by researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the study had concluded that patients whose diet closely resembled a healthy dietary pattern saw a substantial drop in risk when it came to a decline in their mid-frequency hearing sensitivity. Despite all of the other incredible benefits of eating healthy, preserving your hearing may be another reason to skip the sugar and pick up the broccoli.
Just as healthy eating may reduce weight, fight off disease, or simply make you feel better, certain minerals and vitamins are known to help protect your hearing as well. Studies have found hearing benefits to nutrients such as Folic Acid and Magnesium, linking them to increased blood flow to fragile sensory cells in the ear, reducing the chances of premature hearing loss, while others have concluded that low Potassium may be a culprit in hearing loss. These vitamins and minerals, alongside others such as Omega-3 Fatty Acids, are all part of a balanced diet that may just protect your hearing in the future by interacting with the structures and processes that are used when your body processes sound.
Dr. Sharon Curhan, an epidemiologist and lead author of multiple studies focusing on diet and hearing loss from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, found that a balanced pattern of healthy eating was far more effective than any specific diet. “Vegetables and fruits, and nuts and legumes, and whole grains and healthy fats, in particular, olive oil, and moderate alcohol intake,” claims Curhan while also stressing the importance of balance, adding that reducing grains, refined sugars, red meat, and processed foods makes all the difference.
Using over 20 years of dietary intake information from the Nurses’ Health Study II Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS), researchers compared participant’s diets to the diets that CHEARS deemed healthy. Then, a team of trained audiologists following standardized CHEARS methods measured changes in pure-tone hearing thresholds in 19 test sites across the United States over the course of three years. The study had concluded “the odds of a decline in mid-frequency hearing sensitivities were almost 30 percent lower among those whose diets most closely resembled healthful dietary patterns, compared with women whose diets least resembled the healthful dietary patterns. The odds were up to 25 percent lower in the higher frequencies.”
These results are critical to the understanding of hearing loss, speech, and diet says Dr. Curhan, “We were surprised that so many women demonstrated hearing decline over such a relatively short period of time,” she explains, “After only three years, 19 percent had hearing loss in the low frequencies, 38 percent had hearing loss in the mid-frequencies, and almost half had hearing loss in the higher frequencies. Despite this considerable worsening in their hearing sensitivities, hearing loss among many of these participants would not typically be detected or addressed.”
It is clear that a healthy diet can benefit us in all aspects of our life, but studies such as Dr.Curhan’s are further highlighting its importance when it comes to our hearing. For information regarding a healthier diet for your particular lifestyle, seek out the advice of a hearing health professional and begin protecting your hearing for the long-term.