Hearing is something we don’t often think about but it is essential to how we navigate daily life and our relationships. Hearing health tends to be taken for granted until one experiences decline. Over 48 million, nearly 1 in 8, people are impacted by hearing loss making it the third most common health condition people live with today. Hearing loss is a permanent medical condition so extensive research focuses on prevention. Studies show that diet is a modifiable risk factor that can actually support hearing health. In fact, there are specific nutrients that boost hearing. Integrating these nutrients into your diet can help you support your hearing health, reducing the risk of hearing loss.
Impact of Diet on Hearing
Research shows that there is a link between diet and hearing health. Studies reveal that healthier dietary patterns can reduce the risk of developing hearing loss. A significant study that investigates this link was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital evaluated 81,818 people over a 22 year period. Participants had their hearing tested and provided dietary information every 4 years. Researchers found that people with healthier dietary patterns were:
- 25% less likely to develop high frequency hearing loss
- 30% less likely to develop mid-frequency hearing loss
This data shows that people eating healthier were significantly less likely to experience hearing loss. These findings support further research that shows that diet is a modifiable factor that can help change the trajectory for hearing health.
Experts suggest that the nutrients provided in healthier dietary patterns are beneficial to the body’s systems including the auditory system – the sensory system for hearing. Healthier diets decrease the risk of developing health issues like hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes which affect blood flow. These conditions can damage blood vessels and impact circulation throughout the body including the inner ear where sound is processed. Healthier diets also support cells, tissue, and blood flow which are integral to absorbing and processing speech as well as sound.
Nutrients that Boost Your Hearing Health
After assessing the dietary patterns of the participants who experienced a reduced risk of hearing loss, researchers were able to categorize them. They realized that they resembled commonly known diets including: Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), Alternative Healthy Eating Index (AHEI-2010). These diets are rich with vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Additionally, they emphasize reduced or no consumption of processed foods and limited intake of meat as well as alcohol. This provides intake of numerous nutrients that are great for the body including the hearing system. This includes:
- Folate: high folate levels support blood flow and circulation throughout the body including the inner ear where sound waves are processed. Folate can be found in: spinach, asparagus, beans, broccoli, eggs, liver and nuts.
- Vitamin C: this nutrient supports the auditory brainstem. This helps auditory information to reach the brain where sound signals are further processed and assigned meaning to, allowing us to understand what we hear. Foods rich in vitamin C include: bell peppers, broccoli, leafy greens, citrus fruits, and brussel sprouts.
- Magnesium: this nutrient helps provide a protective barrier for the sensory cells in the cochlea. The sensory cells help convert incoming sound waves into electrical signals which get sent to the brain to be further processed. Foods high in magnesium include: potatoes, broccoli, tomatoes, flax seeds, bananas, and artichokes.
- Potassium: potassium helps maintain levels of fluid in the body. This includes the fluid in the cochlea which works with sensory cells to translate soundwaves for the brain. Foods rich with potassium include: mushrooms, sweet potatoes, spinach, avocados, and cucumbers.
These nutrients support and protect components that are integral to how we hear and process sound. This includes cells, nerves, and blood flow which all play a role in effectively processing what we hear.
A great way to protect your hearing health is by integrating foods that are rich with these nutrients. This can be as simple as including more fruits and vegetables into everyday meals. Protecting your hearing health is key to your overall health and wellness. Contact us today to learn more about how you can best support your hearing needs.