Everyone knows that what you eat affects your overall health and wellbeing. A healthy diet allows you to maintain a healthy weight, have more energy, and wake up feeling great each and every day. Did you know that what you eat also has an impact on your ears? Several recent studies have shown that a healthy diet can lower your risk of hearing loss, and prevent or slow the progression of hearing loss.
Studying Healthy Diets and Hearing Loss
A 2018 study published in the Journal of Nutrition looked at how the food you eat can affect hearing loss. Sharon Curhan, MD, and her colleagues at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked closely at the connections between diet and hearing loss. They examined data from over 81,000 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II by filling out questionnaires every four years from 1991 to 2013. Curhan also led another study looking at data from over 65,000 women, again looking at diet and hearing loss.
In one of these studies, Curhan found that women who ate two or more servings of fish per week had a lower risk of hearing loss. In the other study, she found that women following the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet, or the Mediterranean diet were also less likely to have hearing loss. Both these diets include several servings of fish, as well as other foods high in long-chain omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. A healthy intake of these omega-3 fatty acids can lower your risk of hearing loss.
On the other hand, women who never ate fish or omega-3 fatty acids had a higher risk of hearing loss than women who regularly ate fish. Through these studies, Curhan shows that risk factors for hearing loss can be changed, and hearing loss isn’t inevitable! She encourages people to take steps to lower their risk of hearing loss. With simple lifestyle or dietary changes, you can lower your risk of hearing loss, or delay its progress.
What Should You Eat for Your Ears?
Eating a healthy diet is great for your body. You’ll enjoy lower cholesterol levels, lower blood pressure, and easily maintain a healthy weight. A healthy diet is also good for your ears. When you eat a healthy DASH or Mediterranean diet, you lower your risk of cardiovascular disease. This keeps your heart pumping oxygen rich blood throughout the body and to the ears, reducing the risk of damage to the cells in the inner ear.
The DASH and Mediterranean diets, as well as other healthy diets, promote planning your meals and snacks around vegetables, whole grains, herbs, nuts, fruits, and healthy fats such as olive oil and seeds. These should form the basis of every meal. Foods you should eat a few times a week include seafood, poultry, eggs, and beans. Dairy should be eaten only occasionally. Finally, red meat and pork should be eaten rarely.
Look After Your Hearing Health
Do you have hearing loss? If you’re struggling to hear clearly, you’ll soon notice a decrease in your overall quality of life. You may feel socially isolated, have a hard time connecting with family and friends, and even notice a decrease in your cognitive abilities. Hearing loss increases your risk of depression and even dementia. Hearing loss is also linked to more accidents, and a higher rate of hospitalizations.
Hearing loss affects millions of Americans, but that doesn’t mean it’s inevitable. Even a simple change in lifestyle or diet can have a big impact on your hearing health. By looking after your hearing health, you can prevent hearing loss, or slow its progression. Take a look at your diet, and see if you’re following a DASH or Mediterranean diet that’s rich is omega-3 fatty acids.
You can also look after your hearing health by protecting your ears from dangerously loud noise that can damage your hearing health. If you have hearing loss, treating your hearing loss will prevent or slow further hearing loss, and maintain your ability to hear the sounds around you. If you have mild, moderate, or severe hearing loss, visit us for a hearing test, and find the right hearing devices that will help you hear.