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Eating for Better Hearing Health
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Instead of following the siren’s song of whichever trendy Magic Bullet is currently making headlines, there are ways to pay attention to your eating patterns in a way that can protect and even boost hearing health.
The Link Between Diet And Hearing Health
There isn’t one direct link between a powerhouse food and healthy hearing. Instead, researchers have found correlations through the years between eating more Fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, fish, chicken, and low-fat dairy and favorable hearing health outcomes.
One such study, which collected data from more than 80,000 women over the course of over two decades, found that participants whose eating habits included more fruits and vegetables containing folic acid, potassium and zinc decreased their risk of hearing loss by up to 30 percent.
The Difference Between Vitamins And Minerals
Our bodies use vitamins and minerals to maintain its constant process of building new cells, easing nerve communications, and providing oxygen-rich blood to every corner of the system.
Vitamins are organic nutrients found in the plants. Minerals come from the earth and are transmuted into food via the soil that fruits or vegetables are grown in, or are ingested by the animals we eat.
Where To Find Zinc, Potassium And Folic Acid
Zinc and Potassium are minerals. Zinc can be found in meat, fish and seafood. For folks looking to eat a more vegetarian diet, there are high amounts of Zinc in legumes like beans and lentils. Bananas famously contain Potassium, although watermelon actually contain higher amounts of the mineral. Like Zinc, leafy greens contain Potassium as does nuts, dairy and squash.
Folic acid, or folate, is a B vitamin. Generally, folic acid is the supplement version while folate is the name given when naturally occurring in food items like leafy greens (spinach and broccoli), nuts and peas. It also occurs in fruits like oranges, lemons, bananas, melons and strawberries.
How These Minerals Might Influence Hearing Health
The inner ear contains the body’s highest concentration of Zinc. This mineral has been proven to assist in tinnitus treatment, a condition strongly associated with noise-induced hearing loss. Its main role is to help the body metabolize (or digest) foods, keeps your immune system functioning, and builds and repairs body tissues.
Potassium helps to regulate fluids within the body and in regards to hearing health, that matters because of the vital role that inner ear fluid plays in the hearing process. When the fluid within the inner ear is in balance, the integral inner ear cells are protected.
Folic acid, or folate, helps with the development of new cells and aids in boosting blood flow throughout the body. Healthy circulation is beneficial for hearing health because again, it helps the delicate inner ear cells thrive.
Best Diets For Overall Wellness
Avoid being caught up in the fad of whatever restrictive diet of the moment promises to deliver miracle results. Our bodies’ relationship with food is much more complicated than simply eliminating one type of food. The human body has evolved to utilize a wide variety of foods as a way to consume all of the nutrients we need. Most of these diets don’t work in the long term and we can’t predict hearing health (or any type of health) based solely upon weight or appearance, anyways.
The study cited above noted that particular diets, or eating habits that echo these diet’s principles, tended to result in better hearing health outcomes.
The DASH Diet
Devised by The National Institute of Health’s National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute in 1997 as part of an effort to lower blood pressure, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension has followers eating abundant whole grains, vegetables and fruits. Low or fat-free dairy can be included in smaller amounts while lean meat consumption is advised to one or less servings per day. Moderate inclusion of fats, oils, nuts and seeds are encouraged, as well as minimal sweets or added sugars.
The Mediterranean Diet
Invented by Ancel and Margaret Keys, a physiologist and biochemist respectively, and popularized in their bestselling book, How to Eat Well. Their diet guidelines have stood the test of time, as contemporary medical professionals rely on this diet to improve the health of their patients. There is an emphasis on vegetables, fruits, legumes (like beans and lentils) and nuts. Abundant whole grains are recommended, as well as healthy fats like Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Cheese, yogurt and fish can be consumed in moderate amounts while meat and poultry are kept to a minimum. Both butter and sweets are to be avoided when possible.
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