A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A

Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Jeff Baller, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Some of the preventative measures to ward off hearing loss are intuitive. Wearing hearing protection and limiting exposure to very loud sounds might feel like a no-brainer to keep your hearing ability long into the golden years of life. However, a recent study links a surprising lifestyle behavior to hearing ability: a healthy diet. Although researchers are still discovering the underlying connection that relates these two conditions, an exploratory study suggests that a healthy diet might keep hearing ability intact longer than those with unhealthy eating habits. Let’s take a look at this study as well as the types of foods that have been linked to hearing loss prevention.

Becoming a Healthy Eater

In a recent study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, research participants demonstrated a strong correlation between two particular types of diet and hearing loss prevention: the DASH (Dietary Approach to Stopping Hypertension) diet and Mediterranean diet. These two ways of eating have a lot in common. Both of these diets emphasize eating whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables. They both limit the consumption of red meat and sugary desserts. Where these two diets differ has to do with fats and oils. The DASH diet recommends limiting overall fat content, as well as saturated fats. The Mediterranean diet, on the other hand, encourages the use of olive oil and other hearth-healthy oils. The good news with both of these diets is that the possibilities for nutritious and delicious meals are almost endless. Completely in line with these two diets are not only vegetarian meals full of fresh vegetables and satisfying grains, but also seafood, poultry, nuts, and seeds. Of course, red meat can be consumed on special occasions, as well. The Mediterranean diet even allows adherents to drink wine in moderation—not bad!

Hearing Loss Prevention

The study correlated these diets with rates of hearing loss with remarkable results. Study participants checked in at 19 testing sites to capture their baseline hearing ability. They were also interviewed regarding their eating habits over the last 20 years to determine overall habits and trends. With this information in hand, the researchers allowed three years to pass before they tested the hearing of study subjects once again. Many of these individuals had experienced some hearing loss already, including 38 percent in the crucial midrange of human speech and nearly half at high frequencies. However, those with healthy eating habits that matched the DASH and Mediterranean diets demonstrated remarkably lower incidents of hearing loss. Specifically, these women had about 30 percent less likelihood of hearing loss in the mid range and 25 percent less likelihood in the high range. For future research, those running the study are curious to understand more about the connection between hearing loss and nutrition, as well as other confounding factors that might not have been observed in the study. They want to isolate what it is about heart health and nutrition that helped these women retain more hearing ability. Furthermore, they would like to expand the demographics of the study for more generalizability. The research subjects in this study tended to be white women in their 50s to early 60s with an average age of 59 years. Including more people in the study might give better clues to how the correlation works.

Knowing Your Baseline

If you are worried about hearing loss, it is essential to seek a hearing test right away. The sooner you seek out hearing assistance, the longer you will enjoy a full range of sound and ease of conversation. However, hearing tests are not only meant for those who suspect that they might be losing their hearing. Even those with excellent hearing ability can benefit from getting a hearing test. Knowing your baseline hearing ability is essential to tracking your progress in the future. You just might find that if you observe a heart-healthy diet like the DASH or Mediterranean diet that you can enjoy a full range of hearing much longer in life. Don’t delay making your appointment for a hearing test, and take steps now to improve your diet for not only your bodily health but even to prevent hearing loss!

Contact us at Professional Hearing Services today to learn more!