A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss       

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

Jennifer G. Mayer, Au.D., CCC-A

You can think about just about every health issue having a connection with healthy eating. Things like heart disease and diabetes have clear links to your diet, but there are also mental health benefits. Many who eat balanced diets record higher feelings of general well being, and recent medical work has reinforced the body-mind relationship. You may already be on board with a healthy approach to food due to the many benefits of proper nutrition.

Yet, a surprising connection to avoiding an unforeseen condition is identified by new research: hearing loss. Although researchers still don’t understand precisely how hearing loss and diet are related, a recent study has highlighted the connection and is leading to a whole new area of research.

Let’s take a look at the types of diet the study prescribes and how it can prevent future hearing problems.

The study finds a link between eating and hearing loss

A recent study has pointed to the potential for a link between healthy eating and lower hearing loss rates.

Brigham and Women’s Hospital researchers used 19 different testing sites across the U.S. and recruited women to monitor their hearing rates at a baseline, and again after three years. The hearing loss rates were then linked to their recorded eating behaviors. The researchers were interested in learning how the participant’s diets matched two diets that were known to be associated with several beneficial health measures: DASH (Dietary Strategies to Avoid Hypertension) and the Mediterranean Diet.

The results were astonishing. Those women who adopted a diet similar to a DASH or Mediterranean diet over the last 20 years had considerably less hearing loss than their peers with less healthy foods, especially in the mid-range frequencies – an area essential for spoken communication.

“A common perception is that hearing loss is an inevitable part of the aging process. However, our research focuses on identifying potentially modifiable risk factors — that is, things that we can change in our diet and lifestyle to prevent hearing loss or delay its progression,” according to the author of the study Sharon Curhan, MD, a physician and epidemiologist in the Brigham’s Channing Division of Network Medicine. “The benefits of adherence to healthful dietary patterns have been associated with numerous positive health outcomes, and eating a healthy diet may also help reduce the risk of hearing loss.”

Future research is needed to examine the impact on men, women of other ages, and other demographic groups because this study only focused on white women between 50 and 65 years of age.

Another surprise in the research was the prevalence of hearing loss typically demonstrated by the respondents. Nearly half of the research subjects had high-range hearing loss, and 38 percent had mid-range hearing loss. With such striking numbers overall, the study also bought home how common age-related hearing loss was.

DASH / Mediterranean: The perfect diet against hearing loss?

These two diets proved to be very most when it came to preventing loss of hearing. Let’s take a closer look at each approach.

Mediterranean 

The traditional Mediterranean diet is based on the foods available in countries that border the Mediterranean sea. The foundation for this balanced diet requires an abundance of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, and legumes, which are minimally refined, seasonally fresh, and locally produced. Olive oil is the primary source of fat in combination with cheese and butter, fish, and poultry. Red meat is rarely eaten, and meals are finished with fresh fruit and a glass of wine.

DASH

DASH stands for ‘Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension’. The DASH diet is an approach to eating intended to help control or avoid high blood pressure. The DASH diet program was developed as a way to reduce blood pressure without resorting to medication.

The DASH diet emphasizes less sodium in your diet and eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods that help reduce blood pressure, such as foods containing potassium, calcium, and magnesium. You could reduce your blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks by adopting the DASH diet.

Treating Hearing Loss

Now that you know a healthy diet can reduce the risk of hearing loss, take a closer look at what you eat, and make healthy choices for your overall health and well being as well as your ears. If you have been struggling to hear, or want more tips about protecting your hearing, contact us for all your hearing needs.