You’ve probably heard that preventative care is crucial to maintaining your hearing health, but did you know part of that care happens at the dinner table? A new study has positively linked healthy eating to improved hearing health, highlighting how the important systems and senses of the body are all connected.
New Research Emerges
At Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital, part of the Harvard Medical School, newly published research outlines how over the long term, a healthy diet is linked to better resistance to hearing loss, even as we age. Studying women in their 50s and 60s across America, the study correlated 20 years of dietary information with 3 years of monitored hearing testing. During the short period of the hearing tests, differences emerged surprisingly quickly between the testing performance of those who observed healthy eating patterns and those who didn’t.
Healthy eaters were found to be 30% less likely to develop mid-range hearing loss and 25% less likely to develop hearing loss of high frequencies. This is especially significant when looking at how much hearing loss was observable even during the three-year window of the study. Half of the study subjects showed hearing loss in the high-frequency range, 38% had worsening mid-range hearing and 19% had hearing loss develop in lower frequency sounds. With hearing decline so prevalent, the advantages of maintaining a healthy diet seem to have a preventative effect.
Aging and Preventative Approaches
As we age, our risk of hearing loss greatly increases. In part, this is because permanent hearing loss is cumulative, with gradual damage compounding into more and more hearing loss as our life progresses. This accrual of hearing damage is also encouraged by the way our auditory system ages, with the tiny parts of the ear becoming more fragile and prone to damage as our body becomes older.
The risk of hearing loss as we age shows what a dramatic effect these two factors have in conjunction with each other. For people aged 65-75 about one-third of the population has significant hearing loss. After age 75, that risk jumps to one half of the population. Exponentially, that number rises at age 90 when nearly nine out of ten people will be living with hearing loss.
This current emerging research indicates that despite how aging changes the body and makes us vulnerable to hearing loss, we can still take preventative action to maintain our hearing.
Food-Based to Diet-Based Approaches
The Boston study demonstrates a shift in how we think about dietary factors and hearing health. Research of the past has linked certain foods or food groups to improved hearing outcomes, such as people who consumed plenty of fish in their diets also demonstrating a lower incidence of hearing loss. Now, for the first time, research is showing that rather than specific foods, dietary patterns as a whole may be a determining factor in hearing loss.
A balanced diet full of fresh, unprocessed foods has the advantage of incorporating many of the singular foods found to have a link to hearing health. Adherence to healthy eating patterns is also linked to conditions such as better circulation and cardiac performance that ultimately benefit our hearing. When the tiny blood vessels in our inner ear don’t receive enough blood flow and oxygen it can starve the delicate cells our hearing depends on. Improving bodily fitness through diet can
Give Your Hearing a Hand
Want to help your hearing? A balanced, nutritious diet is a great place to start. A healthy diet is linked to many systems in your body working well, especially as you age. By keeping the auditory system nourished and reducing the risk of hearing loss, making a habit out of healthy eating is a great long-term preventative strategy for hearing health.
To keep your hearing healthy, you’ll also need to remember to protect your hearing from excess noise. Being exposed to dangerous noise levels can cause permanent damage to our hearing in minutes – or even seconds if the noise is loud enough. Always remember your hearing protection when you think you will be around loud noise.
The other key factor to life-long hearing health is remembering to have your hearing tested annually. An annual hearing exam can detect changes as they develop to make sure problems are treated before they can worsen. Ready to get control of your hearing health? A hearing exam at Enticare is your next step – contact us today!