It can help lower your risk of cancer and heart disease. It can boost your mood and help you manage anxiety. It can help prevent cognitive decline and improve memory. It can even help you manage your weight, improve gut health and boost your immune system. Now experts have found that it may also help you reduce your risk of hearing loss.
It’s not some magic pill or cream, though. It’s a healthy diet that can help you live a healthier life without the hearing loss.
According to a 2018 study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, following a healthy pattern of eating could reduce a woman’s risk of hearing loss by up to 30%. The study looked specifically at the Alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) during the study. Each of these eating plans focuses on whole, healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables, grains, legumes, nuts, and fish while limiting others such as processed meat and refined sugar.
During the 22-year study, researchers followed over 70,000 women, checking in with them every four years about their diet and hearing loss.
“Interestingly, we observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss,” said Sharon Curhan, MD, an epidemiologist in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, and first author of the study. “Eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss.”
The findings again underline that hearing loss is not a given. Many of our risk factors are within our control.
What is a healthy diet?
Each of the diets studied in the Brigham and Women’s Hospital study is grounded in the basic principles of healthy eating. While more research into how exactly a healthy diet reduces the risk of hearing loss is needed, you can start taking control of your hearing health today by following these pillars of a healthy diet:
- Strive for balance, not perfection – Most dietitians and health experts suggest eating mostly the good stuff, while leaving a little room for the other foods that may not work so hard for your hearing health.
- Make plants the foundation – Fruits and vegetables should take center stage to support your hearing health. Add in some whole grains, lean proteins and healthy fats to round out your meals.
- Limit the empty foods – Foods like processed meats and grain products, refined sugar, and alcohol are short on nutrition and, in excess, have been linked to many chronic illnesses. Every once in awhile, go for it, but for every day, skip them.
- Focus on these for hearing health – Recent studies have uncovered several nutrients and foods that may do double duty when supporting your hearing health such as:
- Salmon, mackerel, herring, flaxseed oil (Omega 3 fatty acids)
- Sweet potato, guavas, tofu, avocados, eggs (Magnesium + Vitamins A, C, E)
- Dark leafy greens, artichokes, legumes (Folate)
- Potatoes, chard, white beans (Potassium)
Support your hearing health with every bite you take!
If you have questions about hearing loss or believe you have hearing loss and would like to schedule a hearing evaluation, contact our office.