A nutritious, balanced diet is important for your overall health. New research shows that the foods you eat might have a profound effect on your hearing, as well. If you are suffering from hearing loss in Tucson, you might want to ease up on the Cheetos and fill your grocery cart with broccoli instead.
Does diet affect hearing loss?
A healthy, well-balanced diet helps keep the pounds from piling on; lowers your risk of heart disease and cancer and can help keep your memory sharp and prevent cognitive impairment later in life. It turns out what you eat may also affect how well you hear.
What did the study cover?
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital reviewed data for more than 3,100 women that spanned 20+ years to study the effects of diet on hearing. Results of their study were published in the American Journal of Epidemiology and showed that women who followed several popular diets that focus on consuming plant-based foods and healthy fats and staying away from processed foods and refined sugars. The women, whose average age was 59, participated in the following diets:
Which diets did they look at?
- The Mediterranean Diet
- The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet
- The Alternate Healthy Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) diet
Measurements in hearing thresholds were taken at testing sites over a three-year period. It found that these women experienced a 30 percent reduction in mid-frequency hearing loss and a 25 percent reduction in high-frequency hearing loss. The results mirror previous studies that have found these diets resulted in a decreased risk of hypertension, diabetes and death.
“A common perception is that hearing loss is an inevitable part of the aging process,” explained lead author Sharon Curhan, MD.
“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.”
Which diet was the best for slowing hearing loss?
All three diets proved beneficial; there wasn’t any particular one that proved to be better than the others. Experts theorize that these diets improve blood circulation, whereas diets that have a lot of high-fat foods can clog blood vessels, leading to poor blood flow to the inner ear that eventually causes hearing loss.
A similar 2018 study found that women who followed these diets were 30 percent less likely to develop moderate to severe hearing loss in contrast to their peers who did not follow any of the diets.
While these results are promising, experts caution that more studies are needed. This research focused solely on non-Hispanic white women; a more diverse population sample is needed to confirm that the benefits of healthy eating are similar for men and people of other races.
Regardless of the exact connection between diet and hearing, your Tucson audiologist recommends you always aim for balanced, nutritious meals with plenty of vegetables and lean meat.