With the right diet and eating habits, our health can stay in the green for years to come —even our hearing. New research indicates that following a specific healthy diet or adding in specific foods can help keep our hearing sharp as we age.
Lead study author, Sharon Curhan, MD, of Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, spoke to Woman’s World about recent findings published in the American Journal of Epidemiology discussing the link between a healthy diet and a reduction in hearing loss. Curhan notes that it’s a common belief that hearing loss is a natural part of the aging process. However, she highlights that accumulating research suggests that tweaks in our diet and lifestyle may be able to prevent hearing loss or delay its progression.
Curhan and the other researchers wanted to look at how participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II diets resembled some well-established and currently recommended dietary patterns. For this study, they focused on the Mediterranean and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diets. Both diets place a heavy emphasis on eating foods like veggies, fruits, and whole grains while reducing fat and sugar intake. They’ve gained popularity over the years for benefits such as lowering heart disease risk, high blood pressure, and promoting healthy aging.
The study included 3,135 women (average age of 59 years) who were asked to complete food-frequency questionnaires. Researchers use these questionnaires to measure how closely their daily eating habits resembled each of the diets to better understand how it impacted their hearing. Curhan tells us that those who patterned their eating habits after the Mediterranean and DASH diets had a 30 percent lower risk of hearing loss. “Given that hearing loss is so common, a 30 percent lower risk is considerable,” she adds.
The researchers also completed a detailed hearing study supplemental questionnaire among some of the participants and found more results. She mentions that they found a 37 percent reduced risk in women who filled out the questionnaire and had closely mirrored their eating habits after these two diets. This led the researchers to conclude that hearing loss can be prevented through a healthy diet because it can aid in blocking any disruption of blood flow to the ears, reducing oxidative damage, and nix inflammation.
Curhan suggests adding more fish such as salmon or trout to your diet to help nourish your body with omega-3 fatty acids, which has been shown to ward off hearing loss. Getting the right amount of nutritional compounds such as beta-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin every day through veggies like carrots, leafy greens, and sweet potatoes has also been linked to protecting hearing. She emphasizes that healthy fats including avocado and olive oil along with eating more whole grains are other diet staples that can help make sure your hearing stays intact.
This study should give us some reassurance that there are plenty of tasty everyday foods that can help prevent us from losing our hearing over time!