Posted on Thursday, December 12, 2013

Hearing Loss and Obesity

A doctor smiles, encouraging weight loss to lower hearing loss risk

It is now more widely known that hearing loss can occur because of lack of blood flow to the delicate hairs within the inner ear. Hearing loss due to diabetes and Meniere’s are both conditions where lack of blood flow is thought to be to blame. Now, researchers have found that obesity—another condition where a lack of blood flow could be a factor—creates a higher risk of hearing loss.

A recent study conducted at Birgham and Women's Hospital at their Channing Division of Network Medicine found women who are heavier and exercise less have an increased risk of hearing loss. According to an article on Science Daily, "Researchers found that women with a BMI of 30-34 had a relative risk for hearing loss that was 17 percent higher, and with a BMI of 40 or more had a relative risk that was 25 percent higher, when compared with those with a BMI of less than 25."

The studies also indicate that women who exercise more--two hours a week--had a 15% reduction in their risk for hearing loss. Both the obesity and exercise factors seem to indicate that blood flood plays an important part in preserving hearing loss. This finding also demonstrate that hearing loss is not necessarily inevitable with age and that individuals can take steps to preserve their hearing. In addition to increasing physical activity, keeping a healthy weight, there are vital nutrients that can help to preserve hearing.

There are two important nutrients that help maintain good hearing—no matter what its current level, folic acid (also called folate) and B12.

Folic acid is a B vitamin complex that helps make healthy new red blood cells. Lack of folic acid can negatively affect homocysteine levels, which can slow down blood flow. Good blood flow is essential in bringing nutrients to the small capillaries of the ears, thus folic acid’s crucial role in good hearing health. Folic acid can be found in a good multivitamin and in the following foods:

Enriched breads, cereals, and other grains have folic acid added to them. For the exact amount of folic acid contained in these products, check out the labels.
Rich leafy greens—like Spinach and bell peppers, avocado, cabbage, fennel, collard greens, romaine lettuce, turnips, cauliflower, cucumber, and squash. The Whole Foods website provides a daily value for folate or folic acid foods.
Minimally processed fruits and fresh squeezed juices like orange, grapefruit, papaya, and tomato all contain folic acid.
Seeds, like sunflower, and many different types of beans like kidney beans, black eyed peas, black beans, navy beans, and chickpeas.

B12 and folic acid work in similar manners, keeping blood cells happy and lowering homocysteine levels to improve or maintain good hearing..

B12 attaches naturally to proteins in food and is released through the digestion process of our stomachs. According to the Office of Dietary Supplements, when B12 is added to foods, and it is routinely, it does not require this releasing process. The key to getting enough B12 is to consume a variety of lean meats, dairy, fortified foods, and supplements, but also to make sure that you are absorbing these nutrients properly. Your general practitioner can test your B12 levels. Here is a list of where to find B12:

Clams are a great source of B12. Many great recipes for Clams Casino contain bell peppers and tomatoes, so it’s folate rich as well!
Liver is a good source of B12 (pregnant women should not eat liver). Liver can be steamed or fried with onions or spices, and if you want to mash it up until it’s unrecognizable as liver, try pâté!
Fish, like trout, salmon, and haddock are all rich in vitamin B12.
Meats, dairy, and eggs are all a good source of B12, but since high level of cholesterol can also negatively impact hearing, it's wise to go for lean versions of these foods or invest in a good a supplement.

If you'd like to learn more about hearing loss, hearing heath, and hearing aids click HERE to DOWNLOAD our free guide to hearing health!

This guide will teach you:
▪ The 3 different types of hearing loss
▪ How to help a loved one hear you
▪ 8 different hearing aid styles
▪ Advances in digital and wireless hearing aid technology.


Brigham and Women's Hospital (2013, November 25). Obesity associated with higher risk of hearing loss in women. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 12, 2013, from http://www.sciencedaily.com­ /releases/2013/11/131125121912.htm

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