Posted on Monday, January 02, 2012

Hearing Loss: Prevention Through Nutrition

There are many ways to support and maintain healthy hearing--protecting ears from noise pollution, turning down the music, and getting a regular checkup from an audiologist, but nutrition also plays a key part in hearing preservation. Studies confirm that hearing loss and poor nutrition go hand and hand. An Australian study reported on in the Journal of Nutrition, has shown that diets high in sugar and carbohydrates detrimentally impacts hearing. A similar study showed that diets high in cholesterol also contribute to hearing loss normally associated with aging. Cutting out sugary and cholesterol rich foods would be a good start to a hearing fitness plan, but good hearing nutrition doesn’t only take into account what a diet includes, but also what is lacking.

Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, but few people are aware that changing their nutrition can help guard against it.

Deficiency in nutrients, like B12 and folic acid can impair hearing by as much as 39% while increasing these nutrients, according to some studies, can protect hearing by as much as 20%. Folic acid deficiency specifically has been linked with high-frequency hearing loss. Research reported on in the December 2010 issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery indicates that deficiencies in folic acid and B12 impinge on hearing by harming the nervous and vascular systems and perhaps even damaging the coating over the cochlear nerve. Much of this damage is due to free radicals.

Antioxidants like B12, folic acid, Omega 3, and vitamin A are all important because they help fight off damaging free radicals.

Free radicals are everywhere and cannot be avoided, but the damage they inflict increases with poor nutrition and stress. Free radicals damage many parts of the body, so combating their presence with antioxidants not only protects hearing but has many other healthful benefits. An antioxidant rich diet can also help fight against ototoxicity, the damage some drugs like those used to battle depression and cancer can do to the inner ear.

Antioxidants are found in high quantities in healthy leafy greens and other foods like lentils, dried beans, and bananas. Substituting these nutritious foods for high cholesterol and high sugar foods would go a long way to preserving hearing and fighting off free radicals. Ensuring proper nutrition to protect and preserve hearing is best accomplished by visiting a nutritionist along with regular checkups with your audiologist.

If you'd like to learn more, see your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!

Gopinath Bamini, Flood M. Victoria, McMahon M. Catherine, Burlutsky George, Brand-Miller jennie, Mitchell Paul. (2010) Dietary Glycemic Load is A predictor of Hearing Loss in Older Adults. Nutr. December 1, 2010 vol. 140 no. 12 2207-2212 taken from: http://jn.nutrition.org/content/140/12/2207.abstract

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