A Healthy Diet Can Lower the Risk of Hearing Loss

In Hearing Health, Hearing Loss by Roselynn Gamboa Young, Au.D., CCC-A

Roselynn Gamboa Young, Au.D., CCC-A
Latest posts by Roselynn Gamboa Young, Au.D., CCC-A (see all)

Although hearing loss is quite common in older populations, there are lifestyle habits you can follow to reduce your risk of loss. Not only is it crucial to wear hearing protection when you are exposed to loud sounds and to limit your exposure to that sound whenever possible, but some other features of a healthy life have demonstrated a lower risk for hearing loss, as well. 

A 2020 study led by Sharon Curhan at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School has discovered a strong correlation between healthy eating and lower risk of hearing loss. Published in the American Journal of Epidemiology under the title “Prospective Study of Dietary Patterns and Hearing Threshold Elevation,” the researchers used a large data set and 3 years of data to discover if those who followed two eating styles—Dietary Approaches to Stopping Hypertension (DASH) and the Alternative Mediterranean Diet (AMED)—had an effect on hearing ability. The strong correlation between healthy eating and lower rates of hearing loss offers yet another reason to pursue a healthy diet. 

The Study

This study measured the changes in hearing ability over a three-year period for 3,135 women with an average age of 59 years old. By measuring the baseline and hearing ability three years later, they were able to detect rapid changes to hearing ability for these women. Controlling for other factors, they were also able to measure if self-reported adherence to these dietary styles had an effect on hearing ability. The results were striking. 

Particularly in higher frequency ranges, those women who had healthy diets demonstrated 25% lower risk for hearing loss over a 3-year period than their counterparts who did not have healthy diets. These results do not explain what healthy eating reduces the risk of hearing loss, and researchers have a more difficult task to understand how these two are related. It is possible that these diets are anti-inflammatory, and many correlate inflammation with age-related hearing loss. It is also possible that a healthier cardiovascular system permits more oxygen to flow to the ears, making sure they have the resources they need to stay in shape.

While researchers consider this relationship, you might be interested in pursuing one of these dietary approaches, so let’s consider what changes you can make to pursue a healthier lifestyle. 

The Diets

The two diets addressed by this study have much in common. Both the DASH diet and AMED diet emphasize whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables, and a variety of foods. Both of these diets also instruct their adherents to reduce their consumption of red meat, refined sugars, saturated and trans fats, and sodium. One of the differences between the diets is the role of seafood and olive oil, both encouraged by the AMED diet. The AMED diet also allows an adherent to drink a glass of red wine with dinner. 

These diets include such a delicious array of foods that they are easy to incorporate into your existing lifestyle habits, and a few modifications may be all that you need. In general, these diets suggest cooking your meals rather than buying processed foods that tend to be high in chemicals and preservatives. Once you are in the habit of cooking your meals, the possibilities are endless. Reducing the amounts of unhealthy foods doesn’t mean you can’t have them at all, and moderation is the key to finding a healthy lifestyle that you will be able to abide by. 

If you are ready to embark on one of these healthy dietary approaches, begin with a few changes that appeal to you. Perhaps rather than buying processed loaves of bread, you would like to try your hand at baking a whole wheat loaf of your own. If baking isn’t your thing, you might want to introduce a fresh salad to the start of your meals, making sure you get some unprocessed veggies each day. These simple modifications can take you in the direction of better health, and that health not only has benefits for your heart, lungs, hair, and skin but also potential benefits for your future hearing ability. Why not take the opportunity of the new year to pursue a delicious healthy diet?

Treating Hearing Loss

A healthy diet can support your overall health and well-being and even benefit your hearing health. The best way to ensure your best hearing health is to monitor your hearing abilities with an annual hearing test. If you’ve experienced changes in your hearing or are concerned about your hearing abilities, contact us today for a comprehensive hearing health exam.