Nutrition is fundamental to our overall health, but very rarely do we learn about how our diets can impact our hearing. Nutrition and our ability to hear are indeed connected, and a bad diet can accelerate hearing loss.
No matter your age or gender, nutrition can have a negative impact on your hearing - despite this, there’s no specific foods that will 100 per cent cause or prevent hearing loss, and hearing loss cannot be restored through a diet change.
So, why does bad nutrition increase your chance of hearing loss? York Hearing Clinic explores the various reasons here, and will later look at the foods that can decrease your chance of suffering from hearing loss.
How obesity can affect your hearing
Bad nutrition often leads to weight gain and obesity, which can have a huge impact on your ability to hear.
Your ears require a healthy flow of blood and oxygen to function properly, and the vascular issues that follow as a result of obesity will affect your ability to hear. In fact, it has been found that when your heart uses more energy to pump blood around your body, the tiny hair cells in your inner ear can become permanently damaged.
This is known as vasoconstriction, which can put stress on the capillary walls of the inner ear and result in hearing loss. Once these hair cells have been damaged, they cannot be repaired.
Diabetes and hearing loss
Those who suffer from type II diabetes are also more likely to develop hearing loss than those who don’t suffer from it. In fact, type II diabetes almost doubles the risk of hearing loss.
While more research is needed to fully understand the relationship between type II diabetes and hearing loss, it’s believed that high blood sugar can damage blood vessels throughout the body (including the vast network of small blood vessels in your ears), while type II diabetes can also lead to damage of the auditory nerves.
What foods can decrease the chance of hearing loss?
As mentioned earlier, there are no specific foods that will 100 per cent prevent hearing loss - but a healthy diet with good nutrition will go along way to prevent you from experiencing hearing loss at some stage in your life.
To analyse this further, a study released in 2018 by the Brigham and Women’s Hospital monitored the hearing health of more than 70,000 women on various diets for 22 years.
It looked at diets such as Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Shop Hypertension (DASH), and Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010). All these diets favour fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, legumes, whole grains, seafood, poultry, and low-fat dairy - while limiting foods that are high in sodium and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, such as refined and red meats, processed foods, and sugary drinks.
The study found that women who followed diets similar to AMED, DASH and AHEI-2010 decreased their likelihood of hearing loss by at least 30 per cent. This means the researchers found that diets that prioritize fruits and vegetables with minerals like folic acid, potassium, and zinc decreased the risk of hearing loss.
Further studies have found that other minerals, vitamins and foods have a positive relationship with your hearing and can help prevent hearing loss.
The main thing to remember is that what you eat has a huge impact on your ability to hear, as well as your overall health. Making sure your body is receiving all the nutrients it needs can go a long way to ensuring you have healthy hearing in the future.
If you have any questions about hearing loss or want to book an appointment with York Hearing Clinic, please contact us today.