Good nutrition means more than just getting enough food to supply your body with the energy it needs. Eating the right variety of foods can contribute to many aspects of your health. Some current health fads encourage us to eat the right combination of “macros”—protein, carbohydrates, and fats—and to take supplements to get all the micronutrients that are missing, as well.
Although these approaches to nutrition take your intake down to a precise science, you can also seek to eat a variety of healthy foods that will naturally bring these vitamins and minerals into your body. These micronutrients, even in trace amounts, can support specific bodily functions ranging from your core systems of cardiovascular and cognitive health to more subtle needs of the body that provide healthy skin, hair, and strong teeth.
Recent findings in nutritional sciences have even discovered that certain nutrients can support your hearing health. Although these vitamins and minerals will not restore your hearing ability after you have lost it, they can offer a protective effect, maintaining the functioning of the tiny, hairlike organelles of the inner ear called stereocilia. Let’s take a look at a few of these crucial nutrients for hearing health, as well as some of the foods that will provide them to you.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
A recent study found that those who had two servings of cold-water fish per week had a 42% lower risk of developing age-related hearing loss than those who had less than one serving per week. What might explain this link between fish and hearing health? The results showed that Omega-3 fatty acids were supporting hearing health, as well as a wide range of other bodily functions. If you are interested in increasing your intake of Omega-3 fatty acids, you can look for fish like salmon or sardines for a healthy dose. If you prefer, these acids can also be found in eggs, walnuts, flaxseed, and grass-fed beef.
You might think of vitamin C as a good way to promote your immunity, prevent colds, and even as an anti-aging supplement in face creams. Did you know that this super-vitamin can also reduce the effects of sensorineural hearing loss? A study in guinea pigs found that it could protect the auditory nervous system from damage due to noise, and another study in humans found that it can reduce the reactive oxygen metabolites in the inner ear, improving hearing. Citrus fruits are not the only way to get vitamin C. You can also add this vitamin naturally dark leafy greens, papaya, strawberries, and broccoli,
At least two of the B vitamins—folate and B-12—have a relationship with hearing health, as well. Three separate studies found that different groups of people with hearing loss had much lower levels of folate in their lab results. These results were borne out among women, men, and in the general population. You can get more folate in vegetables like spinach, asparagus, and broccoli, as well as eggs, liver, nuts, and beans. Those who have deficiencies in B-12 have higher rates of hearing loss, as well. It is thought that low levels of folate and B-12 both restrict the blood flow to the stereocilia, making them more susceptible to damage. You can get B-12 through eggs, fish, and meat, as well as dairy products. Vegetarians and vegans are wise to take B-12 supplements.
Vitamins A and E
Antioxidants have shown a powerful effect on hearing, as well. Vitamins A and E are both correlated with lower rates of hearing loss over a 5-year research period. These antioxidants seem to assist the stereocilia in much the same way as the B Vitamins do. Almonds, spinach, olive oil, and sweet potato all provide Vitamin E, and carrots, dark leafy greens, broccoli, and eggs all supply Vitamin A. As you can see, these lists of healthy foods overlap in many instances. You might want to make yourself an omelet with spinach to catch several of these healthy nutrients in the same meal. When integrated into a general healthy diet, you can get what you need to support many of the body’s systems, including your hearing.
An annual hearing test is also an important part of your healthy hearing routine! Contact us today to schedule an appointment.