Summertime is the time for good food and time with family. From those big family cookouts to big Sunday dinners, food and family go hand in hand here in the Memphis area. And part of the joy are those second helpings … which can quickly become thirds!
My family is no exception. Food brings us together. Still, it’s important to be honest with ourselves about the foods we eat so we can make smart food choices — most of the time.
As an audiologist, I very often meet with families and individuals faced with hearing challenges. So I’d like to share with you the connection between food and hearing loss.
Food and Hearing Loss: The Science
Poor nutrition and undernutrition can make your delicate inner ear, where hearing happens, more susceptible to damage from a young age. Here are just a few studies that show this link.
- A large 20-year study of around 70,000 women found that those who eat healthy diets had a 30% lower risk of developing hearing loss.
- Other smaller studies on men and children have shown similar results.
- Yet another major study showed that undernutrition, which may happen in food-insecure households, can lead to acquired hearing loss as early as the 20’s.
What Explains the Link Between Diet and Hearing Loss?
Our bodies send us many signs when we’re not getting proper nutrition or overeating the wrong foods. For example, low energy, moodiness, unwanted weight gain, and trouble sleeping can all give us a clue. These are generally reversible if you change your eating habits.
Hearing loss, on the other hand, is permanent — at least the kind caused by diet.
The link between food and hearing loss may be explained because the inner ear is very susceptible to damage from not enough blood flow or uncontrolled blood sugar.
Hearing loss has also been linked to certain diseases that can create that perfect storm like:
- Diabetes Type II (the kind people usually develop in their late teens or adulthood)
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Morbid obesity
Eating and hearing loss are clearly linked, but let’s focus on what we can do to keep our hearing longer.
Are You Eating for Hearing Health?
Of the women in that 20-year study, the ones without hearing loss tended to eat diets high in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, lean meats and fish (not fried), raw greens, as well as whole grains. Adding more of these foods into your diet may reduce your risk of hearing loss as you age.
If you’re eating more of the above foods, you’ll have less room to eat fatty meats, butter, cream, fried food, low-fiber bread and pasta, as well as, sugary sauces, drinks, and dishes.
Of course, I’m not suggesting you give up going to cookouts, family dinners, or foods you love — unless your doctor has instructed you to do so, but these studies do point toward improving your diet to keep your hearing longer.
If you’re wondering about your diet and hearing loss, please schedule a hearing test with our office.