Posted on Aug 24, 2017

Wellness and Hearing: How Diet Matters

It’s no secret that maintaining a healthy lifestyle that includes proper nutrition and exercise can go a long way toward improving overall mental and physical well-being. However, one’s hearing health is seldom perceived as intertwined with staying fit, or with dietary choices. It might seem that hearing is a sort of “isolated” sensory system that is largely unaffected by anything other than genetics, age, and exposure to noise. However, numerous studies over the years have in general shown physical activity and a healthy diet to be powerful tools for enhancing hearing health. Perhaps the most notable research has focused on the correlation between diet and better hearing, which has demonstrated that a high-calorie, high-fat diet lacking in adequate micronutrients (i.e. fruits, vegetables, and herbs) increases the likelihood of hearing loss, whereas a micronutrient-rich, low-calorie, low-fat, low-sugar diet reduces the risk of hearing loss!

In an article recently published by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), audiologist Christopher Spankovich describes recent research conducted by his clinical department at the University of Mississippi which utilized the USDA’s “yardstick” for dietary guidelines: the healthy eating index (HEI). The results of this study clearly associate a healthy diet with better hearing. More specifically, an increased intake of fruits and vegetables­ (in tandem with reduced intake of saturated fat and salt) showed a direct connection to better hearing.

If one is unsure of how to begin eating with hearing health in mind, Dr. Spankovich recommends simply following USDA Dietary Guidelines, and in particular its Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension plan, known as the DASH diet. This plan emphasizes “fruits, vegetables, low-GI foods, lean meats, fish, nuts, seeds, and beans with a limited intake of high-GI foods (e.g., sugar-sweetened foods and beverages), red meats, saturated fats, and sodium.” It sounds like a win-win: not only will this diet help keep your blood pressure low and your heart healthy, it can also facilitate optimal hearing, as well as reduce your odds of hearing loss over the course of the aging process. Regardless of the diet you follow, remember that thoughtful food choices may lead to better hearing!

 

To read the full ASHA article about how a healthy diet helps hearing click here.

 

 

 

 

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