From physique and brain power to overall staying prowess, we know what we eat is a linchpin to our health. You are what you eat.
What most people don’t realize is that our diet has also a say in our hearing.
What You Eat
As reported by the American Academy of Audiology (1), a University of Florida Gainesville research by C. Spankovich and C. G. Le Prell found “a significant relationship between dietary nutrient intake and susceptibility to acquired hearing loss is emerging.”
A review of literature by Spankovich and Le Prell indicates (2):
- · Vitamin A increased dietary intake were associated with decreased prevalence of hearing impairment in older individuals
- · Vitamin B Folic Acid slowed progression of age-related hearing loss at low frequencies
- · There is a positive relationship between Vitamin C intake and hearing sensitivity
- · Increased intake of vitamin E has been linked to better hearing in a cross-sectional analysis
- · Cross-sectional data suggests a positive relationship between Magnesium intake and hearing sensitivity.
It must be pointed out that there are other studies which failed to detect a statistically significant relationship for the above findings. In addition, other analyses suggest beneficial effects are higher for adults 60 years and older.
Diametrically opposite to vitamins and minerals, higher carbohydrate intake, fat intake, and cholesterol intake are correlated with negative hearing outcomes. A number of studies concluded “there is an increased risk for hearing loss in adults with higher glycemic index (an index of carbohydrate quality) and glycemic load (an index of both quality and quantity), as well as higher total carbohydrate intake.”
Participants in the Spankovich and Le Prell cross-sectional analyses (2), whose diets were aligned with US Dietary Guidelines for Americans, had better hearing at higher frequencies (3, 4, 6, and 8 kHz) – see 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelinesfor Americans. This site with the moniker My Plate has food and beverage selection tips that reflect one’s personal preferences, values, traditions, culture, and budget. Parameters incorporated are age, gender, height and current weight.
The info in My Plate is nothing new except an emphasis on variation of proteins and vegetables. Don’t stick to a few. Eating salmon and blueberries most of the time is dicey. Each food or beverage item has something to contribute.
Spankovich and Le Prell concluded “healthy eating strategies may benefit patients with respect to preserved higher frequency thresholds, although the correlations presented in the study do not establish causal relationships.”
The earlier you start on eating healthy the better – at the benefits accrue over time with significant effects realized after a considerable period of consistency in dietary consumption. This means better hearing inspite of aging.
How Much You Eat
But it is not just what we eat that counts; it is also how much we ingest (3).
Several investigations show with age; our bodies produce more free radicals leading to aging. Free radicals are suspected to play a role in age-associated decline of our delicate hearing mechanism. Most adults register some degree of hearing loss after 60 years or more.
A study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison associated the amount of food we eat and our lifespan. Researchers found an enzyme called Sirt3 produced by the body has a strong mechanistic link mitigating the aging effect of free radicals. If we eat less than our “normal” daily volume of calories, the body increases its levels of Sirt3 that combat free radical damage.
Eating less mean most likely more Sirt3 enzymes, slowing aging.
Consequently, eating less might mean you’ll hear better - longer.
Why You Eat
Ultimately what matters is why we eat.
Do we eat to survive?
To enjoy the “small” pleasures of life?
Or to be healthy?
If health matters most - including being able to hear as we grow older - we will look at what is on our plate with more planning from the mind, rather than our taste buds.
Which leads us to another question - does the sense of hearing affect our taste? Stay tuned!
Check with your physician and nutritionist before adding any supplements or customizing your diet.
If you think you may have hearing loss, have a full hearing evaluation from a hearing healthcare professional.