Eating for Healthy Hearing

This season has many of us reevaluating our diets and health, be it in response to overindulgences during the holidays or merely an interest to finally reach our lofty health goals. The truth is, most of us already know what we should be doing to stay healthy– it’s the actually doing it part that has us wavering. So, perhaps by adding yet another shining benefit to the long list of reasons why we should eat healthy in this new year, we’ll find just the right amount of motivation we need to succeed.
It turns out that recent research has shown that a healthy diet rich in specific nutrients directly protects our hearing capacity. No matter where you fall on the age scale, or how well you hear at this very moment, taking steps to protect whatever hearing you have left is always a good idea. So, let’s look at exactly which nutrients we should be bringing more of into our diets.
These friendly molecules continue to get the spotlight, and given their protective effect throughout the body, it’s no surprise why. It turns out that antioxidants, especially folic acid, have shown to reduce the risk of hearing loss by upwards of twenty percent. Folic acid is found in significant amounts in foods such as asparagus, spinach, beans, broccoli, eggs, liver, and nuts. It turns out that the free radicals known for aging our skin and wreaking havoc on various tissues and organs internally can also damage the delicate hair cells of the cochlea in the inner ear. Folic acid is an underappreciated ally in blocking these radicals, so be sure to pile on the veggies for your meals to come!
Another rising star in the nutritional pantheon is magnesium, and for similar fame. Despite magnesium’s capacity to protect various tissues and cells within the body from free radical damage, there are increasing reports of widespread magnesium deficiency in developed nations, including America. Speculation continues on why this is, but regardless of the reason, consider adding more magnesium-rich foods like bananas, potatoes, artichokes, and broccoli to your plate to play it safe.
Tis the season for Zinc! And perhaps that season shouldn’t end, as research is showing that this immune-boosting wonder molecule has the capacity to prevent age-related hearing loss along with it’s powerful stop-your-cold-in-its-tracks reputation. The best part of this revelation is that an excellent source of zinc is dark chocolate. Yep, case closed.
Omega 3’s & Vitamin D
Both of these nutrients have been getting a lot of attention as of late, both from popular media and researchers alike. Studies on the newly realized significance of both omega 3s and vitamin D for a vast array of bodily functions were spurred by the recognition by health professionals that nearly everyone they did blood tests for were showing up severely deficient in both. Studies on individuals who maintain high levels of both omega 3s and vitamin D in their diets (mainly from regular consumption of fish) have shown a forty two percent decreased risk of age-related hearing loss than diets poor in these nutrients.
It’s speculated that the protective mechanism these nutrients provide involves the strengthening of the blood vessels surrounding the delicate and oxygen-hungry hair cells of the inner ear. Beyond fish, chia seeds, walnuts, and flax seeds are also great sources of these important nutrients.
Vitamins C & E, and Glutathione
Here we have more superstars from the antioxidant category, but these ones deserve their own highlight. First off, glutathione is effectively ‘the captain’ in charge of our body’s anti-cancer arsenal, and as a side job, it protects our delicate inner ears from free radical damage. Focus on incorporating more green foods into your diet, including copious amounts of green tea, and your glutathione levels will rise accordingly.
Vitamin C is well known as a potent antioxidant, and vitamin E has a reputation for protecting our skin. Both have also shown to be highly protective of the tissues of the inner ear, and are luckily easy to find in various vegetables and fruits, such as bell peppers, oranges, green leafy vegetables, and tomatoes.
So there you have it– one more persuasive reason to take your new year resolution seriously and choose the produce aisle over the cookies & donut aisle… at least most of the time. Of course anytime is the right time to make improvements to your diet, which is why Mother Nature grants us an abundance of these nutrient-dense foods all year long!


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