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Hearing loss affects approximately 48 million Americans. People are discovering more everyday how hearing loss is not just an ear issue but can affect every aspect of your life. Hearing plays a major role in our quality of life, from our emotional well-being and physical health to our careers and leisure activities. Yet millions of people who have hearing loss let it go untreated, despite research showing links between untreated hearing loss and increased risk of falls, depression, anxiety, hospitalizations and even dementia. Now, evidence is suggesting that diet may influence risk of hearing loss. With so much importance riding on healthy hearing, eating healthy is a recommendation that you may not want to ignore.
A Study in Healthy Eating
In a new study, researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital explored the relation between different diets and risk of developing hearing loss: The Alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH)
“Interestingly, we observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss,” said Sharon Curhan, MD, an epidemiologist in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH. “Eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss.”
Researchers collected detailed information on dietary intake every four years over 22 years and found that women whose diets most closely resembled the AMED or DASH dietary patterns had an approximately 30 percent lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss, compared with women whose diets were not in conjunction with these dietary patterns.
A Mediterranean Diet
The Mediterranean diet has been shown to reduce risk of heart disease, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, certain cancers, depression, and in older adults, a decreased risk of frailty, along with better mental function, physical function and now hearing loss.
Hearing loss and Hearing Disease
One of the largest benefits of a Mediterranean diet is that it promotes a healthy heart. So what does heart health have to do with hearing? Studies have shown that good circulation plays a role in maintaining good hearing health. Inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss. The fragile hair cells in the cochlea, which play an important role in translating the noise your ears collect into electrical impulses for the brain to interpret as recognizable sound, rely on healthy circulation. Poor circulation robs these hair cells of adequate oxygen, causing damage or destruction. Because these hair cells do not regenerate, it can result in permanent hearing loss.
What is the Mediterranean diet?
The traditional Mediterranean diet is based on foods available in countries that border the Mediterranean Sea. The foundation for this healthy diet includes an abundance of plant foods, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts and legumes, which are minimally processed, seasonally fresh, and grown locally. Olive oil is the principal source of fat in conjunction with, cheese and yogurt, fish and poultry, red meat, consumed infrequently and in small amounts and fresh fruit for dessert, and a glass wine along with your meal
DASH stands for Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension. The DASH diet is a lifelong approach to healthy eating that’s designed to help treat or prevent high blood pressure, also known as hypertension. The DASH diet plan was developed to lower blood pressure without medication. The DASH diet recommends you to reduce the sodium in your diet and eat a variety of foods rich in nutrients that help lower blood pressure, such as potassium, calcium and magnesium. By following the DASH diet, you may be able to reduce your blood pressure by a few points in just two weeks.
Hypertension and Hearing Loss
The link between high blood pressure and impaired hearing isn’t difficult to understand. When your blood pressure is high, your blood vessels are damaged. This damage isn’t centered in one area of the body but your entire body is affected, including your ears. And when the blood vessels in your ears are damaged – and have a fatty plaque buildup – your hearing could be impaired.
Hearing loss is a condition that is too dangerous to ignore. If you suspect that you have hearing loss or are curious as to exactly how well you hear contact us at Ear-Tronics to have your hearing tested. If a hearing loss is detected we can help you find the best hearing aids for you and keep you feeling healthy and hearing well for years to come.