There are a few things that come to mind when you think of a poor diet: obesity, high cholesterol, heart disease, diabetes…but what about hearing loss? A recent study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that women who had poor diets suffered from higher rates – 25% higher, to be exact – of hearing loss than those with healthier diets. In addition, the study also found that those with healthier diets showed a 30% lower risk of losing hearing over a long period of time, meaning that a healthy diet could impact the rate of hearing loss as we age.
These findings are potentially groundbreaking, but they also fit in with the results from other studies; namely, hearing loss is a preventable condition. Overexposure to loud noises, smoking cigarettes, and a poor diet are all things that cause hearing loss – and they’re all things that we ultimately have control over.
How a poor diet causes hearing loss
Numerous studies have been conducted to examine the link between hearing loss and a person’s diet, and they’ve uncovered some types of food that people can avoid to prevent hearing loss. People who have diets high in sugar, cholesterol, and carbohydrates appear to be more likely to get age-related hearing loss. In addition, people who have deficiencies in B12, Omega 3, vitamin A, and folic acid seem to be more likely to develop hearing loss.
But why would all these foods have an effect on hearing loss? Researchers think the answer may lie in your blood. We operate at peak performance when blood can flow freely and easily throughout our bodies. The foods that can cause hearing loss cause restriction in the blood flow, which in turn makes it harder for blood to bring nutrients up to the ears through small arteries and veins. Oxygen levels, inflammation, and blood pressure all play a role in our hearing, and they’re all impacted by these foods.
How a change in your diet could treat tinnitus
Have you ever gotten a ringing, humming, or buzzing in your ear? If the answer is yes, then you may have experienced tinnitus, which is an internal noise in your ears that ranges anywhere between mildly annoying and incapacitating. And guess what? Once again, your diet may be to blame.
While we still don’t understand everything about tinnitus, it is thought to be caused by restricted blood flow in the small arteries in your ear. If blood has to pump harder to get nutrients to all the areas in your ear, you may be able to hear the blood working overtime to move through all those areas. So when it comes to your diet and tinnitus, there have been a few ideas about how a change in your diet can get rid of that ringing in your ears.
One idea is that iron-deficiency anemia, which is a lack of iron in the blood, leads to tinnitus. Studies have shown a link between this condition and tinnitus since the blood doesn’t have everything it needs to properly carry nutrients throughout the body.
People who have added more iron-rich foods to their diet, such as red meat, spinach, beans, and iron-fortified cereal and pasta have seen their tinnitus disappear. However, there may still be underlying issues that cause tinnitus, such as medication and heart conditions, that are merely exacerbated by a lack of iron in the diet. That’s why it’s important to consult with your doctor and a hearing specialist to make sure there’s nothing else that’s causing the ringing in your ears.