You didn't think that food and hearing loss treatment could belong in the same sentence, but did you know that what you hear may well be related to what you eat?
Good nutrition has been shown to reduce incidents of hearing loss in the aging boomer crowd, or to slow down the loss of hearing associated with age.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition Says...
...if you eat two servings of fish (and those fried fish things at the fast food place don't count), you lower the risk of experiencing hearing loss by 42% if you're 50-years-old or older. Let's repeat that: a 42% reduction in hearing loss in the senior population by having sole or haddock twice a week. Not bad at all.
Fish contains omega-3 fatty acids, a well-studied nutrient that delivers a bunch of health benefits including a reduction in hearing loss. The study, published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, also pointed out supplements of omega-3 (long-chain omega-3 fatty acids) lowered the risk of hearing loss by 14% - a number significantly large enough to add these supplements to your daily diet. Omega-3 supplements come in the form of fish oil capsules as well as pure fish oil.
"Dietary intervention with omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids could prevent or delay the development of age-related hearing loss," researchers, lead by Paul Mitchell, report.
Important? Let's put it this way: roughly 36 million Americans report some degree of hearing loss. We could drop the number significantly if we just ate more fresh fish. Now...
...why fresh fish and why don't those greasy fish squares you get at the drive-up window count? Because the more highly processed food is the fewer nutrients it packs. So, fresh fish is loaded with omega-3. Those deep-fried fish squares have been so highly processed (and deep-fried) they contain much less in the way of good, sound nutrition that results from the increased consumption of fresh fish.
Vitamins, Minerals and Hearing Protection
|Catch the latest in hearing loss protection with fish oils|
Other studies have shown that certain micronutrients – vitamins, minerals and compounds – can also lessen the likelihood of hearing loss related to age, called presbycusis by hearing professionals.
A report released in 2007 showed that folic acid delayed presbycusis in the lower frequency ranges when 728 men and women between the ages of 50 and 70 consumed increased amounts of folic acid.
Folic acid is found in green leafy veggies, like broccoli, lettuce and kale. It's also usually included in the mixture of nutrients contained in multiple-vitamin supplements. Read the label to make sure you're getting enough of this critical micronutrient – and for goodness sake, eat your broccoli. Mom WAS right.
Another study recommends eating more beta carotene to prevent premature hearing loss. You'll find this micronutrient in orange and yellow vegetables like carrots (an excellent source of beta carotene), yellow beans and other colorful fruits and vegetables. You probably eat these foods any way, but now there's another good reason to eat well.
You hear better – longer. That's always nice.
Other nutrients that have been studied as possible defenders against hearing loss include:
- Vitamin C found in citrus fruits
- Magnesium – a mineral found in many vegetables
- Vitamin E – again, found in fish including shellfish
Remember the old saying: you are what you eat so eat better foods and hear better longer.
Smells Fishy? The Study Specifics...
The objective of the study, conducted at several universities and clinical institutes in Australia, was specifically designed to correlate the intake of omega-3 fatty acids and the presence of presbycusis – hearing loss as the result of the aging process. In other words, this is not some tangential finding that grew out of the results of an unrelated study. This Australian study was designed to track how much omega-3 test subjects consumed and how these men and women compared when it came to hearing loss.
Called the Blue Mountains Hearing Study, researchers examined the senior population over several years to accumulate the data required to draw the conclusion that micronutrients – especially omega-3 – showed a positive impact on test subjects' ability to hear.
Test subjects were regularly evaluated for hearing loss at frequencies in the upper, middle and lower pitch ranges – full spectrum hearing. Ahh, but here's the problem: the human body doesn't produce omega-3 naturally. It has to be consumed.
One study showed that the consumption of omega 3 fatty acids and flaxseed oil lessen the likelihood of ear wax build up – a common cause of temporary conductive hearing loss among long-timers. Another study indicates that conductive hearing loss can be helped with omega-3 therapies.
Conductive hearing is the portion of the hearing process that occurs in the outer ear canal, ear drum and middle ear space. Conductive hearing is the first entry point for sound and is essential to the hearing process; it is needed in order to stimulate the inner ear and hearing nerves.
There are numerous studies that show that a better diet, higher in quality micronutrients – vitamins and minerals – will keep you hearing better and diminish the likelihood of hearing loss that often accompanies old age.
Yes, good nutrition is good to overall good health, increasing the effectiveness of the immune system, and maintaining good joint flexibility, muscle mass, clear vision and even better looking skin. But now there's another reason to eat more fish.
By eating fresh fish (go to the fish market) twice a week, especially if you're 50 or over, you lessen the possibility of hearing loss by 42% simply by consuming more omega-3. Add omega-3 fish oil capsules (supplement) to ensure your body is getting enough of this essential ingredient.
And take a multiple vitamin and mineral supplement that contains other micronutrients shown to lessen the likelihood of hearing loss: vitamin C, vitamin E, beta carotene, folic acid and omega-3 fatty acids.
How hard can this be? Fresh fish is always a treat so treat yourself at least twice a week. Go for fresh fish prepared in a healthy way to maintain as many of those all-important nutrients as possible.
And hey, a side of broccoli won't hurt, either. Eat well. Hear well.
The science proves it. So what are you waiting for? Time to go shopping.
Still don't believe the study? Visit a local hearing aid professional or talk to your doctor.