Make your garden hearing healthy
Whether you do your gardening on a window sill, in a truck patch or operate a full-scale farm, there’s something genuine and satisfying about growing your own food. And Americans are jumping on the gardening bandwagon in record numbers. According to the National Gardening Association (NGA), 35 percent of all households in America are growing food at home or in a community garden – a 17 percent increase since 2013.
The NGA said a healthier economy and national initiatives such as Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” campaign may be driving the uptick in home gardening. Whatever the reason, Americans are discovering gardening is a good way to get exercise, spend some time outdoors and teach their kids the importance of eating healthier.
Veggies to grow for hearing health
Fortunately, even a small garden can yield a variety of fresh, seasonable vegetables. Plants contain fiber, vitamins and minerals along with compounds which play a role in preventing certain kinds of cancers, heart disease and stroke. Certain vegetables, like the ones we’ve listed below, can even be beneficial to your hearing health.
Spinach, broccoli and asparagus
These vegetables contain folic acid, which reduces the number of free radicals in your body that can damage the delicate tissue in your inner ear. And, according to a Dutch study, participants who were given a folic acid supplement had less low-frequency hearing loss than those receiving a placebo.
Artichokes, broccoli and potatoes
Plant these vegetables to get your daily intake of Magnesium. According to an article in the 2003 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Audiology, those with a magnesium deficiency are more at risk for developing hearing loss as a result of noise damage, ototoxicity or auditory hyperexcitability.
See if you can sneak a few bell peppers into your kids' – or grandkids' – diet this year and they may have a reduced incidence of ear infections. That’s because bell peppers have Vitamin E, another defense against free radicals, which helps strengthen your immune system.
Hearing aids in the garden
Now that you’re growing the right vegetables to benefit your hearing health, when was the last time you had your hearing tested?
The National Institutes on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates 37.5 million Americans over the age of 18 report some trouble hearing. If this describes you, consider making it a priority to see a hearing healthcare professional before the planting season begins. Depending on your diagnosis, you may be a candidate for hearing aids. While hearing aids will not restore your hearing to normal, they can help you hear sounds you didn’t realize you were missing such as:
Singing birds and chirping crickets: One of the first signs of high-frequency hearing loss is the ability to hear high-pitched sounds, like birds singing or crickets chirping. While this might not sound like such a big deal, other high-pitched sounds you may not be hearing well include doorbells, alarm clocks and telephones, which may be a safety concern.
Rustling leaves and falling rain: When was the last time you heard leaves rustle or rain fall? If you can’t remember, it’s time to see your hearing healthcare professional for a hearing evaluation. Normal age-related hearing loss, or presbycusis, begins early in adulthood and gradually progresses so it’s often difficult to detect. The sooner you begin wearing hearing aids, the sooner you’ll be hearing familiar sounds like these again.
Don’t forget. Healthy Hearing has a comprehensive online directory of hearing centers in your immediate community. If you need a hearing healthcare professional, or want to check unbiased patient reviews for the hearing centers in your area, use the Find a Professional section on our website.
Hear Healthy Spring Recipe
Wondering what to do with your garden bounty once it’s harvested? Here’s a recipe to get you started.
Tortellini salad with spring veggies
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Yields: 6 servings
- 4 cups spinach
- 1 ½ c frozen shelled edamame or peas
- ½ lb asparagus, thick stems peeled, cut into 1/2 –inch lengths
- 1 package (10 oz) fresh spinach-filled tortellini
- 1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste with ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 lemon, juiced and zested
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ c fresh basil, slivered
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Add the edamame or peas and asparagus; cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until bright green and crisp-tender. Use a slotted spoon to remove the vegetables to a colander and rinse them under cold water for about 1 minute. Drain the vegetables and transfer them to a large bowl. Return the pot of water to a boil and add the pasta; cook according to package directions. Drain the pasta, and add it to the bowl with the vegetables.
In a small bowl, whisk together the garlic-salt paste, lemon juice, zest and olive oil. Pour dressing over the pasta and vegetables, and toss gently to coat. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground pepper. Add the basil just before serving. Serve at room temperature. Refrigerate any leftovers.
Tip: the pasta and vegetables can be cooked up to one day ahead of time and refrigerated; bring to room temperature and add dressing and basil just before serving.