Your dietary choices can have a variety of effects throughout your body. With increasing research and scientific knowledge, the use of food in both treatment and prevention of health problems is becoming more common. Whether you wish to reduce your risk of developing hearing loss or prevent its progression, a number of different foods and supplements may help you achieve your goals.
According to Dr. Jonathan Wright, low potassium levels may play a role in poor hearing and hearing loss. Whether this is due to low potassium intake or poor functioning of potassium channels in your inner ear, Dr. Wright suggests that you supplement your diet and increase your intake of foods rich in potassium. Due to the high potassium content in a variety of fruits, such as apricots, bananas, melons and oranges, Dr. Wright suggests juices or smoothies to increase your potassium intake. Other potassium-rich foods include potatoes, spinach, lima beans, milk and raisins.
Folate, or folic acid in its synthetic form, is vital to your body's ability to produce DNA, RNA and new cells throughout your body. In a 2007 study, a team headed by Jane Durga at Wageningen University in Wageningen, Netherlands studied the effects of folate intake on age-related hearing loss. While this common condition may seem an inevitable side-effect of aging, these researchers found that people who take folate supplements are less likely to experience hearing loss as they age. Commonly found in fortified breakfast cereals, folate is also prominent in liver, spinach, asparagus and broccoli.
Vitamins C and E
The ability of folate to prevent age-related hearing loss was supported in a long-term study by Josef Shargorodsky and colleagues at Boston, Massachusetts' Brigham and Women’s Hospital. While this team did not find vitamins C and E to play a prominent role in their 2010 study, they acknowledged that these vitamins were only used in small quantities in their study. Reviewing past findings, these researchers suggest that the antioxidant properties of vitamins C and E may help prevent damage to healthy cells associated with hearing. Based on their findings and those of past research, they suggest that large amounts of these vitamins may help prevent hearing loss. To attain such high levels, combine supplements with vitamin C-rich foods, such as citrus fruits, and foods high in vitamin E, such as almonds, sunflower oil and peanut butter.
Low-Carbohydrate, Low-Sodium Foods
Bamini Gopinath of Westmead, Australia's Millennium Institute and colleagues explored the effects of high-sugar and high-carbohydrate diets on hearing in a 2010 study. While these researchers do not suggest cutting sugars and carbohydrates from your diet, they found that people who eat excessive amount of these compounds are more likely to develop poor hearing. Dr. Wright came to similar conclusions with sodium, suggesting that a reduction in sodium may help improve your hearing. However, as these researchers all note, there are risks associated with severely limiting your intake of these important compounds. As suggested by Dr. Wright, the best way to ensure you do not experience these ill effects is to design a low-carb, low-sodium diet with your doctor.
- Townsend Letter; Take Control of Your Hearing Loss Before It's Too Late; Jonathan V. Wright
- The Potassium Rich Foods: List Of Potassium Rich Foods
- Annals of Internal Medicine; Effects of Folic Acid Supplementation on Hearing in Older Adults: A Randomized, Controlled Trial; Jane Durga et al.
- National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: Folate
- Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery; A Prospective Study of Vitamin Intake and the Risk of Hearing Loss in Men; Josef Shargorodsky et al.
- The Journal of Nutrition; Dietary Glycemic Load Is a Predictor of Age-Related Hearing Loss in Older Adults; Bamini Gopinath et al.