Listen up: Eating a healthy diet may reduce the risk of hearing loss.
Researchers at Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital examined data that tracked three-year changes in hearing sensitivities and 20 years of dietary information from women who were mainly in their 50s and early 60s.
Those who closely followed healthy eating patterns were almost 30% less likely to lose midfrequency hearing sensitivity compared with those who had the least-healthy diet. For higher-frequency sounds, the risk of hearing decline dropped 25% for healthy eaters.
Researchers said the findings suggest that hearing loss is not an inevitable consequence of old age and the odds can be tilted favorably with the right diet.
So, what’s on the hearing-healthy menu? Those who followed the so-called DASH diet — which emphasizes vegetables, fruits and low-fat dairy foods — did well at reducing their hearing-loss risk. So did people who embraced the Mediterranean diet, which emphasizes fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains and less red or processed meat.
The latest findings build on previous studies that suggested beta carotene-rich foods such as squash and carrots and those with omega-3 fatty acids were associated with a lower risk of hearing loss.
Hearing loss in certain frequencies can be especially impactful. The frequencies that were studied are critical for speech understanding, the researchers noted, so curbing that decline can help maintain your quality of life. They also found hearing loss among many of the study participants went largely undetected and unaddressed.
The good news is that there’s an easy solution: To help your hearing, keep an eye on what you eat.