Certain foods are loaded with vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that can protect hearing. Making healthy dietary changes can reduce the risk of hearing loss and may even improve conditions like tinnitus.
The Link Between Diet and Hearing
Zinc, iron, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, and D are some of the many nutrients associated with good hearing. Many of these nutrients act as antioxidants to combat free radicals that contribute to hearing loss.
A number of studies show that hearing loss is more common in people who lack certain nutrients in their diet, including those mentioned above. According to a study published in a 2019 issue of the journal Nutrients, foods that are high in fats, cholesterol, and carbohydrates may worsen hearing. The study adds that low protein intake is also associated with poor hearing.
Foods That Promote Healthy Hearing
Fruits, vegetables, nuts, poultry, and seafood are examples of healthy foods that improve hearing. These foods have high amounts of nutrients that may prevent or slow hearing loss.
Nutrients that improve hearing include:
- Magnesium, found in dark chocolate, avocados, and bananas. Magnesium protects the inner ear hair cells from loud noises.
- Folate, found in green vegetables—particularly dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collards. Folate helps increase blood circulation to keep the inner ear’s hair cells healthy.
- Zinc, found in nuts, lobster, and green vegetables. Zinc protects against ear infections and also reduces the risk of tinnitus.
- Omega-3s, found in Brussels sprouts and fatty fish like tuna, salmon, and mackerel. These fatty acids may help delay or prevent age-related hearing loss.
- Potassium, found in bananas, potatoes, and black beans. Potassium promotes healthy functioning of the inner ear and helps the brain interpret sounds.
- Vitamin B12, found in sardines, tuna, and beef. This vitamin is shown to reduce the risk of tinnitus, according to a study published in a 2020 issue of Ear and Hearing. Other foods that help tinnitus include trout, eggs, and clams.
Hearing Risks Associated With An Unhealthy Diet
Poor nutrition can cause a variety of health problems in addition to hearing loss. For instance, eating a diet composed mostly of fats and simple carbs can lead to malnutrition. In children, malnutrition can interfere with healthy growth and development—including that of the ears—and increase the risk of hearing loss. In a study published in a 2018 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, researchers found that malnourished children were about twice as likely to develop hearing loss as younger adults compared with peers who practiced good nutrition.
Tinnitus and diabetes are other hearing risks associated with a poor diet.
People who are deficient in zinc, protein, and vitamin B12 are generally at greater risk for tinnitus. Those who develop diabetes due to having chronically high blood sugar levels also tend to have more hearing problems than people without diabetes. Over time, high blood sugar can damage nerves and blood vessels—including those in the ears—to cause hearing loss. Those who are diagnosed with diabetes can consult with their doctors to learn more about the risks surrounding hearing loss and diabetes.
Sonora Hearing Care is devoted to helping you protect your hearing. Our hearing care services include hearing aid repair, hearing aid programming, and ear wax removal, among many more. Contact us today at (520) 881-8740 to schedule a consultation and to learn more about our many available hearing services.