There are a number of well-known ways to protect one’s hearing, including wearing ear protection and not turning up the volume. But one overlooked precaution — as is the case with so much in life — is to ensure that you’re eating a proper diet.
There are now a number of formal studies that have determined that diet — and certain foods and specific nutrients — are important to your auditory system.
- A study published in the International Journal of Audiology in 2013 concluded that poor diets are a risk factor in hearing loss. It analyzed data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, which had 21,000 participants between 1999 and 2002. It found that people with a higher “score” for a healthy diet — meaning diets that were closer to those recommended by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) — also had better hearing health outcomes.
- In 2010 the study “A Prospective Study of Vitamin Intake and the Risk of Hearing Loss In Men” was published in the Journal of Otolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery. It concluded that there was clear evidence that men with better diets — especially those rich in the intake of folic acid — had significantly better hearing. Foods like leafy green vegetables, fruits, beans, rice, pasta, and bread and cereals are good sources for folic acid.
- Researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital published a study in 2018 in the Journal of Nutrition after analyzing the questionnaires of 71,000 women who had participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II between 1991 and 2013. They found that those with eating habits that fell into the healthiest categories — the Mediterranean Diet (AMED) and the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) — had a 30 percent lower risk for hearing loss.
The AMED diet is based on fish, olive oil, nuts, whole grains, legumes, and fresh fruits and vegetables, while the DASH diet encourages the same, though it includes lean meat, low-fat dairy, and restricts the intake of sodium, sugar, and fat.