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Can Your Diet Help Prevent Hearing Loss?

Can Your Diet Help Prevent Hearing Loss - Hearing, Balance and Speech Center

Everyone knows that eating healthy is good for you, but can your diet help prevent hearing loss? There are a couple studies that show that a healthy diet really does help stave off hearing loss. Although hearing loss becomes more common as we age, these studies show that certain diets which feature more healthy foods can reverse ailments like inflammation and high blood pressure, which can have a negative effect on hearing. Read on to find out more about the details of these two clinical studies.

The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition revealed that young adults who had poor nutrition were twice as likely to have hearing loss than other children. The study was reviewed and approved by the institutional review boards at the Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University, Kathmandu, Nepal and the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, MD, USA. The study included 4,765 children who were younger than 5 years old at the baseline visit in 1989. These children were followed in subsequent years and only the ones remaining in the study were available for hearing assessments at the conclusion of the study. The following results were logged:

  • Indicators of early childhood wasting and stunting were consistently associated with a 1.8- to 2.2-fold higher risk of early-adult hearing loss.
  • An important distinction emerged in the risk associated with tympanometric (fluid in the ear) findings to suggest potentially distinct pathways underlying these associations.
  • Acute undernutrition in early childhood, represented by a low BMI or thin arm circumference for age, was associated with both an ∼2-fold higher risk of hearing loss and a 1.4- to 1.8-fold increased risk of abnormal tympanometry.

As a result of this study, it is evident that proper nutrition and healthy eating habits at a young age had a positive impact on their hearing. However, for those who had poor nutrition habits, hearing loss was up to 2 times more prevalent.

The Journal of Nutrition

A second study regarding hearing loss and nutrition in women also showed how healthier dietary patterns led to a reduced risk of hearing loss. In this study, a research team from brigham and Women’s Hospital led by Drs. Gary C. Curhan and Sharon G. Curhan reviewed questionnaires filled out by 71,000 women who participated in the Nurses’ Health Study II over a period of 22 years. The results were published in the Journal of Nutrition this past May. Over 2,300 of the women in the study reported to develop moderate or worse hearing loss. Their diets and eating patterns were examined and compared to three diets recognized as “healthy”. The 3 diets that were looked at were:

  1. The Alternate Mediterranean Diet (AMED), featuring extra virgin olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fish and a moderate intake of alcohol.
  2. The Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) which emphasizes fruits and vegetables and low-fat dairy, while restricting salt.
  3. The Alternative Healthy Eating Index - 2010 (AHEI-2010), which measures diet quality to assess how well a set of foods align with key recommendations.

Study participants who had dietary patterns resembling any one of these three types of diets showed a 30% lower risk of hearing loss than those women whose diets least resembled these diet patterns.

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Research / Sources

  1. https://m.health24.com/Medical/Hearing-management/News/healthy-eating-may-protect-your-hearing-20180813-3
  2. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/nih-research-matters/healthy-diets-linked-lower-risk-hearing-loss-women
  3. https://academic.oup.com/jn/article-abstract/148/6/944/4993343
  4. https://www.usnews.com/news/health-care-news/articles/2018-05-11/study-healthy-diet-may-reduce-hearing-loss-in-women