When it comes to eating healthy, it's often recommended that you eat a “colorful diet.” Eating a colorful diet entails eating a wider variety of foods. According to the American Heart Association, it’s the best way to obtain the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients your body needs.
Especially as you get older, you may want to become more intentional about the food you eat. For instance, as we age, the more likely we are to obtain age-related hearing loss (or presbycusis). In this way, you may want to start eating foods that can help to prevent hearing problems like this.
Thankfully, eating the right foods can help you to keep your hearing health in tip-top shape. To keep hearing your best, here are 6 vitamins and minerals to watch for. We’ve also included several suggestions for foods you may want to start incorporating into your diet.
1. Folic acid
Folic acid (also known as folate) is a form of vitamin B9, which helps your body to generate new cell growth. Low levels of folic acid can contribute to age-related hearing loss. But because of folic acid contributes to red blood cell production, healthy folic acid levels can help to prevent this condition.
A recent study confirmed that folic acid supplements can benefit people with age-related hearing loss. This could be due in part to the fact that folic acid plays a role in maintaining good circulation. The better your circulation, the better the health of your inner ear and, thereby, your ability to hear.
Foods to incorporate into your diet: Asparagus, broccoli, chickpeas, lentils, organ meats (e.g. liver), spinach, B9 or vitamin B complex supplements.
Magnesium is a mineral that plays a substantial role in our physical health. From normalizing your blood pressure to keeping your bones strong, incorporating a healthy amount of magnesium into your diet is important. Low magnesium levels can negatively impact your hearing by reducing the blood and oxygen flow to your inner ear. Adequate magnesium levels, however, can aid in preventing noise-induced hearing loss.
A University of Michigan study found that those who took magnesium supplements, alongside vitamins A, C, and E, were less likely to acquire noise-induced hearing loss. This can be attributed to magnesium’s ability to zap the free radicals emitted when you hear loud noises. By doing so, magnesium prevents the damage those radicals can do to your hair cells.
Foods to incorporate into your diet: Almonds, artichokes, bananas, broccoli, potatoes, spinach, squash, tomatoes, magnesium supplements.
3. Omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 fatty acids are unsaturated fatty acids predominantly found in seafood. Among others, omega-3s can aid in promoting eye and brain health, preventing heart disease and mental decline, and improving mental disorders. In addition, omega-3s may be able to reduce one’s chances of acquiring age-related hearing loss.
Research has demonstrated the potential for omega-3s to delay, if not prevent, age-related hearing loss. This may be due to how omega-3s aid in improving one’s cardiovascular health and circulation. This allows an adequate amount of blood flow to reach your inner ear and help you hear your best.
Foods to incorporate into your diet: Brussel sprouts, chia seeds, flaxseeds, fish (e.g. anchovies, salmon, trout, tuna), walnuts, omega-3 supplements (also called fish oil pills).
Potassium helps to regulate the fluids in your body, your nervous system to function properly, and your muscles to contract. Much like magnesium, adequate potassium levels aid in supporting a healthy heart, normal blood pressure, and bone and muscle strength. In contrast, low potassium levels can contribute to age-related hearing loss.
According to the University of Rochester, potassium “plays a central role in converting sounds into signals that the nervous system recognizes.” Dr. Robert D. Frisina further explains that the potassium levels in your inner ear naturally decrease as you age. As such, your chances of acquiring hearing loss increase with age. Thus, it may be necessary to increase your potassium intake as you age to maintain your hearing health.
Foods to incorporate into your diet: Bananas, lima beans, melons, milk, oranges, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes, yogurt, potassium supplements.
5. Vitamins C and E
Vitamins C and E are both antioxidants that can protect your body from damage in a variety of ways. Vitamin C (or ascorbic acid) primarily serves to help grow and repair body tissues. Similarly, vitamin E helps to protect your body from free radicals, which can damage body tissues, organs, and more. Likewise, they can also help to protect your hearing health.
As noted, the University of Michigan found that taking magnesium with vitamin C and E can prevent hearing damage from exposure to loud noise. Because these antioxidants can protect tissue, they can help prevent damage to your hair cells and preserve your ability to hear.
Foods to incorporate into your diet: Almonds, citrus fruits (e.g. oranges), peanut butter, sunflower oil, vitamin C & E supplements.
Zinc is a mineral that predominantly works to keep your immunity in check, heal wounds, and promote cell growth. That’s why you might find zinc tablets at your local drug store. By taking zinc, you can boost your immunity and help to prevent illness from progressing. By preventing the common cold from progressing, for example, you can reduce your risk of coming down with an ear infection.
In addition to preventing ear infections, zinc can also help individuals to recover from sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSHL). According to Mercola, SSHL can be described as “sudden, unexplained loss of hearing.” With this in mind, a study conducted at Chang Gun University explored the impacts of zinc supplements on patients with SSHL. As a result, patients who took the supplements had a higher likelihood of recovery, quick recovery, and a higher hearing gain.
Foods to incorporate into your diet: Almonds, beef, cashews, dark-meat chicken, dark chocolate, fish, lentils, oysters, peanuts, pork, zinc supplements.
Do You Have Hearing Loss?
If you suspect hearing loss, use this Online Hearing Check to get a general of your hearing loss level. You can also contact us to learn more about how hearing loss can be addressed with the help of hearing aids.