Man cupping his ear due to hearing loss

How a Heart-Healthy Diet Supports Better Hearing

Olga Lis, MS, CCC-A

What is the cornerstone of health? Well regular exercise and even feeling fulfilled in your life is essential to overall health. However, a major component of health are the foods we choose to put into our body. In United States culture there is an emphasis on red meat, fatty foods, and lots of processed sugars. In fact, there aren’t many vegetables that are a staple aside from French fried potatoes. It’s important to pay attention to these choices, especially as we age. What we eat controls our energy level, mood, support of all the organs throughout our body and surprisingly even our ears.

A Healthy Hearing Diet

What should you be eating to support your hearing? Many people are surprised to consider that what we eat affects how we hear, however, to understand the connection it’s important to understand how the auditory system works.

While we collect sounds and amplify them within our ear canal, it’s the job of tiny hair-like cells called stereocilia, which transform those sounds into electrical impulses which can be interpreted and comprehended in the brain. Stereocilia are very fragile and like all cells of the body, rely on a healthy oxygenated supply of blood to maintain optimal health. When we choose foods which compromise our heart, it directly affects the flow and quality of the blood throughout all the cells of our body—including our ears!

A Study on A Hearing Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is a heart healthy diet! To better understand this connection several researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts examined how diet affects hearing. This 2019 study collected data from over 3,000 women at the start and following a three year time span to see how hearing and diet may affect each other. At the start of the study every person was tested for hearing with a follow up exam three years later. They were also interviewed around their dietary choices to see how that may coincide with hearing ability.

The study found that those who adhered to heart healthy diets such as the Alternative Mediterranean Diet (AMED) or the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet were 25% less likely to develop a hearing loss!

An Ideal Diet

Knowing you want to start eating healthier is just the beginning. Knowing what to eat and a diet you are more likely to follow is essential. Diets which promote healthy hearing are diets rich in vegetables, lean proteins such as fish and poultry, plenty of fruits for sweetness and whole grains, while avoiding added salts, processed sugars and foods. For more guidelines and recipes adhering to a diet like the AMED or DASH help instill guidelines as well as delicious recipes to help your heart and your ears.

  • AMED (alternate Mediterranean diet): is a diet based on the food you would find growing and harvesting around the Mediterranean Sea region of the world including plenty of fruits and vegetables, nuts, whole grains, and legumes, with lots of olive oil and fish.
  • DASH (the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension): For those trying to directly address hypertension, another serious risk to the cells of the ears, this diet promotes eating fruits and vegetables, while limiting the intake of salt, sugar, and fat.

What Foods Should You Avoid?

Sugar is so delicious but it can have some serious effects on your health. It’s complicated because it gives you a chemical high throughout your body and has addictive properties. Once it’s in your system you will always be craving more. The effects of added sugar intake include hypertension, inflammation affecting your joints and body pain, weight gain, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. Besides increasing the risk of hearing loss, it can also increase your risk of heart attack! The grocery shelves at most stores across the country, even health food stores are packed with processed foods and drinks that can be high in sugars. Instead choose fruit based options with limited ingredients.

Do You Have Hearing Loss?

If you feel you’ve been struggling to hear it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. Along with modifying your diet, we recommend scheduling a hearing exam with us right away.