group of people around a dining table having a healthy meal discussing food and hearing health

Food that Promotes Hearing Health

When we think of protecting and enhancing our hearing, avoiding loud areas, or wearing earplugs when we are in these areas often comes to mind. But did you know that food and hearing health is also connected? There are several natural things you can do to help your sense of hearing before professional intervention is required, and one of them is to pay attention to what you eat.

Foods that contain multiple minerals and vitamins have been linked to an improvement of ear functioning and hearing, preventing damage and boosting overall ear health. The following are a few food items that are good for your hearing, keep in mind however that they are not a guarantee to prevent or cure hearing loss.

Beans, broccoli, and leafy greens

This food group has a high dose of folate (the synthetic form is folic acid). A high folic acid intake is associated with a decreased risk of developing age-related hearing loss. Adults who have low levels of folic acid are more likely to develop an age-related hearing loss. Folic acid increases the circulation of blood in our ears by metabolizing homocysteine (this is an inflammatory compound that reduces circulation). Good blood circulation maintains healthy hair cells in the inner ear and ensures that they work well. It also increases energy production in the cells that are responsible for hearing and generates new cell growth in the inner ear.

Other food that is high in folic acid includes spinach, kale, kidney beans, and chickpeas. In addition to folic acid, broccoli contains extra nutrients such as Vitamin K, Vitamin C, and fibre. This trio helps to reduce any damage to the tissue in your ear.

Dark chocolate

Healthy foods are not only vital to promote healthy ears and hearing, but you can also snack on some chocolate to protect your hearing. Dark chocolate contains two important minerals: magnesium and zinc. Zinc is responsible for cell growth and protects the hair cells in the ear. It also supports your body’s immune system and can help prevent ear infections. A deficiency in zinc is one of many contributors to age-related hearing loss. Magnesium supports nerve functioning and helps to prevent any damage to the inner lining of your arteries. Magnesium can protect you from noise-induced hearing loss. It does so by fighting the effects of free radicals generated by loud noises and therefore, acts as a barrier that can protect the inner hair cells. A lack of magnesium has also shown to shrink blood vessels, which may result in oxygen deprivation.

In addition to dark chocolate, there are other food items that contain magnesium and zinc. Magnesium-rich foods include avocado, whole grains, bananas, potatoes, spinach, and tomato. Zinc-rich foods include nuts, seeds, beef, pork, dark meat chicken, beans, and split peas.

Bananas

Bananas are rich in potassium, which is crucial for our inner ear as it is dependent on a high supply of potassium. Potassium is responsible for regulating the amount of fluid in the body and tissue, including the inner ear, and it expands our blood vessels to improve circulation. Potassium also controls the release of Glutamate. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that is a contributor to noise-induced hearing loss. If the release of this neurotransmitter is controlled, you are less likely to develop noise-induced hearing loss. As we get older, the level of potassium in our bodies drops, which can result in age-related hearing loss.

However bananas are not your only source of potassium. Other foods high in potassium include potatoes, oranges, tomatoes, raisins, spinach, and milk.

Fish

Fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acids that can help reduce the risk of age-related hearing loss. One theory is that it manages to do this by slowing down the aging of the cells in the ear and protecting it. It also improves and increases circulation in the inner ear and strengthens the blood vessels in our ears’ sensory system, which has a positive effect on hearing. Omega 3 also helps brain function that can result in signals between the ears and the brain being sent more effectively. If you do not like fish, you can look at consuming fish oil that can be found in walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, and fish oil supplements.

Whole grains, meats, and dairy products

The above food groups contain vitamin B, which has many benefits for your ears. Vitamin B improves and promotes circulation in the ears, it optimizes the oxygen use in hair cells and helps regulate fluid levels in the ear. Other food sources that contain vitamin B include fruits, legumes, and dark leafy vegetables such as spinach.

Citrus fruit

Citrus fruit such as oranges contain vitamin C and E, which are antioxidants that can protect the body from damage in multiple ways. These vitamins can protect your body tissue and can help prevent damage to your hair cells in your inner ear and preserve your ability to hear. Other foods that contain vitamin C and E include almonds, peanut butter, and sunflower oil.

It is never too late to protect your ears and hearing. Incorporating these food items into your diet can ensure that you are doing a little extra to take proper care of your ears. So plate up and eat well to hear well.

Blog author and hearing expert, Lisa Brown

Written byLisa Brown

Audiologist

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