So, we know that when we wear earplugs or earmuffs when exposed to loud noises such as concerts, construction sites, and leaf blowers we are protecting our hearing from future damage, right? Kudos to you for protecting your hearing! But, did you know another way to help protect our hearing? FOOD!!!
No, we are not asking you to stuff food in your ears. But we now know, through years of research, that certain foods you eat can have an effect on the hearing you have later or help maintain the current status of your hearing. Let’s explain...
Our “hair cells”, which are the nerves in the inner ear, translate sounds to the brain. These cells need plenty of oxygen which comes from strong, rich blood flow. Poor flow or circulation means the cells don’t get the sufficient nourishment; leading to cell damage. This results in hearing loss.
Vitamins and minerals which are good for overall health are now showing to also benefit our ears. Nutrients pack a punch when it comes to our hearing health. Let’s take a look at some of them.
Magnesium can protect against hearing loss by blocking “free-radical” molecules from damaging the inner ear. It helps expand blood vessels and can improve circulation in your ear. Evidence also suggests that Magnesium may play an important role in protecting our ears from damaging noise. Foods that are rich in Magnesium are dark chocolate, avocados, nuts, legumes, tofu, flax seeds, bananas, and broccoli.
Potassium helps regulate the fluid in our blood and tissues. Potassium is needed for our inner ear to convert sound into nerve impulses that get sent to the brain. As we get older our potassium levels drop, which can contribute to age-related hearing loss. Foods high in potassium include avocados, bananas, sweet potatoes, spinach, watermelon, coconut water, dried apricots, beets, and tomatoes.
Zinc can fight off bacteria and viruses and even treat sudden hearing loss. Research shows that zinc supplementation can help recover and improve hearing for those experiencing sudden sensorineural hearing loss. This wonderful immune boosting mineral produces and activates our body’s defender cells that specifically destroy bacteria, viruses and other invaders. Zinc is found in a variety of foods, especially meats and its products as well as fortified cereals. Please speak with your physician before taking any zinc supplements as they may interact with certain medications.
Folate (Folic Acid) is an anti-oxidant that helps metabolize blood flow to the inner ear and fights off free radicals which can reduce that ever important blood flow. Low levels of folate have been linked to higher incidence of hearing loss. Foods high in folic acid include asparagus, spinach, avocado, beans, peas, enriched cereals, breads, and pastas.
Vitamin D is important for bone health including the bones in our middle ear. Milk, salmon, mushrooms, fortified cereal, eggs, yogurt, cheese, canned fish, and oatmeal are high in this vitamin.
Vitamin A and C along with a diet rich in magnesium has been shown to halt production of free radicals which damage those delicate hair cells we need to hear properly. Carrots, cantaloupe, red and green peppers, sweet potato, strawberries, kiwi, and broccoli are rich in these vitamins.
What a delicious way to protect our ears! These wonderful foods that we know are super for our overall well-being as well as great for our ears. BON APPETIT!!