WHAT’S ON YOUR PLATE?
Your Food Choices May Affect How Well You Hear
By Stephanie Nance, Au.D., CCC-A, of Hearing Life Greensboro
Have you been making an effort to eat a healthy diet in hopes of living a longer life? Are you consuming less red meat and more
fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy oils? Good news! Your healthy eating habits may pay off with another benefit: a lower risk of hearing loss as you age.
A study published recently in the Journal of Nutrition found that women who followed a healthy pattern of eating had a lower
risk of developing moderate or greater hearing loss than their counterparts who chose less healthy diets.
The study, published online May 11, focused on research at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) in Boston, where doctors
looked at the eating patterns of 70,966 women enrolled in a national study, known as the Nurses’ Health Study II, over a period of 22 years. The women answered questions about their eating habits to indicate how closely they followed one of three diets considered healthy: the Alternate Mediterranean (AMED), the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH), and the
Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010) diets.
Those who followed the AMED or DASH diets most closely were 30 percent less likely to develop hearing loss than those who
didn’t follow them very closely. The researchers noted that results from a smaller subgroup who provided more detailed hearing related data indicate that the reduced risk may be even higher than 30 percent – and that adherence to the AHEI-2010 diet may provide similar results.
“Eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss,” said Sharon Curhan, MD, an epidemiologist in the Channing Division of Network Medicine at BWH, and first author of the study, in a press release.
The study’s authors recommend more research to confirm their results.
What foods were considered healthy?
So, would you like to make sure you are following one of the diets that may lower your risk of hearing loss? Here’s an overview of the three diets included in the study:
The AMED diet focuses on grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts, fi sh, olive oil and moderate alcohol consumption.
According to an August 2015 story in Harvard Women’s Health Watch, the AMED diet envisions healthy food intake in a pyramid: “Vegetables, fruits, nuts, whole grains, and vegetable oils are the base of the diet. Fish are the second tier, with at
least two servings weekly suggested. Poultry and dairy are advised in moderation. Meats and sweets are to be consumed
The DASH diet, developed to help lower patients’ high blood pressure, also is high in fruits and vegetables and emphasizes
low salt intake. According to Harvard Women’s Health Watch, “it includes foods low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol, and lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Protein is supplied by low-fat dairy, fi sh, poultry and nuts. Red meat, sweets and sugary drinks are limited.”
The AHEI-2010 diet is similar to the AMED and DASH diets, emphasizing vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, legumes
and polyunsaturated fats, especially Omega-3 fatty acids. Sugar-sweetened beverages, fruit juices, red meat, sodium and
alcohol are limited.
What is the link between diet and hearing?
Just as it protects the heart, a healthy diet may also protect your hearing by reducing infl ammation and preventing damage to nerve fibers, the cochlea and other parts of your auditory system, the researchers suggest. If you have
questions about this study or about your hearing in general, give our office a call at 336-272-1721.
Stephanie Nance, Au.D., CCC-A, is an audiologist at Hearing Life
Greensboro. She is a doctor of audiology, with extensive experience
in evaluating hearing loss and fi tting patients with hearing aids and
other technology to help them maximize their hearing ability.