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Hearing Loss: Prevention Through Nutrition

Hearing LossThere are many ways to support and maintain healthy hearing–protecting ears from noise pollution, turning down the music, and getting a regular checkup from an audiologist, but nutrition also plays a key part in hearing preservation. Studies confirm that hearing loss and poor nutrition go hand and hand. An Australian study reported on in the Journal of Nutrition, has shown that diets high in sugar and carbohydrates detrimentally impacts hearing. A similar study showed that diets high in cholesterol also contribute to hearing loss normally associated with aging. Cutting out sugary and cholesterol rich foods would be a good start to a hearing fitness plan, but good hearing nutrition doesn’t only take into account what a diet includes, but also what is lacking.

Hearing loss is the third most common health problem in the United States, but few people are aware that changing their nutrition can help guard against it.

Deficiency in nutrients, like B12 and folic acid can impair hearing by as much as 39% while increasing these nutrients, according to some studies, can protect hearing by as much as 20%. Folic acid deficiency specifically has been linked with high-frequency hearing loss. Research reported on in the December 2010 issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery indicates that deficiencies in folic acid and B12 impinge on hearing by harming the nervous and vascular systems and perhaps even damaging the coating over the cochlear nerve. Much of this damage is due to free radicals.

Antioxidants like B12, folic acid, Omega 3, and vitamin A are all important because they help fight off damaging free radicals.
Free radicals are everywhere and cannot be avoided, but the damage they inflict increases with poor nutrition and stress. Free radicals damage many parts of the body, so combating their presence with antioxidants not only protects hearing but has many other healthful benefits. An antioxidant rich diet can also help fight against ototoxicity, the damage some drugs like those used to battle depression and cancer can do to the inner ear.

Antioxidants are found in high quantities in healthy leafy greens and other foods like lentils, dried beans, and bananas. Substituting these nutritious foods for high cholesterol and high sugar foods would go a long way to preserving hearing and fighting off free radicals.

Eating Right
for Older Adults
Eating right doesn’t have to be complicated. Before you eat, think about what goes on your plate or in your bowl. Choose foods that provide the nutrients you need without too many calories.

Make half your plate
fruits and vegetables.
Eat a variety of vegetables, especially dark-green, red and orange vegetables plus beans and peas. Fresh, frozen and canned vegetables all count. Choose “reduced sodium” or “no-salt-added” canned vegetables.
Add fruit to meals and snacks. Buy fruits that are dried, frozen or canned in water or 100% juice, as well as fresh fruits.

Make at least half your
grains whole.
Choose 100% whole-grain breads, cereals, crackers, pasta and brown rice. Also, look for fiber-rich cereals to help stay regular.
Switch to fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese.

Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help keep bones healthy. Include three servings of fat-free or low-fat milk, yogurt or cheese each day.

Vary your protein choices
Eat a variety of foods from the protein food group each week, such as seafood, nuts, and beans and peas, as well as lean meat, poultry and eggs.

Cut back on sodium and empty calories from solid fats and added sugars.
Look out for salt in foods you buy. Compare sodium in foods and choose those with lower numbers. Add spices or herbs to season food without adding salt.

Make major sources of saturated fats such as desserts, pizza, cheese, sausages and hot dogs occasional choices, not every day foods.
Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Enjoy your food but eat less.
Most older adults need fewer calories than in younger years. Avoid oversized portions. Try using a smaller plate, bowl and glass.
Cook more often at home, where you are in control of what’s in your food.

When eating out, choose lower calorie menu options. When portions are large, share a meal or take half home for later.

HearUSA
Boca Raton – Delray Beach
1-855-270-1587

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