Mediterranean diet could stop you going deaf: Adults who eat less red meat and more vegetables ‘are 30% less likely to lose their hearing’
- Scientists studied more than 3,000 women in the US and tracked their hearing
- They found healthier diets helped people hear high and mid frequencies
- Nutrients in orange vegetables, leafy greens and fish are beneficial
- Eating well improves circulation and may avoid damage caused by low oxygen
Eating healthily could stop people going deaf in old age, according to scientists.
A study has found people who ate more fruits and vegetables, beans, leafy greens and seafood and fish were less likely to report their hearing getting worse.
The foods which seemed to be best for hearing health were those found in the Mediterranean diet, suggesting the lifestyle choice has yet another health benefit.
People whose diet most closely matched it were found to have a up to 30 per cent lower risk of hearing decline.
Researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, studied 3,135 women with an average age of 59 and looked at their diets and hearing decline (stock image)
Scientists from Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, studied 3,135 women with an average age of 59.
Their hearing was tested over a three-year period and the researchers looked at 20 years’ worth of information about their diet.
Hearing tests measured low, mid and high frequency levels at varying volumes and the women had to indicate when they could just barely hear the sound any more.
In the mid-range, women were 30 per cent less likely to experience a decline if they ate a healthy diet.
And their risk of damaged high-frequency hearing was cut by 25 per cent.
‘A common perception is that hearing loss is an inevitable part of the aging process,’ said Dr Sharon Curhan, the lead investigator.
EXPLAINED: THE MEDITERRANEAN DIET
Consuming more fruit and fish, and fewer sugary drinks and snacks, are the most important aspects of a Mediterranean diet.
- Whole grains
- Fish and meat
- Monounsaturated fats, such as olive oil
- Saturated fats, like butter
- Red meat
- Processed foods, like juice and white bread
- A glass of red wine here and there is fine
How you can follow it:
- Eat more fish
- Squeeze more fruit & veg into every meal
- Swap your sunflower oil or butter for extra virgin olive oil
- Snack on nuts
- Eat fruit for dessert
‘However, our research focuses on… things that we can change in our diet and lifestyle to prevent hearing loss or delay its progression.
‘The benefits of adherence to healthful dietary patterns have been associated with numerous positive health outcomes and eating a healthy diet may also help reduce the risk of hearing loss.’
The ‘dietary patterns’ the scientists compared the women’s eating habits to were the Alternate Mediterranean diet, the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) diet and the Alternate Healthy Index-2010.
All focus on eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, cutting down on meat, dairy and processed foods, and adding fish, nuts and legumes such as beans and lentils.
Dr Curhan’s findings add to past research which suggested specific nutrients were linked to lower rates of self-reported hearing loss.
Carotenoids, found in squash, carrots and oranges; folate from leafy greens and legumes; and omega-3 fatty acids from fish have all been linked to reduced hearing loss.
In their paper the Brigham and Women’s team suggested the healthy diet’s ability to improve circulation could be how it benefits the ears.
Unhealthy and fatty foods are known to clog blood vessels and reduce blood supply, and Dr Curhan and her colleagues said inadequate blood flow to the inner ear could increase the risk of it becoming swollen or damaged.
They wrote: ‘Reduced blood flow can render cochlear cells vulnerable to ischemic
damage, impair maintenance… sensory hair cell function, and auditory signal amplification and lead to poorer auditory thresholds.
‘Additionally, these diets emphasize foods that are aggregate sources of compounds needed for antioxidative function and prevention of free radical damage, 48,49 and are associated with lower markers of oxidative stress.’
The study was published in the American Journal of Epidemiology.