Hearing loss is becoming an increasingly common occurrence across all age groups. In the United States, 13% of people aged 12 years and older have hearing loss in both ears. By age 18 and above, this swells to 15%. Globally, more than 1.5 billion people are expected to report hearing loss by 2030.
Among the three hearing loss types, over 90% of hearing loss adults fall under sensorineural hearing loss (SNHL). Also called “nerve deafness”, SNHL can be caused by a variety of reasons. SNHL caused by genetics is present in up to three per 1,000 babies born. Meanwhile, even among those with initially good hearing, SNHL can occur due to aging or loud noises. Additionally, there are over 100 potential health-related causes that can further result in SNHL. These include head trauma, tumors, disorders, and autoimmune diseases. This wide variety of probable causes is largely why more instances of hearing loss are being recorded.
Thankfully, while hearing loss seems relatively easy to trigger, it is also quite easy to prevent. One of the most effective methods to do so is via food. Several new studies have revealed that a person’s diet can impact hearing health and reduce the odds of SNHL. For those looking to improve their hearing health and prevent instances of loss, here are some of the best foods to consider:
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are fantastic sources of vitamins D and B12. Both of these vitamins have been proven to help improve overall ear health and even treat existing hearing loss symptoms. As a key factor in bone health, vitamin D can help strengthen the three small bones in your middle ear that transmit sound. Meanwhile, B12 has been determined by researchers to negate common symptoms like tinnitus. For those on a vegan diet who don’t consume any dairy products for vitamin D or B12, it’s advised to take fortified dairy substitutes or supplements like our B12 drops.
Optimal nerve function and hair cell structure are integral to the inner ear. With whole grains, you can achieve both since they are packed with magnesium. This has been proven to increase blood circulation, which is critical to the nerves and cell turnover. Some examples of whole grains you can include in your diet are whole oats, whole rye, and whole wheat. Should you be gluten-intolerant, you can still enjoy your whole grains with gluten-free options like millet and corn. As an added bonus, these latter two examples are also rich in potassium which helps regulate inner ear fluids.
Since many cases of SNHL are also caused by ear infections, it’s a good idea to boost your immunity. Legumes like peas and beans are full of zinc, which is a mineral that can significantly boost immunity with regular consumption. Since zinc is able to fight off bacteria and viruses, infections can be stemmed before they cause any serious damage. Because zinc is also a known anti-inflammatory mineral, it can alleviate occurrences of sudden hearing loss.
Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and lettuce are renowned for their health properties. These include folate, potassium, and antioxidants. While potassium can prevent age-related hearing loss, folate can reduce homocysteine levels in the body. If homocysteine is allowed to build up, it can impair the ear’s vascular system. Antioxidants, on the other hand, can help the body flush out free radicals which can contribute to inner ear damage.
Of course, total hearing health relies on more than just food. You also need to be mindful of other aspects of your diet like exercise and safety. That said, since food can be a powerful vehicle to nourish our bodies, it’s not a bad idea to incorporate more hearing-friendly foods into your daily meals.
Amelia Reed has been writing professionally for the better part of two decades. A passionate advocate for wellness and universal healthcare, she loves to write about topics that encourage holistic well-being.