You might assume that a gradual loss of hearing is just one of those inevitable things that happens to us as we get older. According to new research, however, there’s actually a link between what we eat and how likely it is we’ll need to invest in hearing aids as we age.
The information comes from Brigham Health in Boston, where they specifically observed women over a three year period to detect any differences in hearing ability. They also took into account whether the participants followed healthy meal options throughout their lives, like the DASH or Mediterranean diets, versus those who didn’t. The women came from “geographically diverse” areas all across the United States and were all in their early 50s and 60s, which is younger than most people even think about getting their hearing checked.
“We were surprised that so many women demonstrated hearing decline over such a relatively short period of time,” lead author Sharon Curhan, MD, said in a press release. “After only three years, 19 percent had hearing loss in low frequencies, 38 percent had hearing loss in the mid-frequencies, and almost half had hearing loss in higher frequencies.”
These levels of hearing loss are significant, though usually not noticeable enough for someone to observe on their own. Just think about how many times you ask someone to repeat themselves and then go about your day without giving it any more consideration. It’s something we tend to brush off, but one that can signal more significant hearing loss is in the near future.
While that may sound like it simply confirms that we just can’t hear as well as we age, the researchers also found that women who followed healthier diets and lifestyles were 30 percent less likely to show those signs of hearing loss in mid-range frequencies and 25 percent less likely in higher-frequencies. This led Curhan and her team to believe that along with all of the other benefits that we already associate with eating healthier, like weight loss and heart health, doing so can help keep our ears perked up, too.
More research will need to be done to fine-tune these findings, but it's already great news for anyone who's already following a nutrient-rich diet — and yet another compelling reason to start adding more nourishing options to your plate each day.