Millions of people around the world suffer from hearing loss. In fact, 30 million people just in the U.S. aged 12 years or older have hearing loss in both of their ears. But for those women who have yet to experience hearing loss, there’s good news: a recent study has found a healthy diet may help reduce the risk of hearing loss.
A study from Brigham and Women’s Hospital was recently published in The Journal of Nutrition. It looked at the relationship between diet and hearing loss. For the study, three different types of diets were examined: the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010), the Alternate Mediterranean diet (AMED), and Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH).
For 22 years, more than 70,000 women participated in the research. And after all those years, researchers found that women who practiced the AMED and DASH diets had a 30% lower risk of moderate hearing loss than those who followed other or no diets.
“Interestingly, we observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss,” explained Dr. Sharon Curhan, an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and first author of the study. “Eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss.”
Furthermore, a sub-cohort of 33,000 women who provided more detailed hearing loss-related information suggested that the reduced risk could be even more than 30% and could be related to the AHEI-2010 diet.
A Mediterranean diet, like the AMED, consists of fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seafood with cheeses, yogurts, and meats in small amounts. The DASH diet consists mainly of fruits and vegetables with moderate amounts of meat, dairy, and fish. And the AHEI-2010 diet shares similarities to both the AMED and the DASH diets.
While there still needs to be more research done in this area, the researchers agree that the study shows a strong connection between a healthy diet and minimal hearing loss.
This is great news for those who already eat healthy diets, especially the 67% of millennials who say they prefer to order healthy foods at restaurants. But aside from eating a healthy diet, what else can people do to prevent hearing loss?
People should always try to limit their exposure to significantly loud noises as much as possible. Sounds like loud music and engines should be avoided whenever possible or at least limited to 20 minutes at a time. Over time, continued exposure to loud noises can be detrimental to health and hearing. If someone does have to be exposed to loud noises, they should always wear the proper hear protection.
Additionally, people should get regular hearing tests. Hearing tests are key to detecting and preventing hearing loss early on. Already, it’s estimated that 900 million people around the world will be hearing impaired by 2025. So a great way to prevent hearing loss is to check for signs of hearing loss and get examined by a physician.
Hearing loss may not always be preventable. As people age, their hearing abilities tend to age and lessen as well. But by remaining healthy, limiting exposure to loud noises, and getting regular hearing tests, people can significantly reduce their chance of hearing loss.