Health Advice



Nutrition News: Better Nutrition, Better Hearing

Charlyn Fargo on

It may surprise you to know that research shows your diet can affect your susceptibility to hearing loss.

A study looking at the relationship between diet, tinnitus and hearing difficulties was published in the March/April issue of Ear and Hearing journal. Researchers looked at 34,576 U.K. adults between the ages of 40 and 69. Dietary assessment was based on a detailed computerized questionnaire about their intake of 200 commonly consumed food and beverages in the previous 24 hours.

The study was funded and reported by the National Institutes of Health and found that a lack of vitamins A, B, C, D and E, and minerals zinc, magnesium, selenium, iron or iodine led to an increased incidence of hearing loss. Researchers attributed this to the increased antioxidants from the vitamins and minerals, which inhibit the formation of free radicals that can contribute to hearing loss.

In addition, diets high in carbohydrates, cholesterol and fats and lower in protein corresponded to poorer hearing status, attributed to negative effect on the vascular system and blood flow to the ear's cochlea, the spiral cavity of the inner ear where nerve impulses are produced in response to sound vibrations.

Researchers found that consuming more healthy fats such as omega-3s had a positive impact on hearing by improving blood supply to the cochlea.

Tinnitus is defined as ringing or buzzing in the ear and can lead to hearing loss. A study cited by the American Auditory Society notes that higher intakes of calcium and fat were associated with increased occurrences of tinnitus. In addition, higher intakes of B12 and protein were associated with reduced occurrences of tinnitus.


The bottom line? A diet low in fat and high in vitamins and antioxidants may be important for hearing health.

Q and A

Q: Is watermelon healthy?

A: Watermelon is 92% water, so it's a simple way to help stay hydrated. And just one medium slice of watermelon contains 9% to 11% of the vitamin A you need each day, which is important for keeping eyes healthy. It's low in calories -- 45.6 per cup, compared to 300 calories in a cup of ice cream. Unlike many other desserts, watermelon is fat-free, cholesterol-free and has no sodium. It's also high in potassium, a mineral that could help cut down on leg cramps. The sugar in watermelon is natural, so it's digested by your body differently than added sugars, so don't shy away from natural sugars.


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