Ear Nutrition: Hear All About ItIn the world of nutrition, it seems some body parts are more popular than others. The first organs or body parts that come to mind when we discuss the effects healthy food (or lack thereof) include the heart, brain, bones, blood vessels, intestines, or eyes. A healthy, balanced diet does have a direct and major effect on all of these body parts. Thankfully, a growing body of evidence shows the protective effect of a healthy diet on another precious organ--the ear. It turns out hearing and nutrition go hand in hand.
Information Worth Hearing AboutYou may already be familiar with free radicals and the danger associated with them. These are unpaired molecules that go on a rampage throughout the body in search of another molecule to pair with. In the process of robbing molecules, they injure cells, damage their DNA, and create an environment favorable for disease to occur
Free radicals know no boundaries. They can wreak havoc even in the inner ear, the site where most hearing loss is thought to occur. Free radical damage in this portion of the ear can start the process of hearing loss known as presbycusis. The quality of our diet impacts how vulnerable our ears are to hearing loss.
Eat Well, Hear WellThe American Journal of Clincal Nutrition reports that beta-carotene, magnesium, and vitamin C protect ears from age-related hearing loss. Participants who had greater intake of these vitamins and minerals had better hearing at speaking level and higher frequencies.
The journal Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery published findings that deficiencies in vitamin B12 and folic acid impair hearing because of the harmful effect these deficiencies have on the nervous system as well as the coating over the cochlear nerve.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition studied the effects regular, weekly consumption of fish and high intakes of omega-3 fatty acids have on hearing. A regular intake of omega-3 fatty acids can also slow down the development of hearing loss. When blood supply to the cochlea decreases because of some degree of cardiovascular disease, the structure starts to degenerate and lose its function. Researchers suggest that omega-3 fatty acids protect the ear by maintaining adequate blood supply to the cochlea.
Many diets are not only low in the nutrients that prevent hearing loss but they are also high in nutrients that can promote hearing loss. In contrast to antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, diets high in sugar can promote hearing loss. The December 2010 issue of the Journal of Nutrition reports that both a high-glycemic load diet as well as a diet high in carbohydrates overall increases the risk of hearing loss by 76%. Although the exact mechanism is not firmly established, most research studies point to the damaging effects of high blood sugar and surges of insulin. These can lead to cardiovascular disease which, in turn, disrupts normal blood flow through the fragile structures in the ear.
Certainly, protecting the ears from noise pollution and loud music has its role. However, research confirms that quality nutrition can prevent or delay the burden of age-related hearing loss. EnergyFirst supplies all these ear-protective nutrients, including our high potency Vitamin C supplement, OmegaEnergy Fish Oil supplement, and our EnergyOne Multivitamin and mineral plus ACE supplement.
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Am J Clin Nutr. 2010 Aug;92(2):416-21. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2010.29370. Epub 2010 Jun 9.