Growing up we’ve all heard that certain foods are associated with aspects of our health. Milk for strong bones, carrots for good eyesight, spinach for muscles and an apple a day to keep the doctor away. By now, most of us know that a varied and balanced diet, with plenty of fruits and vegetables, is key to our overall good health, but are there specific foods we can eat to protect our ears and our hearing?
To explore that idea, let’s talk about the parts of the ear and the vitamins and nutrients some researchers say may help us protect those parts and maintain good hearing health:
Blood Vessels: The blood vessels in our ears are small, small, small, small and highly susceptible to the effects of high blood pressure. The DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet from the Mayo Clinic, emphasizes a diet low in salt and full of foods rich in nutrients like Potassium, Calcium and Magnesium to keep blood pressure down. FOODS TO EAT: Bananas, Spinach, Potatoes, Melons, Artichokes
Malleus, Incus, and Stapes Bones: The three tiniest bones in the human body are found in the ear. Due to their delicate nature, they need to be cared for with foods high in Calcium and Vitamin D to keep them healthy and strong. FOODS TO EAT: Milk, Kale, Broccoli, Yogurt, Salmon
Hair Cells: Hair cells detect movement and are the sensory receptors in the ears of all vertebrates. Damage to hair cells causes hearing loss and cannot be reversed. Folic Acid has been shown to improve circulation and Magnesium and Vitamin C protect against free radicals which may be beneficial to hair cells. FOODS TO EAT: Asparagus, Beans, Rice, Tomatoes, Berries
Inner Ear Fluid: Inner ear fluid, or Endolymph, is critical to hearing and to balance. The fluid both delivers materials to and removes waste from the inner ear and is recycled daily. Potassium plays a role in regulating fluids in the body and should be a part of any ear-healthy diet. FOODS TO EAT: Bananas, Lima Beans, Apricots, Oranges, Potatoes
Immune System: While not a part of the ear, the immune system is crucial to fighting off illnesses that can impact the ear. Vitamin C and Vitamin E are known antioxidants and good for the whole body. FOODS TO EAT: Almonds, Sunflower Oil, Turnip Greens, Citrus Fruits, Red Peppers
Many doctors and nutritionists encourage people to get the necessary vitamins and minerals by eating whole foods. Make sure to discuss any dietary changes with your healthcare provider before starting a new eating plan.
Your ears will reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle, along with the rest of your body. Remember to also protect your ears in noisy environments and to limit headphone use to maintain healthy hearing. With our ears, it’s about what we take in with our daily food, and what we let in with our daily noise levels. Schedule an appointment with us to discuss ear protection and to evaluate your hearing health.