Several studies have examined the relationship between specific nutrients and hearing, but researcher Brigham and Women’s Hospital took a more holistic view, looking at the relationship between diet and hearing.
The new study shows that women who have a pattern of healthy eating have a lower risk of hearing loss than women who don’t eat well. A healthy eating pattern includes lots of vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. It limits sugar, salt, and animal fat.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there are 360 million persons in the world with disabling hearing loss, 145 million are males while 180 million are female.
Researchers examined the health data collected by the Nurses’ Health Study II, Harvard, which tracked the diets and health of 70,966 women over a 22-year span. Healthy eating habits were scored using three different diet-rating systems: the alternate Mediterranean diet, or aMED; the “dietary approaches to stop hypertension,” or DASH diet; and the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010.
Their analysis showed women who adhered most closely to a healthy diet were least likely to develop hearing loss during the 22 years.
“Interestingly, we observed that those following an overall healthy diet had a lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss,” Dr Sharon Curhan, an epidemiologist at BWH, said in a news release. “Eating well contributes to overall good health, and it may also be helpful in reducing the risk of hearing loss.”
Women in the study were asked about their dietary habits every four years. Those who adhered most closely to the aMED and DASH diets had a 30 percent lower risk of moderate or worse hearing loss. Scientists found a similar relationship between hearing health and diet quality as measured by the AHEI-2010.
The aMED diet encourages the consumption of extra virgin olive oil, grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, nuts and fish. Moderate alcohol intake is permitted. The DASH diet emphasizes a high fruit and vegetable intake. It also calls for low-fat dairy and low-sodium foods. The AHEI-2010 diet features foods emphasized in both the aMED and DASH diets.
“Because the study included only women, more research is needed to see whether the results also apply to men,” Curhan emphasized.
Researchers published their findings this week in the Journal of Nutrition