You workout regularly and watch your diet just to stay healthy but shouldn’t that apply to your hearing too? Many people see a loss of hearing as a something that happens naturally due to aging but fail to take it into account how bad habits affect it. The hearing sense is one the most important you have and what you do now does matter if you want to keep it. Everything from eating fast food to refusing to give up the cigarettes to hitting the couch for hours at a time contributes to changes in the hearing related to aging. It’s time to make some positive choices by considering preventative measures that benefit your heart and hearing at the same time.
Exercise is the single best thing you can do for your entire body including your ears. A 2009 study conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) determined there is a connection between heart health and the gradual hearing loss associated with aging. They found that heart disease was a factor in hearing loss very late in life and failure to exercise leads to cardiovascular disease.
A 2013 study published in The American Journal of Medicine looked at how body mass index, waist circumference and physical activity factored into hearing loss. They concluded that the more fit a person was, the better their chance of retaining their hearing as they grow older. Even the American Journal of Audiology identified an association between cardiovascular health and hearing function. With that much evidence, it’s clear that sitting on the couch day after day will cost you in many ways, so hit the gym or go for a walk most days of the week.
There is a reason they say you are what you eat. There is definitely a nutritional aspect to maintaining ear health. Omega 3 fatty acids, for example, are deemed heart healthy foods but studies show they also provide protection against age-related hearing loss. Look for omega-3 three in oily fish like salmon.
While you are at it, make sure to get your green on, too. Spinach, broccoli and asparagus are all rich in folic acid, an antioxidant known for reducing nerve damage including the kind that affects the one that connects the ears to the brain. Add some magnesium found in bananas and artichokes to your diet and you are eating your way to good ear health.
Start Eating to Prevent Chronic Disease
When it comes to what you eat, the rest of the body matters just as much as your ears. Preventing chronic illnesses like hypertension, cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes also protects your hearing. It might surprise you to know the kinds of foods can help fight disease like:
- Wine – Red wine is good for the body, especially the heart, in moderation. Just be sure to keep it to one glass a day and check with your doctor before you start.
- Cocoa – You know that good stuff chocolate is made from, a little each day will improve your brain health without blowing your diet. When you shop, look for dark chocolate with a high percentage of cacao.
- Almonds – They make an effective and efficient high-protein snack with lots of crunch to help lower cholesterol levels for better heart and brain health. Stick to just a few each day, though. They add a lot of calories to your diet.
While meal planning, find ways to cut the salt. Excess salt leads to water retention and higher blood pressure.
Of course, don’t ignore the things that you do just for your ears when considering smart health choices. Sound hygiene refers to protecting your ears from the noise that leads to damage. Don’t wear headphones or earbuds to listen to music or talk on the phone. They introduce loud noise directly into the ear canal. By the time it reaches the sensitive mechanisms of the inner ear, it is strong enough to cause problems. If you are going out for the night to a club or to hear a band, wear ear protection to prevent the sound vibrations from causing ear trauma.
Get Quality Sleep
If you need eight hours a night, then get eight hours a night. Make an appointment with your doctor if you think you might suffer from sleep apnea, as well. Sleep apnea tends to point to underlying problems that affect the ears like poor circulation or inflammation. Research suggests that those with untreated sleep apnea develop hearing problems, especially with low and high-frequency sounds.
Learn to live right and your ears will thank you. If you already think you have a problem with your hearing, now is the time to see your doctor for a professional hearing exam and test.