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Keep Your Hearing Sharp with a Healthy Diet

Keep Your Hearing Sharp with a Healthy Diet

Having trouble hearing? Your poor diet may be the cause.

In the comic strip Pickles, Earl is eating a sandwich. “Earl, you made a mess in the kitchen when you made that sandwich,” says Opal. “No thanks, I already made myself a sandwich, see? But I appreciate the offer.” “What? No, I said you didn’t clean up your mess.” “Yes that dress does look good on you,” says Earl. “Arghh,” screams Opal.

Turns out Earl may have a medical excuse for mishearing Opal’s complaints—his sandwich is ruining his hearing!

For a new study, researchers followed more than 70,000 women for 22 years and found that those whose diets closely resembled a Mediterranean diet (healthy oils from fish and olive oil, fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains) or the DASH diet (lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fiber, fish, nuts and beans and moderate intake of lean meats and sodium) were 30 percent less likely to suffer hearing loss than women whose diets were the most unhealthy. Why the difference? The Med and DASH diets help lower body-wide inflammation. An unhealthy diet, on the other hand, is pro-inflammatory and can affect nerves and restrict blood flow, damaging your hearing.

So pack your plate with healthy plant proteins; animal protein from salmon and ocean trout; whole grains with healthy fibers; extra virgin olive oil; and nuts and fruits. Not only will you be helping your overall health, you may keep your hearing sharp as you age—an essential part of maintaining a younger RealAge. (Find out your RealAge!)

Medically reviewed in March 2020.

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