Did you hear that? Maybe it was popcorn popping in the kitchen, or perhaps the pattering of your dog’s feet as he scampered across the floor. Was is the birds waking and chirping, outside your window?
Our environments are filled with unique sounds, and a simple sound can trigger an emotional response that takes you back through beautiful memories or to faraway places. Taking care of hearing as we age will help us ensure a higher quality of perception and life.
We have all heard that we need to wear earmuffs or ear plugs in loud places like concerts, and not to turn the volume up too loudly on our headphones. Those are good practices, but what else can we do to help preserve our hearing, as we get older? The following tips will help you do your best to maintain and even potentially strengthen your hearing.
Eat for Your Ears
Hearing contributes to the enjoyment of eating. That satisfying “crunch” sound created by something like a tortilla chip, or that “squirt” noise from an extra-juicy peach are examples of how sound enhances the eating experience—but that’s not what we mean by “eat for your ears!”
A recent 22-year study conducted by medical professionals associated with Brigham and Women’s Hospital found that simply following one of three healthy diets decreased likelihood of hearing loss by at least 30 percent; the Alternative Mediterranean Diet (AMED), Dietary Approaches to Hypertension (DASH), or the Alternative Healthy Eating Index-2010 (AHEI-2010).
On a more micro level, certain nutrients like folic acid have been linked to a decline in hearing loss associated with aging populations. Legumes, broccoli, asparagus and beets contain some of the highest contents of folic acid. This list of 15 foods from Healthline is a great place to start.
Zinc may not be a mineral you think of often, but it is very important for both a healthy immune system and the defense against hearing loss. This particular study found an improvement in tinnitus and sensorineural hearing loss in one-third of elderly adults. Those numbers are encouraging when you compare them to this study from Oregon State University that estimates as many as 40% of the elderly population may be zinc deficient. Adding more zinc to your diet is not a daunting task—try eating more dark chocolate, sweet potatoes, cashews, or a number of the other delicious foods on this list from WorldHealth.
Diets rich in vitamins A and C in conjunction with magnesium have been shown to halt the production of damaging free-radical molecules that attack the sensitive hairs in our inner hair we use to hear properly. Great sources of vitamin A include carrots, red peppers, beef liver, and even vanilla ice cream! Eat This, Not That put together a list of eight great food filled with Vitamin A.
For Vitamin C, we have all heard of citrus, but foods like bell peppers, guavas and strawberries have even more of this vital antioxidant! MyFoodData put together a list of the top ten foods highest in vitamin C. Here’s a hint: hit the produce aisle!
To increase your magnesium intake, look to pumpkin seeds, almonds, soymilk, and even shredded wheat cereal. Many of the foods you love may be higher on this list of foods with magnesium from the Cleveland Clinic.
Get Your Hearing Tested Regularly
As with all health matters, prevention is key. So be sure to talk to your doctor about your own personal hearing health and be sure to get regular checkups.
Protecting our ears is not something we tend to think about on a daily basis—even though we use them all the time! Even when we are sleeping, our ears are active. We use them beyond just our basic communication—we use them to perceive so much about the world around us and rely on them to activate certain mental and physical responses.
If you eat for your ears and follow the above best practices, you will greatly increase the likelihood your hearing remains strong as you age. Now sit back, close your eyes, and just listen …