You exercise and eat right to keep your body healthy, but shouldn’t that apply to your ears too? Many people see hearing loss as a natural consequence of aging and don’t take it into account in their everyday lives. Your hearing is one of your most important senses and the things you do now does affect it later on. Everything from fatty foods to smoking to Couchsurfing contributes to the age-related hearing loss. Open your mind a bit when strategizing those healthy lifestyle changes and consider some preventative measures that benefit your heart and hearing at the same time.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your entire body including your ears. A 2009 study conducted by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) found a connection between cardiovascular health and age-related hearing loss. They determined that cardiovascular disease was a factor in the loss of hearing very late in life and lack of exercise leads to cardiovascular disease.
A 2013 study published in The American Journal of Medicine looked at how body mass index (BMI), waist circumference and physical activity factored into the hearing equation. They were able to conclude that the better fit you are, the better your chance of keeping your hearing. Even the American Journal of Audiology identified a direct link between cardiovascular health and hearing function. With that much proof on hand, it’s clear that sitting on the couch day after day will cost you in many ways, so start a regular workout schedule or, at least, find time to take a walk most days of the week.
There is a reason mom said you are what you eat. There is a certain nutritional aspect to maintaining ear health. Omega 3 fatty acids, for instance, are deemed healthy foods good for the heart but studies show they also help protect you against age-related hearing loss. Look to get some omega-3 fatty acids in oily fish like salmon.
While you are out shopping for fish, make sure to get pick up some greens, too. Spinach, kale and asparagus are all rich in folic acid, an antioxidant that helps to reduce nerve damage including the type that keeps the ears from talking to the brain. Add some magnesium found in bananas and artichokes to your plate and you are eating your way to better 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.