Hard of Hearing? Try eating this!

Are you tired of constantly asking others to repeat themselves and speak up? Recent studies have shown that the introduction of two simple nutrients—folate and omega-3 fatty acids—may assist in age-related and premature hearing loss.

New findings published in the Journal of Nutrition suggest that low levels of the B-vitamin folate (found in spinach, black-eyed peas and other leafy greens and beans) are associated with a 35 percent higher risk of hearing loss in people 50 and over. Researchers studied nearly 3,000 people in the Australia-based Blue Mountains Hearing Study and found that a deficiency of folate causes homocysteine levels to increase (a known risk factor for heart disease), while at the same time restricting blood flow to the cochlea—that part of the ear which converts sound energy into electrical signals that are received by the brain.

In a separate study of the same participants, the authors found that those who ate two or more servings of fish a week were less likely to develop age-related hearing loss compared to people who had less than a serving a week. Plus, among participants who already had some hearing loss, those who ate more fish saw its progression slow. Researchers think that the omega-3s in fish and their anti-inflammatory properties help to lower a person’s vascular risk factors—such as high blood pressure—which, in turn, could help to protect against hearing loss. The active ingredient in the omega-3s are known as EPA and DHA which has been shown to increase the blood vascular supply to the cochlea and in turn stimulating the nerve transmission to be registered as sound to our brain. “Therefore, preventing age-related hearing loss,” says study author Bamini Gopinath, Ph.D. “And it’s possible that folate can, too, but more research is needed.” Can you hear us now?

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