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Food for Your Ears
A big part of our culture has evolved into focusing on health and fitness. Actually, the Boston Medical Center indicates that approximately 45 million Americans diet each year and spend $33 billion on weight-loss products in their pursuit of a trimmer, fitter body. But something most people don’t think about focusing on when pursuing a more healthy lifestyle, is healthy hearing.
Did you know that what you eat can effect how well your ears perform over time? There are many different minerals that will help preserve your hearing, such as potassium, folic acid, magnesium, and zinc. Eating foods rich in these minerals along with protecting your ears from noise-related damage will prevent you from becoming that old guy who always says, “what?”
Potassium is responsible for regulating the amount of fluid in your blood and body tissue. That’s important to your hearing health because there is fluid in the inner ear, which translates the noises we hear into electrical impulses the brain interprets as sound. This is dependent upon a rich supply of potassium. As we age, those levels naturally drop which could contribute to presbycusis- or age-related hearing loss, yikes!
Potassium-rich foods include: potatoes, spinach, lima beans, tomatoes, raisins, apricots, bananas, melons, oranges, yogurt and milk. With springtime picnics marking the calendar, think about making your favorite potato salad or bring along a fruit salad with citrus and melons for tasty and potassium-rich side dishes.
Folic acid is a critical element in your body’s ability to generate new cell growth. Studies have shown that adults with low levels of folic acid in their blood are more likely to develop presbycusis. Some studies show folic acid supplements may slow down hearing loss. That might be because the body uses folic acid to metabolize homocysteine, an inflammatory compound that reduces circulation. Good circulation is an important component in keeping the hair cells of the inner ear healthy and working properly.
Folate-rich foods include organ meats, spinach, broccoli and asparagus.
Research conducted at the University of Michigan Kresge Hearing Research Institute has shown that people pretreated with magnesium (along with Vitamins A, C, and E) were protected from noise-related hearing loss. Scientists believe this is because magnesium combats the effects of free radicals emitted during loud noises — almost like a protective barrier for the delicate hair cells in the inner ear. Also, lack of adequate magnesium in the inner ear causes the blood vessels to shrink, depriving it of valuable oxygen.
Foods rich in magnesium include fruits and vegetables such as bananas, artichokes, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli. Spring is the perfect time for fresh artichokes. Cook them in boiling water 20-30 minutes and serve them with warmed butter or a cool dill yogurt dip. Bonus- the yogurt dip will provide potassium too!
Zinc boosts the body’s immune system and is also responsible for cell growth and healing wounds, so it’s potentially helpful in warding off germs that cause the common cold and even pesky ear infections. Some studies suggest it’s also effective in treating tinnitus in individuals with normal hearing. Zinc does interact with antibiotics and diuretics though, so seek a physician’s advice before using supplements.
Foods rich in zinc include beef, pork and dark-meat chicken, cashews, almonds, peanuts, beans, split peas, lentils, oysters and dark chocolate.
Pair these foods with hearing protection from FLUXX and your hearing will be better than ever!