A study recently published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found an association between diet and acquired hearing loss. This prospective cohort study included 3,135 U.S. women (mean age 59 years) enrolled in the Nurses’ Health Study II. Hearing was measured at baseline and at three-year follow-up. Evaluation of food-frequency questionnaires assessed how closely participants’ diets aligned with known healthy eating patterns such as the DASH diet and a Mediterranean eating pattern. In general, higher adherence scores were associated with lower risk of hearing loss. In the mid-frequencies, the odds of hearing loss were almost 30 percent lower among those women whose diets most closely resembled these healthful dietary patterns. In the high frequencies, the odds were 25 percent lower with the highest DASH score.
Following a healthy dietary pattern helps keep blood vessels clear from plaque build-up, which allows adequate blood flow to the cochlear cells responsible for hearing. The authors also speculated that nutrients found in plant foods may help protect the cells and the nerves that conduct auditory signals.