HOW MINERALS CAN PROTECT YOUR HEARING

You’ve heard it before: be sure to get all your vitamins and minerals! Some people swear by a multi-vitamin supplement and some like to get all the needed nutrients from food. Either way, most people understand that getting enough vitamins and minerals is important for optimal health. It’s common knowledge that Vitamin C and zinc can boost immunity and calcium can benefit bones and teeth. But did you know that there are minerals that are important to maintain healthy hearing as well?

Why do we need minerals?

Minerals are inorganic elements that are found in rock and soil; they are essential, meaning the body needs them and does not manufacture them on its own. We get minerals by eating vegetables that absorb them from the soil in which they are grown, as well as from the meat of animals that have grazed on vegetation.

A few important minerals for hearing health are potassium, folate, magnesium and zinc.

Potassium helps to regulate the fluids in our blood and tissues. Our inner ears contain fluid that is crucial to helping our bodies translate noise into understandable sounds. Thus our brains are dependent on this fluid, and a rich supply of potassium, to hear and understand the world around us.

Fortunately, potassium is easily found in common foods such as tomatoes, bananas, yogurt, spinach, potatoes, raisins, lima beans, melons, milk and oranges. Getting a healthy variety of fresh, whole foods in your diet and “eating the rainbow” can assure you get plenty of potassium.

Folate is an important nutrient for new cell growth in the body. Folic acid, the synthetic form of folate, is also available in supplement form, though it is best to try to get folate from food such as spinach, broccoli, asparagus, and organ meats.

Magnesium is another important mineral that has been shown in studies to protect against hearing loss. Magnesium can help to combat free radicals that are produced when exposed to very loud noises, protecting the hair cells of the inner ear. Magnesium also contributes to healthy blood vessels, which deliver valuable oxygen to the ear, crucial to hearing health.

Magnesium can be found in a variety of delicious foods, including artichokes, bananas, potatoes, spinach, tomatoes and broccoli.

Zinc is an immune-booster for the body, as you may know from some supplements on the market that contain zinc and claim to ward off cold and flu viruses. Zinc also assists with cell growth and wound healing. Some studies have found zinc effective in treating tinnitus and ear infections as well, though it can sometimes interact with pharmaceutical antibiotics and diuretics.

Zinc is found in foods such as pork, dark-meat chicken and pork, cashews, almonds, lentils, split peas, beans, peanuts, oysters and dark chocolate. Good news for nutty dark chocolate lovers!

The great news is that as long as you’re getting a balanced diet of fresh, whole foods, you are probably getting a good balance of these minerals and other nutrients that contribute to hearing health.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.

EXERCISE MAY BE GOOD FOR YOUR EARS, TOO!

How much exercise do you get in a typical week? Whether it’s a run around the block, a long walk around the mall or a trip to the gym, we all know that movement is good for our bodies, but did you know it may be good for your hearing as well?

Studies now show that as many as 20% of Americans, and 33% of Americans over the age of 65, suffer from hearing loss. We have also learned that hearing loss can affect much more than just hearing: studies have shown increased risk of depression, dementia and social isolation when hearing loss is a factor. Hearing loss can also make it more difficult to work, which results in income loss for hearing loss sufferers. And since hearing loss is not reversible, anything we can do to prevent or slow hearing loss will be a positive.

The various structures of the ear breaking down as we age contribute to different types of hearing loss. It was found, however, that mice who exercised experienced an average of 5% hearing loss as they aged, while sedentary mice experienced 20% hearing loss.

Exercise increases circulation, which preserves necessary capillaries that deliver blood and oxygen to the ear to preserve the cochlea and other surrounding structures. Elevating your heart rate at least a few times a week is ideal, though taking a daily walk around the neighborhood is also beneficial.

The CDC (U.S. Center for Disease Control), 20% of Americans do not get adequate amounts of exercise. Exercise has so many proven health benefits that hearing loss prevention is just one more added onto a long list of positive things resulting from a less sedentary lifestyle.

Aerobic activity slows the aging process by increasing energy and oxygen to every cell of your body, contributes to faster recovery from chronic illness, improves your skin by increasing circulation, improves your mood by inducing a natural calm state, boosts brain health by reducing age-related loss of brain tissue, and gives you more energy throughout the day to do other activities and chores.

Exercising for only 16 minutes three times per week has been shown to improve health and contribute to all of these benefits. And of course, exercising also contributes to a healthy body weight and positive overall body image. In fact, many have found better results by short bursts of exercise rather than long, drawn out cardiovascular sessions. Staying in motion as much as possible during the day is an easy way to get the most benefit possible. Many people set 10,000 steps per day as a goal to motivate them to stay moving, utilizing tools such as fitness trackers and even health apps on smartphones.

Other ways to protect your hearing and prevent hearing loss are a healthy diet (avoid processed foods whenever possible and eat whole foods to maximize nutrient absorption), avoid loud noises and practice listening skills to train your brain to distinguish sound more effectively.

Because hearing loss can progress slowly, annual hearing screenings are crucial. We may not notice these gradual changes in hearing ability on our own until damage is done.

Here at California Hearing Center we are committed to your hearing health. Call us today to set up an appointment for a hearing screening.