October 10, 2014

Can Red Wine Improve Your Hearing?

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Written by: Anna

Listen up: the growing buzz surrounding the anti-aging, antioxidant called resveratrol found in various foods such as grapes, peanuts, and even red wine is getting even louder. A new study published in Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery says that resveratrol may protect against hearing loss.

The research behind this hopeful discovery involved exposing rats to loud noise, and giving one group of them a resveratrol supplement before the experiment. The results were that the rodents who did not have resveratrol in their system experienced hearing loss, plus suffered increased inflammation, free radical formation, and DNA damage. These effects are all linked to hearing loss.

However, the rats that did receive resveratrol beforehand had significantly less hearing loss. In fact, the rodents that received the supplement were measured to have 90 fewer signs of damage, including inflammation and development of dangerous free radicals.

So, what do these results mean for humans at risk of hearing loss? Dr. Seidman, director at the division of ontologic/neurologic surgery at the Henry For Health system, is optimistic that the results could be applicable to humans, too. Resveratrol works its magic by blocking the inflammation that leads to hearing loss, which is experienced in both humans and rats.

This is good news to hear!

If you enjoy a glass of red wine after dinner, it may help protect your ears against hearing loss, but Dr. Seidman recommends loading up on a variety of nutrients to help stave of potential damage. Here are a few good sources:

Eating fish about twice a week can reduce your risk of suffering from age-related hearing loss by up to 42%, according to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Fry up some salmon tonight to get a healthy does of essential fatty acids that improve blood flow to your ears to help protect your hearing.

An apple a day keeps the doctor away—including the ear doctor. Apples contain a flavonoid called quercetin, which fights damaging free radicals that often threaten our hearing.

Fortified cereals offer tons of zinc, which can reduce inflammation that may occur in your inner ear.  Simply incorporate some whole grain cereal into your breakfast routine to reap the benefits of zinc.

Human ears are more sensitive than you might think, and can be damaged by repeated exposure to 85 decibels, which is about the loudness of a hairdryer. So here are a few ways to reduce your risk of hearing loss in every day life:

  • Invest in earplugs. These will come in handy in a variety of situations from mowing the lawn to attending a loud concert. You may feel a bit silly wearing them, but you it’s better than sacrificing one of your five senses.
  • Limit your exposure to loud noises. This may seem like a no-brainer, but simply becoming aware of the types of loud noises your ears are subjected to can help you to reduce the frequency of exposure to them.

Turn down the music. There’s nothing wrong with listening to headphones on the subway or rocking out on your daily commute through traffic, but keep music at a reasonable level and you’re much less likely to experience early signs of hearing loss.