Years ago, folks used to say “you are what you eat”. Then it became “you are what you eat that you don’t excrete” meaning you are the nutrients that your body hangs on to and uses. These days, it’s just as important to think about what you AREN’T putting in your body as much as it is what you ARE putting in your body. With supermarket shelves filled with pre-packaged convenience foods and every other street corner housing a fast food restaurant (not to mention the ‘food’ sold at family restaurants, convenience stores, and gas stations), it’s no wonder that people are deficient in critical nutrients not just for hearing health but for overall health and well-being. Let’s not even talk about industrial food production methods.
There ARE things you can do to increase your nutrient intake that will benefit not only your hearing health but promote better overall health in body and mind. Make sure you are getting these nutrients in your diet in a healthy way. For example, if you add blueberries (which are high in antioxidants that fight free radicals) to your brownies you are defeating the purpose since the brownies are probably made with a lot of flour (which contains phytates that inhibit zinc absorption) and sugar (that causes a myriad of issues inside the body) neither of which contributes to your health in a positive way. At this point, the benefits of the blueberries is lost.
Since nutrition is such a large topic, we’ll tackle a little bit at a time. Today, let’s focus on zinc. In addition to being an important mineral for the immune and central nervous systems, studies have shown zinc deficiency can greatly increase your risk of suffering from sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). Research indicates zinc has immune-boosting properties, which can help reduce stress on the cochlea in SSNHL. The highest levels of zinc are found in seafood* (oysters, crab, lobster), and meat* (beef, pork & chicken). Zinc is also found in plant foods such as nuts (cashews, almonds), legumes (chick peas, lentils), and vegetables (peas, broccoli) but in very small quantities. Making nuts and legumes bio-available is a topic for another day.
All About Zinc
Zinc (Zn) is a transition metal belonging to group 12 of the periodic table. As an “essential trace element” zinc has substantial biological importance for plants and animals.
Zinc is responsible for many functions in the human body and it helps to stimulate the activity of 100 different enzymes.
Only a very small intake of Zinc is necessary to reap the benefits. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for zinc in the US is: 8/mg for women and 11/mg for men. This means a woman would need to eat either 3 ounces of beef or almost 2 cups of almonds to get your RDA (personally, even though I love almonds, I’d choose the beef over than many almonds).
Read more about zinc here http://tinyurl.com/eatzinc
Try this recipe for oysters with walnuts:
*Remember, if you are going to eat seafood or meat choose a) wild-caught sea food and b) high-welfare meat from smaller ranches with a reverence for the lives of the animals they raise. Feed lot animals are bad news no matter how you look at it.
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