Last month, while I was proofreading the latest issue of Insiders’ Cures, I was reminded of the old joke about a man who goes to the doctor’s office and asks why his arms are getting shorter.
Of course, the man’s arms hadn’t shrunk. He just had to hold his newspaper farther away to read it.
As we age, we’re at risk for diminished vision—and hearing, smell, touch, and taste. This sensory loss can have a great deal to do with how we perceive our environment and surroundings.
Plus, scientists are increasingly learning that our senses have important influences on the brain and nervous system.
In fact, some studies show that sensory losses increase the risk of cognitive decline, associated with reduced mental stimulation. And there’s research underway to evaluate how sensory perception can influence mental conditions like ADHD (attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder), dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
Which means it’s absolutely vital to preserve our senses as we get older. Sadly, there’s not much research on how to combat diminishing smell, touch, and taste.
But there’s plenty of evidence showing that simple lifestyle changes can improve our vision and hearing no matter what our age.
Here are my top four tips to help ensure you continue enjoying the sights and sounds around you…
1.) Eat a Mediterranean diet
I’m a big fan of an authentic, balanced, healthy Mediterranean-style diet—as it can slash your risk of virtually every chronic disease. This diet is rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, wild-caught fish and seafood, full-fat dairy (like butter, eggs, cheeses, and yogurt), free-range, grass-fed and –finished meats, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.
And now, new research shows it can also protect you from substantial hearing loss.1
Researchers analyzed data from the huge Nurses’ Health Study II Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS) during a three-year period. The median age of the women who participated in the study was 59.
Among the women who ate a Mediterranean or other type of healthy diet, researchers found:
- Mid-range hearing loss was almost 30 percent less frequent compared with women who ate less-healthy diets
- High-frequency hearing loss was up to 25 percent less prevalent
The researchers also noted that prior studies found higher intake of the following nutrients was particularly beneficial for hearing:
- Carotenoids, found in carrots, squash, citrus, and other yellow-orange fruits and vegetables
- Folate (B vitamin), found in leafy green vegetables, legumes, and meats
- Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and other seafood
Of course, all of these nutrients are a part of the Mediterranean diet. But if you’re concerned about your hearing, it certainly can’t hurt to increase your consumption of these foods.
2.) Indulge in these vision-friendly foods
The Mediterranean diet also contains plenty of foods that are good for your vision. But research shows the following three foods are particularly important for preserving your eyesight:
- Blueberries have been shown in many studies to help improve eyesight—particularly a disorder called tension glaucoma, which affects the optic nerve.
- Dark chocolate (at least 75 to 80 percent cacao) may help improve vision in people with glaucoma, as well as reduce the risk of macular degeneration. Plus, a 2018 study of 30 adults found that eating a bar of dark chocolate significantly improved eyesight just two hours after consumption.2
- Fatty fish like salmon and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids, which have been linked to lower risk of macular degeneration and dry eye.
3.) Ditch the pain pills
Of course, we all know how dangerous opiates are for our health. And I’ve told you about studies linking acetaminophen (also known in Europe as paracetmol, and by the brand name Tylenol®) to heart, liver, and kidney damage.3 All of these toxicities could add up to dramatically increased risks of deaths.
But research shows these pain relievers pose yet another hazard to your health, by increasing your risk of hearing loss.
A 2017 study shows that even supposedly innocuous over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen and aspirin can affect hearing, too.4
The study involved data from nearly 56,000 women, ages 44 to 69, who were participating in the Nurses’ Health Study. Researchers found that women who took ibuprofen twice daily for at least six years were 10 percent more likely to have hearing loss than women who took the same amount of ibuprofen for one year or less. And women who took Tylenol® had a 9 percent decrease in hearing.
Overall, researchers determined that 16 percent of the study participants’ hearing loss could be attributed to regular painkiller usage.
Not to mention, the researchers also noted that these results are similar to a study they did in men—which linked Tylenol®, ibuprofen, and aspirin to hearing loss.
All in all, researchers think painkillers can affect hearing by interfering with blood supply to the inner ear and damaging the tiny hairs that protect the inner ear.
And that makes sense to me. But what really struck me about this study is the high usage of painkillers in some of the participants. Twice a day for at least six years? No wonder those poor women had hearing loss. I’m actually surprised it was only 16 percent…
Imagine how much you could preserve your hearing if you rarely—or never—took painkillers. (You can find out how to manage your pain naturally, safely, and effectively with my special report, The Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Pill-Free Pain Cures. You can learn more by clicking here or calling 1-866-747-9421 and asking for order code EOV2W200.)
4.) Get moving
Now, I mentioned earlier that researchers are analyzing how hearing, vision, and other sensory loss affects cognitive decline and other disorders of the brain. But I haven’t yet mentioned that these studies are typically done while participants are sitting or lying down (for example, while performing brain imaging using MRI).
And that’s important, because the way the brain processes sensory input differs depending upon whether your head and body are unnaturally still, or whether you are walking around.
When your body is on the move, your brain’s processing of peripheral vision (to either side) is enhanced compared to what you’re seeing in the central part of your visual field.
This makes sense because when our ancestors were moving around in nature, finding food and escaping danger, they relied on seeing what was on either side of them (since we don’t actually have “eyes in the back of our heads”).
In animal studies, more body movement leads to more sensory input into the visual areas of the brain. So it may very well be that, in humans, movement is associated with better sensory output like vision and hearing.
Plus, as I often report, moderate daily exercise is vital for your health. (I always recommend 20 minutes of moderate physical activity like walking, hiking, gardening, or simple housework, or a total of 150 minutes per week.) So getting out and enjoying the sights and sounds in Nature, especially, may very well help preserve your hearing and vision—naturally, for years to come.
For more information on how to keep your vision and hearing sharp well into your golden years, check out my Insider’s Ultimate Guide to Outsmarting “Old Age.” This comprehensive online learning protocol offers dozens of simple, common-sense strategies for staying vibrant, youthful, and HEALTHY well into your 70s, 80s—and beyond. You can learn more about it or enroll today by clicking here or calling 1-866-747-9421 and asking for code EOV3W201.
My top 10 foods for vision and hearing
- Citrus fruit
- Dark chocolate
- Leafy green vegetables
1“Prospective Study of Dietary Patterns and Hearing Threshold Decline.” Am J Epidemiol. 2019 Oct 14. pii: kwz223.
2“Effects of Milk vs Dark Chocolate Consumption on Visual Acuity and Contrast Sensitivity Within 2 Hours: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” JAMA Ophthalmol. 2018;136(6):678–681.
3“Paracetamol: not as safe as we thought? A systematic literature review of observational studies.” Ann Rheum Dis. 2016 Mar;75(3):552-9.
4“Duration of Analgesic Use and Risk of Hearing Loss in Women.” American Journal of Epidemiology, Volume 185, Issue 1, 1 January 2017, Pages 40–47.