Another Valentine's Day is behind us, and odds are you're one of the millions of people who consumed either chocolate or red wine for the occasion. If so, did you ever stop to think about how either of those V-Day favorites could impact your sense of hearing? Probably not. But as strange as it may seem, these February staples can have a significant impact on your hearing ability, and if you consume too much of one of them, it could increase the odds that you suffer from hearing loss.
The Benefits of Dark Chocolate
First, the good news. Eating chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, can actually be good for your health, especially as it relates to hearing. Even though you may think there's nothing beneficial about chocolate, the dark variety actually contains high levels of zinc, which can improve your immune system and reduce the likelihood of an infection hitting your inner ear. In fact, eating high quantities of zinc has even helped to improve the hearing ability of people who have suffered from sensorineural hearing loss. So rather than feeling guilty about indulging your sweet tooth, you can almost look at dark chocolate as health food...almost.
The Ups and Downs of Red Wine
You may have heard that doctors recommend drinking one glass of red wine a day to improve heart function, and this is true. Red grapes, from which red wine is made, are infused with a substance called resveratrol, which is highly effective at reducing cholesterol and fighting against inflammation. So in small quantities, red wine can do your body (and your ears) some good. On the downside, however, the alcohol in wine can actually cause damage to the hearing centers in the brain. Some studies have even found that drinking too much can weaken the central auditory brainstem, hampering auditory signals that the brain receives from the ear.
Ultimately, both dark chocolate and red wine can have a dramatic impact on the body's circulatory system. In general, eating some chocolate and drinking a sensible amount of red wine can improve blood flow, which will help to keep your auditory system functioning properly. If you don't have proper circulation, perhaps due to inflammation, then the delicate parts of your auditory system can pay the price. Without proper blood flow, the tiny, hair-like cells in your ears that take in auditory information can weaken and die. And once they're gone, your ability to hear will be diminished.
So in general, it's a good idea to stick to a healthy diet that will keep your circulation functioning normally. If you're going to indulge in wine and chocolates for special occasions, such as Valentine's Day, make sure that you do so in moderation.
If you or someone you know would like to learn more about hearing loss, please feel free to schedule a consultation or contact one of our representatives today!