On average, Australians gain 0.8-1.5kg over Christmas, and researchers have discovered that weight gained over the holiday period is rarely lost. Scary, isn’t it!
So what’s the link between weight gain, heart health, and hearing?
Research shows our heart and blood vessels carry approximately 7200 litres of nutrient-rich blood around our body daily, including to the delicate hair cells in the cochlea which play an important role in translating the noise your ears collect into electrical impulses for your brain to interpret.
Poor circulation robs these hair cells of adequate oxygen, causing damage or destruction. Because these hair cells do not regenerate, it results in permanent hearing loss. Weight gain puts you at risk of heart disease and over 60 years of research shows that good blood circulation plays a role in maintaining good hearing health. On the other hand, inadequate blood flow and trauma to the blood vessels of the inner ear can contribute to hearing loss.
Here’s where being overweight comes into play: additional fat tissue in the body needs oxygen and nutrients in order to live, which requires the blood vessels to circulate more blood to the fat tissue. This increases the workload of the heart because it must pump more blood through additional blood vessels. More circulating blood also means more pressure on the artery walls. Higher pressure on the artery walls increases the blood pressure. In addition, extra weight can raise the heart rate and reduce the body’s ability to transport blood through the vessels.
Experts say that regular exercise and a balanced diet plays a key role in keeping the heart and circulation strong and healthy.
Here’s how to lose weight healthily
According to the Australian Department of Health, the key to healthy weight loss is to focus on a healthy lifestyle with plenty of regular exercise and a balanced diet with foods mainly from these 5 healthy food groups:
- different coloured vegetables
- whole grains
- lean meats and poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, nuts and seeds, and legumes/beans
- milk, yoghurt and cheese, mostly reduced fat.
You should also drink plenty of water, and limit your intake of foods that contain saturated fat, added sugars, added salt and alcohol.
Tips for losing weight
The Dietitians Association of Australia suggests:
- swap foods high in fat, sugar, and salt with foods from one of the 5 healthy food groups
- cut down on takeaways – eat leftovers from last night’s meal instead
- eat regularly and plan ahead with healthy snacks
- choose smaller portions
- eat breakfast
- enjoy a wide variety of foods
- exercise for 30-60 minutes every day
- eat plenty of fibre to fill you up
- eat more vegetables
Hearing health/ heart health research:
- In a study published in the June 2010 issue of the American Journal of Audiology, authors Raymond H. Hull and Stacy R. Kerschen reviewed research conducted over the past 60 years on cardiovascular health and its influence on hearing health. Their findings confirm that impaired cardiovascular health negatively affects both the peripheral and central auditory system, especially in older adults.
Weight gain statistic sources:
- Foodsense. Consumer Reports on Health: Dodge holiday weight gain without missing the merriment. Dec 2002: http://www.nutritionaustralia.org/national/resource/tips-beat-christmas-bulge
- Hull H et al. The effect of the holiday season on body weight and composition in college students. Nutr Metab. 2006;3(44)