Reversing Five Years of Tinnitus with Silence and Good Food

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I’d gotten ringing in the ears after concerts before – it would last a day and disappear. This time was different. I was at a concert at the House of Blues, and it was sheer torture.

Through the magic of the internet, I’d hooked up with a group of music-loving women my age. The self-appointed leader of the group loved to stand by the front of the stage at every concert, a half-inch from the stage monitors. Everyone else followed suit.

We weren’t kids; we were women in our mid-40s. I never thought much about the damage such close proximity could do to my hearing. I wore cotton balls or cheap earplugs from the Rite-Aid half the time. The other half I didn’t wear any ear protection.

After all, I wasn’t a musician playing onstage every night. The front row concert jaunts took place an average of once a month. How much damage could they do?

After the headlining band had been onstage for about 20 minutes, I slunk out of the show, partly because my ears hurt, partly due to other annoyances.  If you’ve ever been to a general admission rock concert, you know the wackos duke it out with the loyal fans in the first few rows by the stage. Most of the time, the wackos win – the drunks, the obnoxious brawlers, the idiots slinging past you to go to the concession stand or bathroom five times during the show. I don’t quite remember which tactic drove me away, but I retreated to the bar, the back of the house and finally to a cab home.

When I got ready for bed, that’s when I noticed it. The half ringing, half washing machine agitator whooshing in my ears. I assumed it was temporary tinnitus caused by being too close to the stage, and it would fade in a few days. (Later, I found out the whooshing was pulsatile tinnitus, which can be related to hypertension and blood flow problems.)

It lasted five years.

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When I stopped going to concerts and clubs (a few years later!), the ringing and whooshing disappeared after about a year of diminishing in-ear noise. Occasionally, it would boot up at night, but it was nowhere near as irritating as it had been when I went to shows every week. During this time, I stopped drinking alcohol and eating fatty and junk food. Abstinence from noise and eating better did the trick. My ear was healed.

 

What Causes Tinnitus?

Tinnitus is a ringing, buzzing or whooshing sound in one or both ears. Over 50 million Americans suffer from some form of tinnitus. It has several causes, including:

Age
Noise
TMJ
Medical Conditions
Sinus Pressure
Blockages
Head, Neck or Dental Issues
Medications

 Tinnitus can be temporary or chronic. Patients may suffer from two different types of tinnitus, like I did. This doesn’t necessarily mean the tinnitus is more severe than a single-diagnosis tinnitus.

 

What You Can Do to Reduce or Get Rid of Tinnitus

 See your doctor and follow his or her guidelines. It’s important to determine what caused the tinnitus (repeated exposure to loud music or machinery? High blood pressure?) and treat or eliminate that.

The food you eat affects your mental and physical health, including whether or not you develop tinnitus. A healthy diet may not guarantee you’ll avoid tinnitus, but it will increase your chances of retaining good hearing.

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Tinnitus-Causing Foods

All of the these ingredients are found in fast food and junk food, so avoiding McDonald’s, the $1 Chinese Food Buffet and KFC will help you avoid tinnitus or accelerate healing it.

 

Caffeine

 Caffeine is a neural exciter. It wakes you up and gives you energy, but drinking too much coffee boosts your blood pressure and reduces blood flow. Don’t overindulge in Starbucks or energy drinks. Try drinking green tea or herbal tea occasionally to cut down on caffeine intake.

Sugar

 Too much sugar causes dental problems and harms gums, leading to high blood pressure and heart disease.

Salt
Trans fats

 Excess salt and trans fat are other causes of hypertension and heart problems. Hypertension and heart problems affect blood flow and tinnitus may be one of the symptoms.

 MSG

 MSG exacerbates neurotransmitter activity, making you perceive the tinnitus as getting louder. Check any processed or packaged food you buy for MSG on the ingredient label, since this preservative is used in many snack foods and frozen foods.

 Aspartame and Artificial Sweeteners

If you have tinnitus and drink lots of diet soda (or put artificial sweeteners in your coffee or tea), stop drinking the soda and using the sweeteners for a few weeks, and see if your tinnitus improves.  Aspartame works on excitatory neurotransmitters in the brain, damaging the nervous system and causing tinnitus. Use honey to sweeten tea instead of artificial sweeteners or sugar, and get your sweets fix from fresh fruits.

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Healthy Foods to Reduce Tinnitus

Eating a healthy diet won’t cure tinnitus, but it will reduce the underlying symptoms causing it. Replace processed foods with organically grown fruits and vegetables, and use plenty of anti-inflammatory spices and herbs to flavor food. Anti-inflammatory spices help fight cell-damaging free radicals and keep the blood in vessels near your ear flowing smoothly, reducing the chance of tinnitus.

 

Choose from the following foods and spices to improve overall health and avoid tinnitus:

Garlic, Turmeric and Other Spices Containing Antioxidants
Vitamin C Rich Fruits Including Strawberries, Blueberries, Lemons/Limes and Apples
Sunflower Seeds, Salmon and Other Foods Rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Foods with Vitamin B12 – Pork, Cheese, Eggs, Shellfish, Red Meat, Tuna, Salmon and Fortified Cereals

 Vitamin B12 may be the most important of the anti-tinnitus foods, as this vitamin has been found to protect the myelin sheath around auditory cells in a UK study. 

 The best way to keep your hearing ring free and whoosh-free? Minimize your time around loud noise, keep tabs on your blood pressure, wear ear protection and eat a healthy diet containing plenty of Vitamin B12, Omega 3s and antioxidants.

American Tinnitus Association

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Don’t Count Calories – Use a Master Grocery List Instead

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If trying to lose weight the conventional way hasn’t worked for you, stop counting calories and put your calculator away. Create a healthy master grocery list instead. Using a master grocery list makes shopping easier – and more fun. You don’t have to write a new grocery list every week unless you want to do it. Pick and choose the foods you want for the week from an abundance of healthy choices.

 

Even after you’ve kept the weight off, choose foods from your master list and even throw in a treat once in awhile. How often is up to you- but it’s better to keep sugary treats and processed foods out permanently or eat them once a month or a few times a year. That’s what I do. I’ll have ice cream once a month, and an occasional Dunkin’ Donut or pastry.

I have memories of visiting Albertson’s Bakery, buying and eating a pack of cherry turnovers in one day. It added a tummy bulge and ruined my teeth. If I ate one turnover a month, I wouldn’t have had those repercussions.

Sweets aren’t the only foods you should have once in awhile. You might love getting salads and meats from the deli, but even though they’re freshly made and not packaged, they may still contain too much sugar, salt and other forbidden ingredients and be packed with empty calories. You can eat anything you want as a treat now and then, unless you have a medical condition or prefer to stay a 100% clean eater at all times.

 

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Cocoa and Dark Chocolate

Here’s some good news. You can eat healthy without giving up chocolate. Now the bad news – you’ll still need to give up milk chocolate and other high-sugar, processed confections. Snack on dark chocolate with at least 70% cacao. We’re talking about those fancy chocolate bars for sale at the checkout of Trader Joe’s and other good-for-you grocery stores.

Replace artificial, microwavable drinks like Instant Hot Chocolate Mix with Hershey’s 100% cacao powder instead. It’s all natural, has no sugar or preservatives, and boasts plenty of polyphenol antioxidants.  Natural cocoa is an excellent source of:

 

  • Magnesium
  • Zinc
  • Iron
  • Potassium
  • Calcium
  • Protein
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5 and B9

If you’re used to milk chocolate, unsweetened cocoa will taste bitter the first time you drink it, but it won’t take long to get used to it.

 Vegetables

If you tend to put fresh veggies in the fridge and forget about them, frozen or canned vegetables keep longer and are still good for you. (Just check ingredients before buying.) Frozen vegetables are better than canned when it comes to additives. Fresh vegetables are the healthiest choice, but if they’re too expensive for you or they go bad before you have time to eat them, frozen and canned vegetables are better than no veggies.

Good veggies include:

  • Cauliflower
  • Spinach
  • Corn
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Onions
  • Green Peppers
  • Asparagus
  • Lettuce
  • White Potatoes
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Kale
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Garlic

 

Vary your side dishes and salads by sampling exotic veggies. Oriental eggplant, tomatillo, baby pak choy, Spanish poblanos (peppers) and aji dulce are a few of the in-demand ethic vegetables you can find today. Include more yams and sweet potatoes in your diet – they contain lots of Vitamin A, biotin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, potassium and Vitamin B5!

 

 

 

 

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Fruits

 Choose from the usual suspects (and there are a lot more of them than you realize).

 

  • Strawberries
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Pears
  • Apples
  • Oranges
  • Lemons and Limes
  • Grapes
  • Melons
  • Blackberries

 

You can also look into a wide selection of out of the ordinary fruits and vegetables to keep things interesting. Try mangos, papaya, tangerines, persimmons, avocados, plantains, lemongrass, guava and yucca. If you live in New York, Los Angeles or another large city, you’ll have no problem finding these and many other unusual goodies. You can even buy them online through Amazon.com.

 Grains and Breads

 

For grains and breads, there’s a whole world out there once you move past Wonder Bread. Choose from whole wheat and multigrain bread, quinoa, buckwheat, barley, steel cut oats, groat, brown rice, millet, teff and bulgur. Check health food stores and online retailers for groat, teff and other lesser-publicized grains, and brush up on your baking skills.

Make more sandwiches with sourdough bead. It’s a probiotic food containing beneficial live bacteria. Other probiotics include yogurt, sauerkraut, miso soup, sour pickles and kefir.  Probiotics aid your digestion, and studies have shown they have natural anti-depressant qualities.

 

Dairy

Buy organic unsalted butter, lowfat milk, organic eggs, plain, unflavored yogurt (add your own fruit), and real cheese (not the packaged, sliced kind). If you’re lactose-intolerant or have other issues drinking cow’s milk, try almond, coconut, soy or rice milk. Coconut milk is the closest to cow’s milk in texture and fat content.

Spices

 Get rid of all the salt and sugar in your kitchen, except for a small amount you may need for recipes. It will be easy to develop a taste for these vitamin and antioxidant-packed alternatives –

 

  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Black Pepper
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Paprika
  • Mint
  • Parsley
  • Pure Vanilla
  • Cinnamon
  • Honey
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Apple Cider Vinegar

 

Nuts

Add nuts to plain yogurt, main dishes and salad for more crunch and more nutrients. Nuts are high in fiber, Vitamin E, polyphenol antioxidants and magnesium.

Stock up on unsalted peanuts, pecans, pistachio nuts, Macadamia nuts, walnuts, Brazil nuts, almonds and cashews.

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Seeds

Keep pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, flaxseeds and chia seeds on hand to add to salads, main dishes and desserts. Bring some with you to work to snack on instead of candy and chips.

Beans

Save money and get more protein by buying beans, in bulk or canned.  There are dozens of beans you can buy to fix burritos, tacos, soups, side dishes and main dishes. They include:

 

  • Kidney Beans
  • Soybeans
  • Lentils
  • Split Peas
  • White Beans
  • Lima Beans
  • Black-eyed Peas
  • Pinto Beans
  • Black Beans
  • Yellow Beans

 

Baked beans and peanut butter aren’t as protein-packed as the beans listed above, but they’re healthier than lots of other foods. Always keep a jar of organic, non-GMO peanut butter in your cabinet to make sandwiches or spread on bagels or crackers. Read more about the health benefits of beans at The Bean Institute. 

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Lean Meat, Poultry and Fish

Choose organic meats and buy fresh from the butcher when possible. Avoid cheap “priced to sell” packaged meats, hot dogs (unless they’re turkey or chicken franks) and cured luncheon meats like pimento loaf. (Although you probably avoid pimento loaf already.)

 

  • Lean red meat with little marbling
  • Wild caught salmon
  • Skinless turkey and chicken breast
  • Sardines
  • Mackerel
  • Fresh or water-packed tuna
  • Pork chops (plenty of Vitamin B12)

 

 

Condiments

Instead of mayonnaise or butter, add one or more of the following to dishes, salads or sandwiches. Use extra virgin olive oil when cooking.

  • Salsa
  • Olive Oil
  • Cholula Hot Sauce – Made with arbol and piquin peppers and spices
  • Sriracha Chili Sauce – Made with red chili and garlic
  • Hummus – a traditional Middle Eastern paste made of ground chickpeas, sesame seeds, olive oil, lemon, and garlic
  • Pesto – an Italian topping made of crushed garlic, pine nuts, coarse salt, basil leaves, Parmesan cheese and sheep’s milk cheese , blended with olive oil.

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Beverages

 Replace soda (diet and regular) with healthier choices, including that zero-calorie, hydrating stand-by, water.  Use a pitcher with a filter to store cleaned-up tap water at home, and pour the water into reusable plastic bottles. You don’t need to waste money buying bottled water at the store several times a day.

If you like coffee, you can still drink a few cups a day. Cut down on sugar and elaborate coffee drinks from Starbucks and other chains for a healthier java fix. Coffee, when consumed in moderation, protects against liver disease and reduces the risk of diabetes and Parkinson’s disease.

Choose from the following beverages to increase Vitamin C, antioxidants and other nutrients in your diet while quenching your thirst.

 

  • Green Tea
  • Black Tea
  • Herbal Tea
  • Fruit Juice
  • Smoothies
  • Vegetable Juice
  • Kombucha

 

How to Cook

Steam, boil, broil, sauté, stir-fry, roast, pressure cook or microwave meat and produce – or put them in a crockpot. Most cooking methods are fine except for regular frying.

Fried foods clog arteries and increase your risk of heart disease. They inflame joints, leading to arthritis. Regular consumption of fried foods causes weight gain that contributes to diabetes and high blood pressure. Instead of high-calorie, artery-clogging fried chicken, eat roast chicken with garlic sauce.

About 95 percent of your diet should consist of whole, fresh foods, the kind your grandparents and great-grandparents ate. You don’t need to be a vegan or vegetarian to be healthy, but if that’s what you prefer, you’ll need to take supplements to make up for lack of Vitamin B12, which is only available naturally through animal products.

A note – Not all packaged foods are bad. Read ingredient lists on boxes, bags and cartons. Choose products made with natural, non-GMO ingredients.

 

Stay Active to Make the Most of Clean Eating

You’ll achieve better results from eating healthy if you have an active lifestyle and try to reduce (or at least control) daily stress. Exercise, positive thinking, meditation, fresh air and sunshine are necessary to keep your energy flowing. You don’t need to run a marathon or even go to the gym everyday to fulfill your activity quota. Walk more, do yoga, do stretches at your desk during break and take the stairs instead of the elevator. Stay active consistently and it will add up

Kids in the 1960s-1980s were a lot skinnier than kids today, even though they ate McDonald’s and junk food. Why was that? They played outside after school, ate home cooked dinners at night, and spent Sundays at Grandma’s for an even bigger, home-cooked meal, featuring lots of food, but no additives or preservatives. They brought packed lunches to school and drank milk or juice with it, not soda. There wasn’t time to eat too much junk food. Mom and Grandma had other plans.

Avoid the temptation to get back into old eating habits by keeping only whole, fresh foods in your kitchen.  This makes it harder to go back to old eating habits and overindulge in processed or sugary foods. When you do eat processed or sugary foods again, you’ll really taste the difference and won’t eat as much. Eating clean foods makes you feel (and look) better.

What are some foods on your master grocery list? Let us know in the comments.

 

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An Accidental Natural Treatment for High Blood Pressure – Garlic and Cayenne Pepper Mashed Potatoes

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Garlic mashed potatoes are a popular side dish, and if you make a pot at home you’ll be a lot better off than ordering at restaurants where you never know what questionable ingredients are mixed in with the good ones. Garlic is good for your blood pressure and heart health, so it’s possible to overlook its pungent aroma. But there’s a type of mashed potato even better for your blood pressure than garlic mashed potatoes – and spicier too.

Garlic and cayenne pepper mashed potatoes.

I sampled this by accident one night when my boyfriend decided to add random spices to the mashed potatoes. We had a baggie of powdered cayenne pepper from Albertson’s and a few cloves of garlic on hand. All (or most) of these items were added to a big pot of mashed potatoes.

The potatoes tasted so good we scarfed them up. I wanted to finish the entire plate, but I was 3/4th of the way through when I started sweating from the overabundance of garlic and cayenne pepper. If I’d had high blood pressure before dinner, I certainly didn’t have it now! And I felt happy-woozy, almost high. So did my boyfriend. I’m not kidding! The “hangover” lasted til the next morning for both of us. The takeaway from this experience? Garlic, cayenne pepper and other healthy spices really work and should be handled with care. (After doing some research, I found many supplement manufacturers sell garlic and cayenne pepper capsules.)

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 This wooziness was a result of too much of a good thing. Don’t try this at home – just add a small amount of cayenne pepper or garlic to food if you’re improvising, and follow recipes exactly. WARNING: Garlic and cayenne pepper are blood thinners and may make blood-thinning medications and aspirin stronger, increasing the risk of bleeding.

 There are a few formal recipes for foods containing cayenne pepper and garlic. Try Spicy Garlic Shrimp to pique your appetite.

Facts about Garlic

Creating bad breath and contraindications re blood thinning medications aside, there’s a lot to love about this vegetable. Yes, garlic is  officially classified as a vegetable belonging to the onion family. Most people think of it as a spice or flavoring because it’s not eaten alone. Garlic (Allium sativum) is packed with nutrients despite its small size. An ounce of fresh garlic contains manganese, Vitamin B6, Vitamin C, fiber and selenium. The most important nutrient, allicin, is a strong natural regulator of blood pressure.

Fresh garlic delivers more benefits than garlic supplements, so stick to the real thing. If you must take a supplement, read reviews from other users to ensure you buy a product made with real garlic.

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Garlic Health Benefits

 Garlic is an everyday ingredient in Italian, Chinese, Indian and Thai cooking. It enhances the flavor of risotto, chicken marsala, Chinese-style barbecued spareribs and other dishes. It tastes great, and can be used as a home remedy for everything from colds and allergies to arthritis.

 

  • Got a stuffy nose or chest congestion? Sip on some garlic-chicken broth to dissolve the phlegm in days instead of weeks.  Better yet, eat garlic-infused foods regularly to stave off colds and flus.

 

  • Allicin, allyl cysteine, allyl disulfide and alliin, the potent antioxidants in garlic, may protect against Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. By destroying free radicals and keeping oxidative stress at a minimum, garlic keeps cognitive function  sharp as you age.

 

  • The antioxidants in garlic reduce symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and promote bone health. A substance in garlic called diallyl disulfide protects cartilage from damage, and helps joints to move better.

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Cayenne Pepper Health Benefits

Cayenne pepper lowers blood pressure, bad LDL cholesterol and triglycerides. Add a dash to scrambled eggs, salads, soups and main dishes to spice things up while keeping your cardiovascular system running efficiently. Trendy culinary ideas include Chicken Tortilla Soup.

Like garlic, cayenne pepper offers over a dozen other health benefits to keep you strong and inflammation-free the natural way.

 

  • Cayenne pepper breaks up congestion in the nose, throat and chest, putting an end to pesky colds sooner. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper to hot lemon tea and drink liberally. Prescription allergy medicine and over the counter decongestants dry you out and make you feel woozy; cayenne pepper gets rid of mucus without the side effects of Benadryl and other medications.

 

  • If you suffer from migraines, capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper, has been found to exhaust the pain-signaling neurotransmitter Substance P.  Add cayenne pepper powder (or chopped up cayenne peppers) to meals and shakes to prevent migraines or lessen the pain if you already have a headache.

 

  • Cayenne pepper revs up your metabolism and burns fat. If you’re looking for a safe, natural appetite suppressant, use more cayenne pepper in food or add it to your morning smoothie.

 

garlic-1808_640Adding garlic and cayenne pepper to your diet (together or separately) aids your day-to-day health and their anti-inflammatory properties reduce your chances of developing cancer. If you are on any medication (even over-the-counter medicine), check with your doctor before making cayenne pepper or garlic a regular part of your diet.

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