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Your Bones, Nose, And Ears: The Unlikely Connection

bones-nose-ears

If you think of one of the five senses that affects your bones, you would probably choose sight. After all, sight alerts you to dangerous objects you might trip over, and as many Savers know, sight helps you keep your balance.

But what if I told you that your senses of hearing and smell have a significant effect on your bone health?

They do, and today you’ll discover how they impact your bones. Plus you’ll get easy tips to prevent falls and improve your bone-building efforts.

Studies Show Hearing Loss Increases Falls

It may sound strange to think that hearing loss can affect your ability to avoid falls. But more than one study has pointed to this very thing.

According to research spearheaded at Johns Hopkins University, hearing loss is a significant factor in the incidence of falls that result in fracture. When researchers examined the results of a 3-year National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they found that:

People with a 25-decibel hearing loss, classified as mild, were nearly three times more likely to have a history of falling. Every additional 10-decibels of hearing loss increased the chances of falling by 1.4 fold.”1

This isn’t the only body of data that indicates the connection between hearing loss and falling. An intriguing Finnish study on twins showed a clear association between hearing ability and balance, and genetic traits were not a factor. “People with poor hearing acuity have a higher risk for falls,”2 the study concludes.

How Does Hearing Loss Affect Falling?

The research shows that hearing loss increases the risk of falling. But in what way?

The head researcher of the Johns Hopkins study, Frank Lin, MD, PhD suggests that people with poor hearing are less aware of their overall environment and thus are more likely to trip and fall. Lin also suggests cognitive load as a major factor.

Cognitive load refers to the amount of information your brain processes and the effort put forth to function cognitively. If cognitive load is too high because you’re constantly straining to hear and thus feeling exhausted, your brain may be overwhelmed. At that point, you can’t give proper attention to balance and walking.

You may think you don’t give much attention to those things anyway, but balance and walking are actually pretty demanding of your brain “behind the scenes.” If much of your brain is preoccupied with trying to compensate for poor hearing, there just aren’t enough resources available to devote to moving and balance.

Do You Need A Professional Hearing Assessment?

It may be that your hearing isn’t up to par and you don’t even know it. Take a look at the items on this list – do any of them describe you?

  • Do you have a hard time hearing people when you talk on the phone?
  • If there is background noise, such as at a party or in a restaurant, do you have trouble hearing conversations?
  • Do others get frustrated with you for asking them to repeat themselves?
  • Have you been accused of mumbling?
  • Do those with higher voices, particularly women and children, present a challenge to your hearing?
  • Are group conversations difficult?

If you answered yes to more than 2 of these, you might want to take steps to improve your hearing, such as getting checked out by a professional audiologist who can help you find solutions.

Making “Scents” Of Your Bone Health: Your Sense of Smell

Your hearing isn’t the only sense that affects your bone health. Believe it or not, your sense of smell can actually influence your bone density.

In a fascinating French study, participants were divided into two groups. Before being served a meal, one group spent time in a room that had been sprayed with the scent of fresh pears. The other group waited in a room with no particular scent. Then both groups were given access to a three-course buffet of various foods.

For the first two courses, the groups didn’t differ much in their food choices. But for the dessert course, a notable difference emerged. Among the group that had been exposed to the smell of fresh pears, three-fourth of them chose a fruit-based dessert; the other 25% chose a chocolate brownie.3

Less than 50% of the participants who had not been exposed to the pear scent chose the brownie.

In other words, smelling fresh pears influenced the participants to choose a healthier option. And when it comes to saving your bones, choosing healthy foods is absolutely essential to building and maintaining bone health.

How You Can Use Your Sense Of Smell To Make Bone-Healthy Food Choices

This information is interesting, but what does it mean in a practical way? The fact is, you can use this information to prime yourself for food choice success. Here’s how.

Fill Your Home With Delicious, Natural Scents

While the study does not clarify whether the pear scent used in the research was synthetic or natural, the truth is, synthetic air fresheners contain toxic ingredients that harm your bones. Using artificial air fresheners would undermine what you’re trying to do, which is build your bone health by influencing proper food choices.

So instead, go for natural home fragrances. You can make your own using essential oils and a diffuser. The study suggests that fruity scents are the most effective.

Apply A Natural Fragrance To Your Skin

The same cautions about synthetic fragrances apply to personal scents. Natural fragrances are healthy options for smelling great and priming yourself to choose healthier foods. You can easily make your own bone-healthy scent using fruity essential oils and a carrier. Make sure you wear it before going out to eat!

Cook With Fragrant Herbs And Spices

What better way to prepare for making healthy food choices than cooking with good-smelling herbs and spices? Ginger, apples, cloves, and cinnamon are excellent scents for priming your sense of smell.

The Save Our Bones cookbook, Bone Appétit, can provide lots of ideas for cooking fragrant dishes that will fill your plate and your home with lovely bone-healthy smells. And it’s easy to make bone-healthy food choices with all the nutritious variety you’ll find in Bone Appétit.

How To Enhance Your Sense Of Smell

To get the full bone-healthy benefits of natural smells, it helps for your olfactory powers to be as keen as possible. Believe it or not, there are actually things you can do to enhance your sense of smell.

Over time, your sense of smell decreases; only strong, harsh scents come through and subtle ones are lost. To reawaken flagging cell receptors, try choosing several scents that are mild and pleasant to you. Maybe you like the scent of berries, bananas, or roses. Four to six times a day, sniff these pleasant scents and your sense of smell will respond with greater sensitivity. You’ll want to avoid harsh fragrances like garlic, vinegar, and so forth, as these can have the opposite effect.

The effect of hearing and smell on bone health just goes to show that no body system works in isolation. Our bodies are interconnected, and what we do to treat one area of the body, so long as it doesn’t involve toxic prescription drugs, will typically have a positive effect on another part of the body. The Save Our Bones Program is based in part on this principle, which is why it does more than improve the health of your bones. It can also improve your life.

Here’s to healthy hearing, wonderful smells, and strong bones!

Till next time,

References

1 http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/news/media/releases/hearing_loss_linked_to_three_fold_risk_of_falling
2 Viljanen, Anne, et al. “Hearing as a predictor of Falls and Postural Balance in Older Female Twins.” J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 64A(2): 312-317. January 31, 2009. Web. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2655032/
3 Gaillet, M., et al. “Priming effects of an olfactory food cue on subsequent food-related behaviour.” Food Quality and Preference. April 2013. Web. http://www.researchgate.net/publication/236608583_Priming_effects_of_an_olfactory_food_cue_on_subsequent_food-related_behaviour

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18 comments. Leave Yours Now →

  1. Cary Davis June 25, 2014, 10:33 am

    I’ve written a few times and haven’t received an answer to my question. My gynecologist has prescribed a nutritional supplement called Fosteum, which I have been taking for several years as an alternative to harmful drugs. I get lots of exercise (walking, yoga, Pilates, hiking), too. My bone density has improved significantly. What do you know and how do you feel about Fosteum? I haven’t noticed it mentioned in any of your wonderful postings. Thanks! Cary

  2. Roger Caven June 23, 2014, 11:23 pm

    Thanks Vivian for the insight. However, I have some important info to add. I am severely hearing impaired, but with my poor hearing comes poor sense of balance, both are interconnected and were damaged by medications. In my case at least it is not the hearing part which affects my falls, but rather the sense of balance. In order not to fall I need adequate light to orient my body and keep balance. I can remove my hearing aids and will have no problem as long as there is enough light for orientation of my body. In my case at least hearing has no influence.

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 25, 2014, 10:02 am

      Interesting, Roger! Thank you for sharing your experience. :)

  3. Leslie (Ms. L. Carmel) June 23, 2014, 10:57 pm

    Good Evening Vivian,

    This Was A Fabulous Article On The Bones, Nose, And Ears Connection. I Loved It!
    Thank You Very Much For Sharing It With Us.
    And I’ll Certainly Try The Sense Of Smell Tests!
    Thanks Again!

    LOVE, LESLIE (MS. L. CARMEL)

  4. Maria Tanner June 23, 2014, 4:16 pm

    I fell on Friday and broke my toe and fractured another bone near my ankle. The doctor also said I have mild degenerative bone disease in my hands and feet. What can I do for that?

    Maria

  5. Marlene Villar June 23, 2014, 2:58 pm

    Hello Vivian,
    Thank you very much for everything. I have learn so much
    from your e-mails as well as from others. I’m learning to
    do changes and follow through the new expanded edition of SAVEOURBONESPROGRAM that I purchased
    and received on April 8,2014. I have faith and hope that
    in GOD’S timing HE will reverse my bone loss. As Betty
    quote: Psalm 139:14 ” I will give thanks to Thee,for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well.
    Have a wonderful day Vivian and take good care always. Marlene

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 23, 2014, 3:04 pm

      Thank you for the inspiration, Marlene!

  6. Laura-Lynn June 23, 2014, 2:46 pm

    Hi
    I am a 58 year old mom of 12 and 30 grandchildren ,my bone have only plummeted in density in the last couple of years after menopause.
    Can you tell me if there is any negative interactions between strontium and iron that you are aware of , can they be taken together ?
    I am on Thyroid meds and Iron supplements , have altered the time of day taking my bone supplements away from my iron but I just purchased strontium citrate, not sure how to jungle taking all my supplements .
    Not sure of my DEXA score but my GP said I had the spine of a 100 year old .
    Kind regards
    L-L

  7. Isabella McAleese June 23, 2014, 11:42 am

    I am 84yrs.walk lots,exercise mostmornings,but when I had a bone density scan they said I had osteperosis!
    I refused the drugs,as I only take them if it is absolutely essential. I am 5ft and weigh 8 st. I take vit d spray and urticalcin..since I have being doing your excercises the pain in my lower left back has improve. Keep up the good work

  8. Jean June 23, 2014, 11:31 am

    vivian,
    After attending a Osteo. Council Meeting we were informed that Biophonates medicine helps to protect new bone growth so it is OK to take. I questioned the use of these meds, Please give me your view on this information, I know from being a part of your program you stated that they are not good to take. A renown Dr. put this in her report at the NOF Interdisciplinary Symposium on Osteoporosis in Apr. 2014, and we discussed it at our meeting.
    Thanks,
    Jean

  9. Betty June 23, 2014, 7:37 am

    Hi everyone. Thanks Vivian for another important aspect of how the parts of the body affect the whole. I have hearing aids but also suffer from congestion and head discomfort. It does take extra energy to try and be alert to think clearly and move with confidence, especially with fragility in the lower back as well. We are an amazing creation – “fearfully and wonderfully made” Psalm 139:14

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 23, 2014, 9:22 am

      Thank you for that reminder, Betty. :)

  10. Nick Bonardy June 23, 2014, 7:28 am

    You are not as observant as you may want to be in the number of ” Senses ” you spoke about ! Humans have been taught all along to count 5 senses , but we actually have 1 Primary and 4 Subs ! The sense we label as touch was misnamed ! … It is really the sense of consciousness ! Therefore , if you are unconscious , the other senses will not work !

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 23, 2014, 9:21 am

      Fascinating, Nick! I applaud you for questioning “what you’ve always been taught.” :)

  11. Crete Sham June 23, 2014, 3:56 am

    Hi Vivian – I have severe hearing problem – started off exactly as described – and have had many falls. I now wear a hearing aid, and have to be very careful of every step I take! But I just follow all your “Save Our Bones” advice in every respect, so I’m sure I’m doing the best for my bones! And thus trying to be well for as long as possible! Thanks for everything. Kind regards.
    Crete

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 23, 2014, 9:11 am

      I am glad you have help for your hearing, Crete!

  12. Anne June 23, 2014, 3:40 am

    Vivian: You never stop toiling on our behalf. I think you’re amazing!

    Here’s a question: I follow your 20% rule regarding diet pretty diligently, except that…. I’ve always enjoyed a ritualistic G & T with my husband in the evenings! (We are in our seventies). I have about two thimbles full of gin only (promise!) and fill up my glass with low calorie Indian tonic water to which I add a lot of lemon juice – three good squeezes. Delicious, but does the lemon juice do anything to counteract the undesirable contents of the tonic water as I’ve always hoped?!

    • Vivian Goldschmidt, MA June 23, 2014, 9:10 am

      Thank you for your kind words, Anne! While I can’t say the lemon juice “counteracts” the tonic water, I will say that enjoying alcohol in moderation is fine. :) Do your research and arm yourself with information, and then make your own personal decision as to what is “too much” or just right!

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