Diet and Tinnitus: What to Eat and What to Avoid

By Barry Keate
Barry Keate, has lived with tinnitus over 40 years and has published 150+ research articles on numerous aspects of tinnitus. He is an expert on the condition and a well-known advocate for those with tinnitus.

I hear from many people that their tinnitus varies from day to day and often worsens for no apparent reason. They may be unaware that what they ate that day may correlate with worsened tinnitus. Because tinnitus and diet are related, a thoughful diet plan needs to be created if you are experiencing tinnitus.

Maintaining a healthy diet is central to the management and lowering of tinnitus sounds, so it is important to understand which foods help and which hurt in the battle against tinnitus.

Michael Seidman, MD, is one of the world’s foremost authorities on conditions of the inner ear. He often recommends Arches Tinnitus Formulas to his patients for the reduction of tinnitus, but he also emphasizes the need to reduce or eliminate salt, simple sugars, saturated and trans-fats, nicotine, and alcohol. Many processed foods also contain chemicals, artificial sweeteners and flavor enhancers that directly worsen tinnitus.

Incorporating the following guidelines into our daily regimen should both improve overall health and reduce tinnitus.


Diet and Tinnitus

Knowledgeable Ear, Nose & Throat physicians advise their tinnitus patients to reduce salt intake. The sodium in regular table salt (sodium chloride) is the culprit.

Excess sodium is directly linked to increased tinnitus. It restricts blood vessels, increases blood pressure, and significantly reduces blood flow to the cochlea. Many people who are unaware of this will consume chips and other salty snacks and bemoan their tinnitus, without ever noticing the link. Avoiding high sodium intake is a critical part of the tinnitus diet.

Processed and pre-packaged foods contain very high levels of sodium, partly because salt is used as a preservative to increase shelf life. A typical can of soup contains more sodium than the recommended daily allowance for an adult.

Refined and Simple Sugars

Sugar metabolism is critical for the proper functioning of the auditory system. The cochlea has no food supply other than the bloodstream, which delivers oxygen and glucose (sugar) to support proper function. Interruption or disturbance of this nutrient supply causes malfunction and damage.

Studies have shown that between 84 and 92 percent of people with tinnitus have a sugar metabolism disorder known as hyperinsulinemia. This occurs when the body becomes desensitized to insulin and the pancreas must produce more insulin to convert carbohydrates and sugar into glucose for delivery to the organs. This an early step in a slide toward Type II Diabetes.

Researchers in Brazil treated tinnitus patients who had hyperinsulinemia with a diet suitable for diabetics. For two years they were instructed to eat every three hours, avoid sugar and simple carbohydrates, restrict their intake of fatty foods, limit alcohol, and drink four to six glasses of water per day. After two years, 76 percent of subjects who stayed on the diet saw improvement ranging from moderate to complete resolution of their tinnitus.

This article has a more detailed discussion of sugar metabolism and tinnitus.

Sugar Substitutes

Diet and Tinnitus

Unfortunately, many sugar substitutes are worse than sugar itself.

Aspartame (sold as NutraSweet, Equal, Spoonful and Indulge) is widely used and is marketed to those who are overweight or diabetic, because it does not contain sugar. However, it is an excitatory neurotransmitter which causes neurons to become hyper-excited and drains them of nutrients until they wither and die. Here is a more detailed discussion on aspartame and how it affects tinnitus.

Nor does Aspartame reduce obesity. It blocks a gut enzyme, intestinal alkaline phosphatase, preventing it from signaling the brain to stop eating. People who stop using Aspartame typically find that they eat less and lose weight.

Other artificial sweeteners also have detrimental effects. For example, Sucralose is chlorinated sugar; chlorine, a potent poison, is freed during digestion. And saccharin (sodium saccharin) is carcinogenic in large doses.

Xylitol and Stevia pose no known dangers and are considered safe to use.

Here is the complete story on good and bad sugar substitutes.

Flavor Enhancers

Diet and Tinnitus

Most processed, pre-packaged foods contain flavor enhancers. The most common is MSG (monosodium glutamate). In the body, it breaks down to glutamate, another excitatory neurotransmitter, which has the same harmful effects as Aspartame: it overexcites neurons until they die.

Due to FDA labeling laws, MSG must be listed as an ingredient only if it is added in its free form. It is often camouflaged as hydrolyzed vegetable protein, vegetable or plant protein, natural flavoring, or spices.

Here is a longer discussion of MSG and tinnitus.


Saturated fats and trans-fats have multiple negative effects on the body and on tinnitus specifically. They increase LDL (bad cholesterol), decrease HDL (good cholesterol), increase triglycerides, and generally plug up the vascular system, causing atherosclerosis. This is a risk factor for heart disease and stroke, and also significantly reduces blood flow. This, in turn, inhibits both the removal of toxins from the inner ear and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients. Healthy blood flow is necessary for healthy ears and proper brain function.

Diet and Tinnitus

Unsaturated fats from vegetables, nuts and fish are excellent choices. They help reverse the negative effects of saturated fats. They lower cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce inflammation. Cooking oils such as olive oil are widely used in the Mediterranean region, where there is a low incidence of heart disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish oil, help reduce inflammation and pain. They increase insulin sensitivity and are recommended for people with diabetes. The list of health benefits from fish oil is very long.

Mediterranean Diet

Meditrerranean Diet Pyramid

The Mediterranean Diet is best for almost everyone, including those of us who suffer from tinnitus. It combines daily exercise with plenty of whole grain bread or pasta, fruits, vegetables, olive oil, cheese, and yoghurt. Fish, poultry, eggs, and sweets can be used several times per week, while red meat is allowed several times a month. Wine is permitted in moderation.

In any case, the key to a healthy diet is keeping food closest to its original state – the opposite of processed and packaged foods. Fresh food tastes much better than processed and packaged food – so much so that, after several weeks of this discipline, taste buds adapt, and processed foods begin to taste like chemicals.

Arches Tinnitus Formula

Tinnitus Starter Kit - 4 bottles of Arches Tinnitus FormulaArches Tinnitus Formula has been scientifically proven to reduce tinnitus for the great majority of those who use it. It is especially helpful in cases of hearing loss-induced tinnitus (about 85 percent of tinnitus cases). It is very effective in combination with a diet that is free of additives which promote tinnitus.

It can take up to three months to get the full benefit of Arches Tinnitus Formula, so we recommend Arches Tinnitus Starter Kit, a full three-month supply (four bottles).

NOTE: Arches Tinnitus Formula® can be very effective in reducing tinnitus when taken for at least 100 days (4 bottles) to determine its total effectiveness. Maintaining a healthy diet as described above will further serve to enhance successful results.