Grassland Beef - U.S. Wellness Meats
  1. Discover Blog
  2. /
  3. Health & Fitness
  4. /
  5. Tinnitus and Your Diet: Part 2

Tinnitus and Your Diet: Part 2

tinnitus and auditory health prevent inner ear issues

In part one of this article, you discovered how key nutrient deficiencies can influence your risk for tinnitus and the ancestral superfoods you can enjoy to optimize micronutrients for auditory health.

In today’s follow-up, you’ll discover the toxic substances, specific food compounds, and biochemical imbalances that can contribute to the onset and persistence of tinnitus so you can take the steps and get relief.

Can Toxins Cause Tinnitus?

Certain toxic substances, accumulated in the body over the time, can disrupt the delicate balance of the auditory system, leading to, or worsening, tinnitus.

Let’s take a look at the toxic compounds linked with tinnitus:

Heavy Metals

Heavy metals like lead, mercury, and cadmium are known for their ototoxic effects—capable of damaging the delicate structures within the ear and the auditory nerve.

Heavy metals not only cause oxidative stress and inflammation, but they also disrupt cellular function, and interfere with neurotransmitter systems in the auditory pathway.

For instance, mercury exposure can lead to the accumulation of free radicals in the cochlea, damaging hair cells essential for hearing.i

To reduce your exposure to heavy metals:

  • Choose organic produce to avoid pesticides containing heavy metals.
  • Use a high-quality water filter that removes heavy metals.
  • Limit the use of products containing heavy metals, such as certain paints, batteries, and seafood known for high mercury levels (e.g., large predatory fish such as swordfish, king mackerel, and tuna).

And if you believe you may have heavy metal toxicity, talk with your healthcare professional to get tested and create a protocol for detoxification.

grass cattle browse all natural pasture raised banner


Salicylates are a group of chemicals found in various foods, medications, and personal care products. Aspirin, one of the most well-known sources, is widely used for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties.

High doses of salicylates can affect the cochlea by altering ion channels and causing an imbalance in the inner ear fluid. This can result in temporary or permanent tinnitus.ii Other studies show that both short-term and long-term salicylate exposure can disrupt the normal functioning of auditory nerves and inner ear cells.iii

Along with aspirin, be mindful of foods high in salicylates, including:


  • Strawberries
  • Raspberries
  • Blackberries
  • Blueberries

Citrus Fruits

  • Oranges
  • Grapefruits
  • Tangerines

Other Fruits

  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Raisins
  • Peaches
  • Plums
  • Nectarines
  • Pineapples
  • Apricots

Nightshade Vegetables

  • Tomatoes
  • Peppers (bell peppers, hot peppers)
  • Eggplants

Leafy Greens

  • Spinach
  • Chicory
  • Endive

Other Vegetables

  • Broccoli
  • Zucchini
  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Olives (especially black olives)

If you are sensitive to salicylates, you can manage your intake by choosing fruits and vegetables with lower salicylate content such as bananas, pears, green beans, and peas.iv

Mints, gums, and certain candies can also be high in salicylates. Here are the most common offenders:

  • Peppermint and Spearmint: Both peppermint and spearmint are high in salicylates. Products like peppermint candies, spearmint gum, and mint-flavored breath fresheners often contain these compounds. The essential oils derived from these plants are particularly rich in salicylates.
  • Chewing Gum: Many types of chewing gum, especially those with mint flavors, can contain significant amounts of salicylates. Brands that use natural mint oils for flavoring are particularly high in these compounds.
  • Fruit-Flavored Candies: Candies flavored with fruits like berries, oranges, and other high-salicylate fruits can also have elevated salicylate levels. Examples include fruit chews, gummies, and hard candies.
  • Cough Drops and Lozenges: Many cough drops and throat lozenges, which often contain mint or eucalyptus oil, are high in salicylates.

If you are concerned about your salicylate intake, check the ingredient list for natural mint oils or other high-salicylate ingredients. Opt for non-mint-flavored candies and gums that do not use high-salicylate flavorings.vvi

Caffeine and Nicotine

Caffeine, found in coffee, tea, and chocolate, can affect the auditory system by altering blood flow and increasing blood pressure, potentially exacerbating tinnitus symptoms.

Studies have shown that high caffeine intake can heighten tinnitus perception by constricting blood vessels and reducing blood flow to the inner ear.vii

To reduce your risk, limit caffeine intake to 200-300 mg per day (approximately 2-3 cups of coffee).

Similarly, nicotine stimulates the release of acetylcholine, which can lead to changes in neural activity within the auditory system.viii Seek support to quit smoking and avoid exposure to secondhand smoke.

Now that you’ve discovered the toxins that may contribute to tinnitus, let’s take a look at how metabolic issues can impact your risk …

Your Metabolism and Tinnitus

Disturbances in blood sugar metabolism, insulin sensitivity, and lipid levels can all contribute to the development and exacerbation of tinnitus.

By addressing these biochemical issues through diet and lifestyle changes, you can support better auditory function and help alleviate tinnitus symptoms – not to mention, improve your overall health and risk for chronic diseases!

Blood Sugar Imbalances

Healthy glucose metabolism is vital for the functioning of the auditory system.

Both hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) can negatively impact auditory health.

Diabetes can lead to vascular damage, including the small blood vessels supplying the inner ear, which may result in tinnitus. Similarly, episodes of low blood sugar can disrupt the energy supply to auditory cells, causing hearing disturbances.ix

Insulin Resistance

Insulin resistance, a precursor to type 2 diabetes, impairs the body’s ability to use insulin effectively, leading to elevated blood sugar levels.

This can cause endothelial dysfunction, reducing blood flow to various organs, including the inner ear.x

discover blog banner health articles and recipes

Oxidized Cholesterol Levels

Oxidized cholesterol can lead to the formation of plaques in the blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the inner ear. This can deprive auditory cells of essential nutrients and oxygen, potentially leading to tinnitus.

A study published in The International Journal of Audiology found that individuals with higher levels of oxidized LDL had a greater risk of developing tinnitus.xi

Another research article in Oxidative Medicine and Cellular Longevity discussed the role of oxidative stress and inflammation in auditory health, emphasizing the importance of antioxidants in mitigating the harmful effects of oxidized cholesterol.xii

To keep your cholesterol healthy and prevent oxidation, be sure to eat a low sugar/low carbohydrate diet and avoid seed oils high in inflammatory omega-6 fats (including corn oil, soybean oil, canola oil, and vegetable oils).

By addressing the behind-the-scenes biochemical issues through targeted dietary and lifestyle modifications, you can make significant strides in managing tinnitus. Choose an ancestral diet rich in healthy native fats and protein, be mindful of your blood sugar, potential trigger foods, and toxins, and engage in regular vigorous exercise to support your auditory health…  and overall well-being!

kelley herring

Kelley Herring

Looking for healthy and delicious, keto-friendly holiday recipes? From sumptuous appetizers… to meltingly- tender meats… comfort- food side dishes… as well as low-carb cocktails and desserts, you’ll find everything you need to bring festive and delicious, low-carb and keto-friendly holiday meals to the table that will delight your family and guests. Grab your copy of Keto Holidays, 100% free.

For more riveting articles on how to become your best self, visit our Discover Blog today!



  1. Counter, S. A., Buchanan, L. H., & Laurell, G. (2003). Neuro-ototoxicity in Andean children exposed to mercury vapor: A review. *Neurotoxicology*, 24(5-6), 783-793.
  2. Myers, C., Harris, E., & Maher, C. (2014). Salicylate ototoxicity: Review and update. *International Journal of Audiology*, 53(6), 345-356.
  3. Puel, J. L., Guitton, M., Pujol, R., & Ruel, J. (2008). Salicylate toxicity model of tinnitus. *Frontiers in Neuroscience*.
  4. Swain, A. R., Dutton, S. P., & Truswell, A. S. (1985). Salicylates in foods. *Journal of the American Dietetic Association*, 85(8), 950-960.
  5. Swain, A. R., Dutton, S. P., & Truswell, A. S. (1985). Salicylates in foods. *Journal of the American Dietetic Association*, 85(8), 950-960.
  6. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Salicylate sensitivity: Foods to avoid. Retrieved from [Mayo Clinic](
  7. Gopal, K. V., Kumar, M. R., & Chari, S. (2001). Coffee and caffeine: Symptom progression and prevention. *Journal of Clinical Nutrition*, 20(6), 295-301.
  8. Chen, K., & Elfering, A. (2016). Smoking, tinnitus, and related factors: A review. *Noise & Health*, 18(82), 151-158.
  9. Bainbridge, K. E., Hoffman, H. J., & Cowie, C. C. (2010). Risk factors for hearing impairment among US adults with diabetes: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 1999–2004. *Diabetes Care*, 33(11), 2320-2325.
  10. Bainbridge, K. E., Hoffman, H. J., & Cowie, C. C. (2008). Diabetes and hearing impairment in the United States: audiometric evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 1999 to 2004. *Annals of Internal Medicine*, 149(1), 1-10.
  11. Lin, F. R., Maas, P., Costello, R., & Zeger, S. L. (2017). Association of hearing loss with reduced physical functioning in older adults. International Journal of Audiology, 56(1), 29-36.
  12. Haider, H. F., Bojić, T., Ribeiro, S. F., Paço, J., Hall, D. A., & Szczepek, A. J. (2013). Pathophysiology of subjective tinnitus: Triggers and maintenance. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 7, 238.