Tinnitus is the phantom perception of sound in the ears or head that increases in prevalence as age increases. With strong evidence supporting the benefits of dietary fibre for vascular health and hearing loss, intake of dietary fibre may also have a role in the prevention of tinnitus symptoms. This longitudinal study aims to determine the association between the intake of dietary fibre and other carbohydrate nutrition variables including glycaemic index (GI), glycaemic load (GL) and total carbohydrate intakes, and incident tinnitus over 10 years. Of the 1730 participants (aged ≥50 years) from the Blue Mountains Hearing Study with complete baseline data on tinnitus symptoms and carbohydrate intakes, 536 (31%) cases of tinnitus were identified and excluded from further incidence analysis. Dietary data were collected using a validated semi-quantitative food frequency questionnaire to determine intakes of total dietary fibre and fibre contributions from cereals, vegetables, and fruit. A purpose-built database based on Australian GI values was used to calculate mean GI. Lower versus higher intakes of fruit fibre (≤3.6 g/day vs. >3.6 g/day) and cereal fibre (≤4.2 g/day vs. >4.2 g/day) were significantly associated with a 65% (HR = 1.65; 95% CI: 1.15–2.36) and 54% (HR = 1.54; 95% CI: 1.07–2.22) increased risk of developing tinnitus over 10 years, respectively. Associations between intake of other carbohydrate nutrients and incident tinnitus were mostly non-significant. In summary, our study showed modest associations between intake of dietary fibre and incident tinnitus. The protective effects of fibre, particularly insoluble fibre, could underlie observed associations by reducing the risk of tinnitus via vascular risk factors such as cardiovascular disease. Further longitudinal studies evaluating different types and sources of fibre and tinnitus risk are needed to confirm our study findings.
- Dietary fibre
- Older adults