What Foods Help Restore Balance and Equilibrium

What Foods Help Restore Balance and Equilibrium

You have probably heard of a balanced diet, but have you ever thought about a diet for balance? Balance and equilibrium concerns are an increasing problem for people as they age, and are the most common reason older adults seek help from their doctor. Good balance means you can control and maintain your body position while you are moving or staying still. If you do not have good balance, you may stagger when you walk, fall when standing up or bending down, and trip on stairs. Falls are the leading cause of injury and death in individuals aged 65 plus in the United States. Every second of every day, an older adult falls, and one out of four older adults will fall every year. A loss of balance can be a devastating loss of independence for people, so it is important to do what you can to maintain your equilibrium. 

Balance disorders can be caused by inner ear disturbances or other sensory feedback issues. The vestibular system is the part of your inner ear that plays a large role in balance. Vestibular problems can result in vertigo and imbalance. Circulatory system diseases such as stroke can lead to dizziness and balance issues. Low blood pressure (hypotension) can cause dizziness, as well as head injuries and some medications. Common symptoms of balance disorders include dizziness, vertigo (a spinning sensation), falling, lightheadedness, blurred vision, confusion, and disorientation. You may also experience nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, heart rate and blood pressure changes, fear, anxiety, or panic. Balance disorders can also be indicative of other health problems like ear infections, stroke, or multiple sclerosis. Dealing with these health issues will likely decrease or resolve your balance issues.

Stack of white pebbles stone

Clearly, balance disorders are serious problems that affect millions of people. While medications are essential in managing your symptoms, food can also play a role in restoring your balance and equilibrium. For example, balance problems caused by high blood pressure can be managed by decreasing salt intake, maintaining a healthy weight, and exercising regularly. Conversely, balance issues due to low blood pressure may be mitigated by drinking enough fluids, avoiding alcohol, and moving more cautiously. Now we will take a look at some specific foods that have been shown to improve balance.

Foods That Can Improve Balance

1. Blueberries

Blueberries have been shown to improve memory, fight cancer with their anti-oxidative properties, and reduce the risk of cardiovascular problems. Studies have also found that blueberries improve balance. The component in blueberries linked with balance improvement is resveratrol, which has been shown to improve motor coordination.

Fresh blueberries

2. Red Grapes

Grape skin also contains resveratrol, which has been linked to both balance and longevity. Resveratrol has been shown to reduce inflammation, cholesterol, heart disease risk, certain types of cancer, and protect brain cells. 

3. Cranberries

Cranberries are extremely high in antioxidants, second only to blueberries. These berries are both delicious and balance-enhancing. 

4. Peanuts

Peanuts contain not only good fats and protein, but also provide balance-maintaining resveratrol.  

5. Chocolate

Chocolate, specifically dark chocolate, is rich in resveratrol. Dark chocolate also contains antioxidants and important minerals such as manganese, iron, and copper.

Dark Chocolate Macro

In addition to consuming more foods that improve your balance, it is important to avoid foods that may lead to dizziness or other balance concerns. Speak with your doctor and try minimizing or eliminating your intake of the following ingredients. 

Foods That Can Trigger Balance Problems 

1. Sodium (Salt)

As mentioned earlier, too much sodium can create balance issues. While our bodies do need a small amount of salt to function properly, most people consume at least twice the recommended amount. Lowering your sodium intake can help lower blood pressure and potentially help with balance disorders such as Meniere’s disease and secondary endolymphatic hydrops (SEH). For some, maintaining a consistent level of adequate sodium maybe even more important. Not getting enough sodium can trigger balance issues in some people. The recommended maximum daily sodium intake is 2300 mg (1 ½ teaspoon) with the adequate daily intake being only 1500 mg (slightly over ½ teaspoon). Eating whole foods and avoiding processed foods is the simplest way to lower your sodium intake. High sodium foods include canned or packaged foods, cereal, convenience items such as seasoned pasta or rice, frozen dinners, baked goods, sauces, foods preserved with salt (such as pickles), salad dressings, deli meats, bacon, chips, crackers, popcorn, trail mix, and bars. Generally, processed foods will contain more sodium than is beneficial. You can always read the nutritional labels to determine the sodium content of the food.

Sodium Chloride

3. Foods High in Tyramine

Tyramine is an amino acid that plays a role in regulating blood pressure. For some people, eating foods rich in tyramine triggers migraines and the associated dizziness. These foods include aged and fermented foods such as aged cheeses, processed or cured meats, and fish, Asian-style sauces, dried fruits, yogurt, red wine, and some beers. 

4. Foods with Nitrates and Nitrites

Some individuals have increased levels of gut microbes that turn foods with nitrates into nitric oxide by-products. For some, these by-products can trigger migraines. Some foods high in nitrates/nitrites are chocolate, wine, and cured meats.

5. Caffeine and Alcohol

Both caffeine and alcohol can worsen symptoms for people with dizziness and balance problems. Try avoiding both and see if you feel better. Caffeine is found in coffee, certain teas, chocolate, yerba mate, and soft drinks. Alcohol can create balance problems by negatively impacting the inner ear. 

Coffee with tea

6. Aspartame

Much like alcohol, this artificial sweetener can have adverse effects on the inner ear, leading to nausea, headache, and vertigo. 

7. Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Some individuals experience headaches and dizziness after eating foods with MSG. MSG is a flavor enhancer added to many canned foods and is stereotypically found in food from Asian restaurants. If you are sensitive, always read the label or ask the restaurant.

While it can seem overwhelming, you can simplify eating a diet for balance by focusing on whole foods. Consume plenty of vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats, and you are sure to feel better all around. 

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