Lower your risk of gallstones

There is a simple way to do it – just make sure your diet contains plenty of the mineral magnesium. According to a new study, a diet rich in magnesium can reduce the risk of developing this very painful condition.

Researchers studied data of more than 42,000 men from ages 40 to 75 and found that those with the highest magnesium intake decreased their risk of gallstones by as much as 33 percent. Magnesium helps to keep down triglyceride levels and raise the levels of HDL (the ‘good’ cholesterol)in the blood. Cholesterol is a major component in the formation of gallstones, in fact some gallstones are made up entirely of cholesterol,so it makes sense that higher magnesium levels will help to stop the gallstones from forming in the first place.

Magnesium is the fourth most abundant vitamin in the body, with 40 percent of it being found in our bones. It has plenty of other health benefits too and is needed for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function, keeps your heart rhythm steady, supports a healthy immune system, and keeps bones strong. Magnesium also helps regulate blood sugar levels, promotes normal blood pressure, and is known to be involved in energy metabolism and protein synthesis. Research is also now focusing its role in preventing and managing disorders such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes.

What foods provide magnesium? Green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli are good sources of magnesium because the centre of the chlorophyll molecule (which gives green vegetables their colour) contains magnesium. Beans and peas, nuts and pumpkin seeds, and whole, unrefined grains are also good sources as is halibut and, strangely enough, peppermint. In spite of its benefits, magnesium consumption has declined over the years, partly as a result of our food becoming subject to so many more processes that deplete the magnesium, along with many other vitamins and minerals. As ever, a varied, wholegrain and natural food diet is your best bet.

Antioxidants for ‘airport ears’

Do you live near to an airport or are you often exposed to loud noise on a regular basis? Are you suffering from hearing loss because of it? If so, you may be interested to hear of some new research, at present only being carried out on guinea pigs, that seems to show that having a good level of antioxidants might just make all the difference. The University of Michigan Hearing Research Institute carried out the study and they gave the guinea pigs a mix of antioxidants: vitamins A, C, and E, and magnesium one hour before they were exposed to the equivalent decibel level comparable to a jet engine taking off. The guinea pigs continued to be given the same amount of the antioxidant mix for a further five days after that single event. A test group were also exposed to the same decibel level, but with no antioxidants given.

When they compared the hearing levels of the two groups at the end of the five-day period, the group that had taken antioxidants experienced a significantly lower loss of hearing. So could it help us too? I will pass on information on phase two of the research, where the Michigan researchers are testing the same antioxidants on soldiers who are exposed to high decibel levels during training, and indeed often very frequently afterwards.