Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 February, 2012, 12:00am


Milk it for what it's worth

Whether in a latte, smoothie or with cereal, drinking at least one glass of milk a day could boost brain and mental performance. A recent study by University of Maine researchers tracked the milk consumption habits of more than 900 men and women aged 23 to 98, and put the participants through a series of brain tests - including visual-spatial, verbal and working memory tests. Those who drank at least one glass of milk each day were found to have an advantage. Those with the highest intake of milk and milk products scored highest, regardless of age and other lifestyle and diet factors that can affect brain health. In fact, milk drinkers tended to have healthier diets overall. The study was published in the International Dairy Journal.

How to commit social suicide

It's a potentially great way for people to strengthen relationships, but a new study reveals that Facebook isn't such a good thing for those with low self-esteem. Such people seem to behave counterproductively, bombarding friends with negative titbits about their lives and making themselves less likeable, according to the study, to be published in the journal Psychological Science. In their study, the University of Waterloo researchers asked students for their last 10 status updates; each set was then rated for how positive or negative it was. 'Coders' - undergraduate Facebook users not friends with the participants - rated how much they liked the person who wrote them. People with low self-esteem were more negative than people with high self-esteem - and the coders liked them less.

We can work it out

What does being committed to your marriage really mean? Psychologists from University of California, Los Angeles, who tracked 172 married couples over the first 11 years of marriage, found there are two meanings: 'I like this relationship and I'm committed to it' and 'I'm committed to doing what it takes to make this relationship work.' Of the couples studied, 78.5 per cent were still married after 11 years and 21.5 per cent were divorced. Those in which both people were willing to make sacrifices for the sake of the marriage were more effective at solving their problems, and significantly more likely to have lasting and happy marriages, say the researchers. They recommend against 'bank-account relationships', in which you keep score of how often you get your way and how often you compromise. The research is published online in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

Diet drinks a health fizzer

They may seem like healthier alternatives, but calorie-free soft drinks have been linked with an increased risk of vascular events such as stroke, heart attack and vascular death, in a new study published online in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. In contrast, regular soft drink consumption and a more moderate intake of diet soft drinks did not appear to have the same link. The researchers from the University of Miami and Columbia University analysed data from 2,564 people - their soft drink (diet and regular) consumption habits and the number of vascular events over a 10-year period. Those who drank diet soft drinks daily were 43 per cent more likely to have suffered a vascular event than those who drank none, after taking into account pre-existing vascular conditions such as metabolic syndrome, diabetes and high blood pressure. However, the researchers say further research is necessary before any conclusions can be drawn on the effects of sugar-free drink consumption.