Health bites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 July, 2013, 10:31am

Melody modulates choir members' heart rate

Better health could be going for a song. A new study from the Sahlgrenska Academy at University of Gothenburg, published in the journal Frontiers in Neuroscience, shows how musical melody and structure influences the heart rate of choir members. "Singing regulates activity in the so-called vagus nerve, which is involved in our emotional life and communication with others. Songs with long phrases achieve the same effect as breathing exercises in yoga. Through song we can exercise a certain control over mental states," explains Björn Vickhoff, lead author of the study.

Physical activity reorganises the brain

Researchers at Princeton University have uncovered another reason for the running high: exercise alters the brain so that its response to stress is reduced and anxiety is less likely to interfere with normal brain function. In the study in the Journal of Neuroscience, mice that exercised regularly and experienced a stressor - exposure to cold water - showed a spike in the activity of neurons that shut off excitement in a brain region shown to regulate anxiety.

People's diets show a sugar-fat see-saw

We're often told to cut our intake of fat and sugar, but new research shows most people just can't do it. According to a study review of 53 scientific papers published in the journal Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition there's an inverse association in the percentage of energy coming from fats and sugars, a phenomenon called the "sugar-fat see-saw". Dr Michele Sadler, who led the research team, says: "A key reason that we see this sugar-fat see-saw is likely to be because sources of sugars such as fruit, breakfast cereals and juices are low in fat, while sources of fat such as oils and meat products are low in sugar."