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Healthy People: ILL advised; Tapioca, chewing gum and dirt - they are all good for you say the experts. NICK BROWNLEE found some more fascinating, fun and downright freaky facts from the wacky medical world.

Byline: NICK BROWNLEE

Chewing

CHEWING gum might make a mess of your shoes and pavement, but it can do wonders for your memory. Boffins at the University of Northumbria revealed that the repetitive act of chewing increases heart rate and causes insulin to surge to the brain.

Drink

RED wine has long been recommended as a protector against heart disease, while beer is dismissed as causing obesity and leading to coronary problems. Er, wrong. It seems the humble pint might even be BETTER for the heart than red wine, as it contains plenty of vitamin B6, which prevents a build-up in homocysteine, a chemical thought to be linked to an increase in heart disease.

Moods

BEING thoroughly miserable is good for you, says psychologist Dr Barbara Held. She claims people who are having a hard time in life find it more difficult to cope if they are forced to put on a brave face. Instead, people who are depressed should wallow in their misery if they want to feel better about life.

Sweets

CHOCOLATE ruins teeth, right? No, wrong, say boffins at Osaka University in Japan.After three months of feeding rats a mix of sugar and cocoa, they discovered they had developed significantly healthier teeth.

Stressed

FEELING stressed out at work, everyone? Then take a break - and give your nearest workmate a big cuddle. Well, that is the solution to an unhappy office atmosphere, according to Australian body language guru Allan Pease. Women and gay men are already four times as likely to touch when communicating than straight men are - which is why they are said to be far happier at work. This apparantly helps them to communicate better and co-operate willingly with their workers.

Hygiene

DIRT is good for you - and that's official. People who are obsessive about hygiene and clean food may well be contributing to a worldwide upsurge in asthma cases. This is because the immune system grows accustomed to dealing with foreign invaders and without that exposure, according to leading Italian scientists, the immune system remains weak and vulnerable to attack.

Playboys

THEY may prefer to call themselves playboys, but unmarried middle- aged men risk premature death and chronic illnesses. A study for the Office for National Statistics found men living alone after the age of 45 were not only 50 per cent more likely to die prematurely, but significantly more susceptible to long-term illnesses such as diabetes and rheumatism.

Singing

SINGING can keep you young, according to researchers in Bristol. They claim that exercising the vocal cords keeps them youthful in old age, making you feel and sound younger. Although what your friends and family say is a rather different matter...

Kissing

IF you can't help stuffing your face with Christmas dinner, scientists at Birmingham's Museum of Science have come up with a festive solution. They say snogging under the mistletoe can help lose all the extra weight. Kissing - that's philematology - can burn off 26 cals a minute.

School meals

WE all hated it at school, but tapioca pudding may help cure cancer! Tapioca - `frog's sperm' to generations of schoolkids - is derived from the cassava plant, which manufactures cyanide to deter animals from eating it. Researchers at Newcastle University believe the enzymes which cause this reaction could be used to destroy cancerous cells in the human body.

Kids TV

EXPERTS have proved that even the Teletubbies are good for your health. Barely two years after campaigners demanded Tinky Winky and Co should be banned for being a bad influence, researchers at Sheffield Hallam University's Centre for English in Education claim the Teletubbies' nonsensical way of talking actually encouraged toddlers to take an active interest in language.

Dying

DEATH can improve your life - as long as it's your parents who kick the bucket, that is. Researchers in Madrid have discovered some people spend so much time worrying about when their parents will die that they make themselves ill. Some even commit suicide rather than wait for the inevitable demise of their loved ones and others have been known to murder their parents rather than prolong the wait. This outlook on life changes dramatically once the parents die.

Vitamins

VITAMIN C is a sure-fire cure for colds and sniffles - but it could also be a sure-fire route to an early grave. Scientists from the University of Southern California found that people who take 500mg of the vitamin each day are almost three times more likely to suffer strokes and heart attacks through thickening of arteries. Smokers who do so are FIVE times more likely to die from thickened arteries.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:May 26, 2002
Words:763
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