Health tips for June/July 2015

How aspartame can affect stress levels, and how the language a community uses on social media can predict its rate of heart disease.

Sip something sweet

Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages can keep stress at bay, but diet beverages sweetened with aspartame do not have the same effect, a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism finds. Researchers conducted stress tests on 19 women before and after the subjects consumed drinks sweetened with either sugar or aspartame for 12 days. The women in the sugar group had a lower output of the stress hormone cortisol at the end of the study period while those in the aspartame group did not. The results may also explain why many have a hard time kicking the sugar habit.

You are what you tweet

The language a community uses on social media can predict its rate of heart disease, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Science. Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania looked at a random sample of tweets from US individuals who made their locations known, as well as aggregate public health data on about 1,300 US counties. They found that in counties where Twitter posters used negative emotional language, including words such as “hate” or obscenities, there were higher rates of heart disease mortality. Conversely, there was less of a correlation to heart disease mortality in regions where people used positive emotional language (eg., “wonderful” or “friends”) on Twitter.