For Your Health: Mary Poppins Was Right!

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Mary Poppins said it -- a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down. A new study out of Boston University says glucose may help trick bacteria into taking antibiotics, making them more effective at treating infection:

"So far, studies have only been conducted in animals, and more research is needed to see if the same results hold true in humans. But if they do, it's possible the antibiotics we already have could be improved without needing to make new drugs, which can be expensive. In addition, patients may not need to take multiple doses of antibiotics to combat recurrent infections, which would save on health care costs, said study researcher James Collins, a professor of Biomedical Engineering at Boston University."

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Playing a musical instrument could be the key to eternal youth. Research shows musicians have better memory and are better at hearing speech in noisy settings -- two functions known to deteriorate with age:

"Sound is the stock in trade of the musician in much the same way that a painter of portraits is keenly attuned to the visual attributes of the paint that will convey his or her subject," [study co-author Nina Kraus, director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University's School of Communication] added.

"If the materials that you work with are sound, then it is reasonable to suppose that all of your faculties involved with taking it in, holding it in memory and relating physically to it should be sharpened," she added. "Music experience bolsters the elements that combat age-related communication problems."

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Turns out there are benefits to nervous habits like pacing, tapping your fingers and bobbing your feet. Experts say these "activities of daily living" can actually add up and help you stay fit:

"The study examined the role in physical fitness of 'incidental' physical activity, which involves any movements that are not formally exercise. Also called 'activities of daily living,' they include walking to the window, bobbing your foot as you sit, pulling weeds in the yard, chopping onions for dinner and similar movements. Once, people accumulated large amounts of this unplanned exertion, since the world contained fewer cars, offices, elevators and takeout options. But levels of incidental physical activity have fallen sharply, and the amount that any one of us completes varies widely, since some people naturally fidget more than others and some have more physically demanding occupations, like nursing or mothering small, caroming children."

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