First thing each morning, venti coffees in hand, the MensHealth.com team gathers for its daily story meeting. One by one, we throw ideas onto the table and brace ourselves for our colleagues’ reactions—good, bad, or ugly.
On a recent Monday, Reporter Andrew Daniels jumpstarted our meeting with this: “I want to throw a flavor-tripping party!”
After the requisite “we don’t care what you did last weekend” jokes, Daniels explained. He’d read about a so-called miracle fruit, grown on trees in West Africa—but readily available in the United States—that transforms your taste buds so that sour foods suddenly taste incredibly sweet. The effect lasts for up to 2 hours.
Naturally, after hearing this, we all wanted to throw a flavor-tripping party. So that’s exactly what we did the following Friday. The fruit worked as advertised: Raw lemons tasted like sweet lemonade, tomatoes more like ripe mangos, onions like apples. (For more about our taste test and the berries, check out Daniels’ story and a funny video from our flavor-tripping party here. That's Andrew at left, about to enjoy a raw onion!)
Pretty cool, huh? As I’ve learned over my years at Men's Health, our bodies can play some fantastic tricks—without the intervention of a miracle fruit. Consider the 10 amazing human body tricks that follow. I bet you didn’t know that you can . . .
. . . Fix a Throat Tickle by Scratching Your Ear!
Simply scratch the outer edge of your ear canal lightly, and you'll stop gagging. "When the nerves in the ear are stimulated, it creates a reflex in the throat that can cause a muscle spasm," says Scott Schaffer, M.D., president of an ear, nose, and throat specialty center in Gibbsboro, New Jersey. "This spasm relieves the tickle."
. . . Experience Supersonic Hearing at Parties!
If you're stuck chatting up a mumbler at a cocktail party, lean in with your right ear. It's better than your left at following the rapid rhythms of speech, according to researchers at the UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine. If, on the other hand, you're trying to identify that song playing softly in the elevator, turn your left ear toward the sound. The left ear is better at picking up music tones.
. . . Clear a Stuffy Nose with Your Tongue!
Forget Sudafed. An easier, quicker, and cheaper way to relieve sinus pressure is by alternately thrusting your tongue against the roof of your mouth, then pressing between your eyebrows with one finger. This causes the vomer bone, which runs through the nasal passages to the mouth, to rock back and forth, says Lisa DeStefano, D.O., an assistant professor at the Michigan State University college of osteopathic medicine. The motion loosens congestion; after 20 seconds, you'll feel your sinuses start to drain.
BONUS TIP: These berries aren't the only magic food at the supermarket. Check out our list of the 40 Foods with Superpowers—foods that, even in moderation, can strengthen your heart, fortify your bones, and boost your metabolism so you can lose weight more quickly.
. . . Fight Heartburn while You Sleep!
Worried those wings will repeat on you tonight? "Sleep on your left side," says Anthony A. Starpoli, M.D., a New York City gastroenterologist and assistant professor of medicine at New York Medical College. Studies have shown that patients who sleep on their left sides are less likely to suffer from acid reflux. The esophagus and stomach connect at an angle. When you sleep on your right, the stomach is higher than the esophagus, allowing food and stomach acid to slide up your throat. When you're on your left, the stomach is lower than the esophagus, so gravity's in your favor.
. . . Make Burns Disappear!
When you accidentally singe your finger on the stove, clean the skin and apply light pressure with the finger pads of your unmarred hand. Ice will relieve your pain more quickly, Dr. DeStefano says, but since the natural method brings the burned skin back to a normal temperature, the skin is less likely to blister.
. . . Stop a Nosebleed from Inside Your Mouth!
Pinching your nose and leaning back is a great way to stop a nosebleed—if you don't mind choking on your own O positive. A more civil approach: Put some cotton on your upper gums, just behind that small dent below your nose--and press against it, hard. "Most bleeds come from the front of the septum, the cartilage wall that divides the nose," says Peter Desmarais, M.D., an ear, nose, and throat specialist at Entabeni Hospital, in Durban, South Africa. "Pressing here helps stop them."
. . . Beat Stress with Your Thumb!
Trying to quell first-date jitters? Blow on your thumb. The vagus nerve, which governs heart rate, can be controlled through breathing, says Ben Abo, an emergency medical-services specialist at the University of Pittsburgh. It'll get your heart rate back to normal.
. . . Correct Near-Sightedness by Flexing Your Muscles!
Poor distance vision is rarely caused by genetics, says Anne Barber, O.D., an optometrist in Tacoma, Washington. "It's usually caused by near-point stress." In other words, staring at your computer screen for too long. So flex your way to 20/20 vision. Every few hours during the day, close your eyes, tense your body, take a deep breath, and, after a few seconds, release your breath and muscles at the same time. Tightening and releasing muscles such as the biceps and glutes can trick involuntary muscles—like the eyes—into relaxing as well.
. . . Beat Pins and Needles by Shaking Your Head!
If your hand falls asleep while you're sitting in an odd position, rock your head from side to side. It'll painlessly banish your pins and needles in less than a minute, says Dr. DeStefano. A tingly hand or arm is often the result of compression in the bundle of nerves in your neck; loosening your neck muscles releases the pressure. Compressed nerves lower in the body govern the feet, so don't let your sleeping dogs lie. Stand up and walk around.
. . . Remember Anything!
"If you're giving a speech the next day, review it before falling asleep," says Candi Heimgartner, an instructor of biological sciences at the University of Idaho. Since most memory consolidation happens during sleep, anything you read right before bed is more likely to be encoded as long-term memory.
And that's just the beginning. For more amazing body tricks, check out 18 Tricks to Teach Your Body.
Additional reporting by Kate Dailey
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