Fun Little Tricks

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Strange But True

At lolo, I’m constantly reading the latest research concerning health, fitness, nutrition, and supplements to make sure we always bring you useful information that can help you reach your goals as quickly as possible. Through the course of my research, I tend to stumble across all kinds of interesting little facts that, while not appropriate for a full article, are still pretty fascinating (and often quite useful). I thought I could share a few interesting tricks in a single article that people might find useful (and a few that might just blow your mind).

Stop a sneeze with ease

Now when I say stop a sneeze, I don’t mean try and hold in a sneeze and blow your eyeballs out of their sockets. The point of this trick is to interrupt a sneeze you feel coming on before it can erupt at an inopportune moment. It’s not only a handy trick to avoid creating a disturbance at a bad time, but it’s also good to know if you’re recovering from a surgery or injury when explosive sneezes could actually be harmful.

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I actually learned this trick from a former Navy Seal Sniper. Have you ever wondered how special forces soldiers stifle a badly timed sneeze so they don’t give away their position? I did and quite frankly I wasn’t expecting there to be a solution other than pure willpower. He was taught a simple technique to stop an oncoming sneeze that I’ve been using for years myself and it’s never failed to work. By slightly bending the tip of your nose to the side with your finger, you interrupt the signal to the trigeminal nerve which stops the sneeze signal instantly.

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Stop brain freeze cold

Here’s another trick involving the trigeminal nerve. When you drink something cold, the nerves in the roof of your mouth (your palate) are chilled and your body thinks your brain is getting dangerously cold. The sudden temperature change stimulates rapid dilation and swelling of blood vessels in an attempt to direct blood to the area and warm it back up. The dilation of the blood vessels also triggers pain receptors through the trigeminal nerve (the same one you used to stop a sneeze) to alert the brain to the problem. Because the trigeminal nerve also senses facial pain, the brain interprets that the pain signal is coming from the forehead. This is called “referred pain” since the cause of the pain is in a different location from where you feel it.

Some people are more susceptible to brain freeze than others due to the shape of their mouths. Having a deeper palate (farther away from the source of the cold temperatures) can help protect you from brain freeze, and it also hints at how to cure it for those unfortunate people who experience brain freeze. Simply press your tongue to the roof of your mouth to quickly warm your palate back up and the pain will fade away.

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Ow, my side!

Another annoying pain that plagues some people is that stitch in the side that can occur while running. While no one is actually sure what causes this pain, many theorize it’s caused by a cramp in the diaphragm (the large flat muscle below your lungs that controls breathing). One belief is that the impact from running can cause free-floating organs like your liver to tug on the diaphragm and cause muscle spasms. Since the liver is on the right, many believe that landing on your right foot during an exhale increases the likelihood of a stitch. To limit the chance of a spasm or to quickly end a stitch, try to time your exhale with your left foot striking the ground. A stitch isn’t limited to one side so if you happen to feel the stitch on your left, use the same trick in reverse by exhaling as your right foot hits the ground.

Some other ways to prevent this uncomfortable muscle spasm or relieve a stitch once it happens:

  • Breathe Deep. Shallow, short breathing increases the likelihood of a spasm, so try to slow your breathing and take deep controlled breaths. Try to really expand your belly and chest with each breath.

  • Grunt Breathing. Another breathing trick you can use to get rid of a stitch is to make a grunting sound when you exhale. This seems to help by forcing the diaphragm out of its taught exhale position.

  • Get Low. This is just good advice to protect all your muscles and joints when you run (and improve your speed). Since the ligament pull from impact can increase the likelihood of a stitch, try to reduce your impact by pulling in your stride and increasing your turnover (the number of times your feet hit the ground). Most people think a longer stride makes you run faster, but it’s actually the opposite. When professional runners (both sprinters and long-distance runners) get faster, their stride length actually shortens. A longer stride increases your bounce (and impact) and slows you down, so fix your stride and more pains than just the stitch in your side will go away.

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Trick your taste buds

Why does orange juice taste so horrible after brushing your teeth? An ingredient in toothpaste called sodium lauryl sulfate suppresses the tastebuds that register sweet tastes while simultaneously clearing out phospholipids from your mouth that help shield you against bitter tastes. So even if you drink orange juice a while after brushing your teeth, the sweet tastes are blocked and the bitter tastes are enhanced. While harmless but annoying, it does hint at the fact it’s possible to trick your tastebuds in ways you might enjoy.

Artichokes are actually able to enhance the sweet taste of anything you eat next. Ironically, it does this by blocking the sweet taste buds as well. However, once the Cyanarin from the artichokes is washed off of your tongue, the sweet tastebuds are extra sensitive for a short amount of time, which is why even water will taste a little sweet after an artichoke.

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While the affect from artichokes is mild, there is another fruit that temporarily binds with your taste buds and enhances sweetness in the presence of sour foods. This means acidic foods like lemons, vinegar, and even tabasco sauce taste sweet. It sounded so bizarre, I had to test it out myself and I can attest that it does work for about 1 - 2 hours after eating the aptly named miracle fruit. The full name is Synsepalum dulcificum, but you can find the extract under the name miracle fruit. I would recommend buying the extract pills since the berries themselves are pretty expensive and perishable. It’s really more of an interesting experiment than a way to manage your sweet tooth in the long term.

Dr. Linda Bartoshuk at the University of Florida’s Center for Smell and Taste says that she does not know of any dangers with eating the fruit, but consuming a high amount of acidic foods can upset your stomach and leave your mouth feeling pretty raw. The reason we respond so unpleasantly to strong acidic content is to keep us from consuming too much of it. Miracle fruit has been around for years, as have the “tasting parties” associated with it. Like I said, it’s an interesting experiment and a fun trick, but don’t expect it to become your long term solution to a sugar addiction.

Fun and interesting

Nothing life changing, just interesting little facts that may help occasionally throughout your life. I’ve tried them all myself and can attest that they work. I always love reading interesting random facts so if you know any, please share them below.

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