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If You Want to Eat Healthier, Smell More Unhealthy Foods

And four other things we learned about our bodies this week

The human body: An inspiring biological work of art? Or a meaty sack of germs and fluids? Either way, there’s still a lot we don’t know about what goes on in there — and scientists are constantly attempting to find out more. Here are the most interesting things we learned about our bodies in the last seven days…

Sniffing Fatty Foods Can Help You Make Healthier Choices

This might sound counterintuitive, but a new study shows that smelling unhealthy foods for longer than two minutes can prevent you from indulging. On the flip side, smelling them for any less time can do the exact opposite. For example: The researchers found that participants exposed to the smell of cookies for less than 30 seconds were more likely to want a cookie, whereas those exposed to the same scent for longer than two minutes chose to have some strawberries instead.

The researchers explain that this method works because the brain doesn’t necessarily discern between the two sources of sensory pleasure, which means that simply smelling a food can actually satisfy your stomach. Now please excuse me while I attempt to smell a plate of cookies for longer than two minutes without drooling on them.

Having a Thick Neck Can Prevent Concussions

Attention all football players: Working out your neck can make you resistant to concussions, according to a new study. “We have identified neck strength, size and posture as potential factors that reduce risk by lessening the magnitude of force upon impact,” says lead author Allison Brown in a press release. “Thus, increasing neck strength and possibly size could substantially reduce risk or severity of injury or outcomes.” All of which means this man must be completely immune to damage.

Chocolate Is More Effective Than Cough Syrup… Kinda

Good news, candy-lovers: A recent study found that medicine containing cocoa is better at soothing a sore throat than regular cough syrup. That’s because cocoa is more viscous, which helps to form a thick coating that protects the nerve endings in your throat. That said, eating an entire box of chocolate while you have a cold probably won’t help all that much, since this study only really shows that adding cocoa compounds to existing cough medicine formulations provides extra benefits. LAME.

Mindfulness Reduces Menopause Symptoms

Are you a menopausal woman struggling with irritability, anxiety and depression? Researchers found that being more mindful — the cure-all du jour that involves focusing your attention on the present, as well as observing thoughts and sensations without judgment — can basically solve all of your problems. “Essentially, the first step in being mindful is to become aware that our minds are on autopilot most of the time,” says lead author Richa Sood in a press release. “The goal during mindful moments isn’t to empty the mind, but to become an observer of the mind’s activity while being kind to oneself. The second step is to create a pause. Take a deep breath, and observe one’s own space, thoughts and emotions nonjudgmentally. The resulting calm helps lower stress.” So basically you just need to change your entire mindset — no biggie!

Pesticides Wreck Your Sense of Smell

Research examining more than 11,200 farmers over a 20-year period has found a link between unusually high pesticide exposure and a poor sense of smell, which could mean that the pesticide-covered produce we consume every day is destroying our noses. On the plus side, the research also found that washing with soap and water might mitigate the risk, so make sure to wash your fruits and veggies (and your body, if you ever deal with pesticides). And fuck it, wash your nose, too, just to be sure.