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Cutting-Edge Health Tips

Your doctor no doubt has plenty of great tips and advice on living a healthier, happier life. But much of his wisdom actually comes from the research results of veteran laboratory scientists and researchers. So why not cut out the middleman (or woman)? Here are some surprising lessons directly from the very experts who have performed cutting-edge studies—and you won't believe the lengths to which researchers go to test them! Use their knowledge today to prevent illness, improve your sex life, sleep more soundly, and much more.

1. Soothe achy feet

The researcher: Charles Lundy, PhD, associate director of product development for foot care, Schering-Plough Healthcare Products

The lessons: High-heel insoles ease foot pain—just ask the guys. "We found a way to design high-heel insoles so that they shifted the user's weight back on the heels and off the forefoot—the root of foot pain for many high-heel wear-ers. Our department at the time was all men, so for the initial tests we conducted, we had some of the male engineers walk around the office in high-heel shoes! When we were fairly confident of the design, we did eventually test the insole (Dr. Scholl's for Her High Heel Insole) with women in clinical studies and found that it made a real difference in making high heels more comfortable."

Good insoles can help all your joints. "We knew insoles and orthotics eased foot pain, but we also proved in clinical studies that they provide pain relief for osteoarthritis in the back, hips, and knees. It was pretty unique to find that something under your foot can help the rest of your body too."

2. Keep germs at bay

The researcher: Charles P. Gerba, PhD, professor and environmental microbiologist, University of Arizona

The lesson: Use hand sanitizer. "The CDC still pushes hand washing, but in my research, alcohol-based hand sanitizers were actually more effective at reducing bacteria. I personally prefer them to hand washing and usually carry a small bottle around with me. I would do both whenever possible."

3. Feel happier now

The researcher: Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhD, professor and director, Positive Psychology Laboratory, University of California, Riverside

The lesson: Joy is in your hands. "Nearly half of your happiness is determined by what you do and how you think. That means there are many opportunities to change how you feel. I had one student who was paralyzed in an accident and hospitalized for months, yet his first emotion was gratitude. Why? He had thought he was going to die, and despite the circumstances, he was grateful he didn't."

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4. Have hotter sex

The researcher: Alan Hirsch, MD, director, Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation

The lesson: Smelling popcorn can boost your sex life. "Our studies found that men respond to just about any scent with increased penile blood flow. Skip the pricey perfume—it upped blood flow by only 3%. The smell of cheese pizza increased it by 5%; buttered popcorn, by 9%; and the combined scent of lavender and pumpkin pie, a whopping 40%."

5. Get rid of wrinkles

The researcher: Leslie Baumann, MD, professor of dermatology and director of the Cosmetic Medicine and Research Institute, University of Miami

The lesson: You can reduce wrinkles. "All of these things may help reduce wrinkles when used regularly: daily sunscreen; topical retinoids like Retin-A; and antioxidants like green tea, vitamin C, and coenzyme Q10, both orally and topically. Your dermatologist can recommend the best dosage of each. Stick with them, as changes don't happen overnight."

Mass-market products are often better than expensive boutique brands. "Mass lines can afford more research and development—they make more money. Among the best: Unilever (which does Dove and Ponds), L'Oréal (Vichy and La Roche-Posay), and Johnson & Johnson (maker of Neutrogena and Aveeno, which has its own research institute). We did a big study for one of the companies and found that 80% of women who followed a skin care regimen with mass-market products showed fewer wrinkles and healthier skin than when they used pricier lines."

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