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https://bigthink.com/surprising-science/bill-bryson-the-body

bigthink.com

Anatomical quirks: 10 things you didn't know about your body
In his new book, American-British scholar, Bill Bryson, has written a great user's guide to who we are. The Body: A Guide For Occupants ​provides fascinating lessons in anatomy, neuroscience, physiology, biology, and more. As much as we've come to learn about ourselves, it's still clear there's so much we don't know.

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Overuse of antibiotics

Overuse of antibiotics

Our gut ecosystem is becoming infertile for a multitude of reasons. Overuse fattening up farmed animals, C-sections (in which the baby fails to get a wash of microbes), and our own misuse of antibi...

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Brain Efficiency

Our brain weighs just 2% of our body weight, yet consumes 20% of our energy requirements. Even when not active, it will burn roughly 400 calories every day.

The most efficient brains burn the...

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Balancing Act

Our vestibular system is responsible for balance. A gel is located inside our ears and tells our brain if we are going right or left.

When we spin in a circle, the gel keeps moving when we s...

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Inner Pharmacy

Our saliva produces a natural painkiller, opiorphin. It is six times more potent than morphine, but we produce minimal amounts of it. It is an essential biological feature that helps us manage pain...

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Feeling Pain

Only our brain — an organ that itself cannot feel pain — can feel pain. Headaches are not even our brain hurting.

There is not much difference between physical and emotional pain. Both can be...

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Younger is Not Better

Children go through puberty sooner due to improved nutrition. However, young girls are now menstruating as early as seven. There is also a known link between excess estrogen and cancer later in lif...

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Allergies

10% - 40% of the world's populations suffer an allergy to something. The richer the nation, the more allergies its citizens have.

Babies born through a C-section are 8 times more likely to...

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Too Much Food

In 1915, an average American spent half of their weekly income on food.

Today, an average American spends 6 %, yet eating more than ever, mostly processed foods that contain added sugars.

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Weight Isn't Everything

Nearly 40% of people who were once very fit got ill with diabetes, chronic hypertension, or cardiovascular disease.

Nearly 20% of people who are severely overweight live to a good old age wi...

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Health Myths

  • MSG is not poisonous and an essential component of the taste sensation, umami. 
  • Men taking testosterone supplements are more likely to cause harm. The supplements increase their r...

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Western vs. Mediterranean diet

Western vs. Mediterranean diet

Western diet, typically high in animal fat and protein and low in fibre, increases the risk of cancer. The Mediterranean diet is high in fibre and low in red meat and has be...

Probiotics

There has been a lot of hype around the health benefits of prebiotics and probiotics in recent years, but while they're increasingly used in treatments including inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, several reviews suggest there needs to be further research on which strains and dosages are effective. Recent studies have found some people are even immune to probiotics.

Gut microbiota

Gut microbiota has a major role to play in the health and function of the GI tract, with evidence that conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) often coincide with altered microbiota. But it also plays a much wider role in our health, and this is largely determined in the first few years of life.

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Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotic resistance

Antibiotics may lose their ability to treat bacterial infections.

Scientists have been warning us about the alarming rise in drug-resistant bacteria, but it can be curbed.

Penicillin

  • Penicillin was the first widely-used antibiotic. It was discovered in 1928 by Alexander Fleming, a bacteriologist.
  • He noticed that the staph cells he'd been studying in a petri dish had died, and an unusual mold was growing in it.
  • The mould was purified and tested in 1940, and later mass-produced.
  • By 1943, the US was supplying all the Allied forces with this miracle drug, which gave them an advantage in treating injuries.

Existing antibiotics found in the dirt

  • An agriculture student-turned-microbiologist, Selman Waksman, tested 10,000 soil samples over the years.
  • In 1943, he identified streptomycin, a broad-spectrum antibiotic effective against tuberculosis.
  • Drug companies caught on to it, and commissioned pilots, explorers, and foreign correspondents sent back soil samples as they traveled, collecting dozens of new antibiotics.
  • By 1970, researchers found themselves discovering the same molecules over and over.

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Drink 8 Glasses of Water a Day

Everyone has a different requirement for water. Temperature, humidity, size, age, gender and activity have an influence on your fluid needs.

Instead, drink when you are thirsty.

Eggs Harm Your Heart

Eggs have a lot of cholesterol compared to other foods. Although cholesterol in the blood is strongly related to heart disease, eating cholesterol is weakly associated with raising the cholesterol levels in your blood.

Eggs have other heart-protecting properties and eating it probably won't harm your heart.

Cancer or Alzheimer’s From Antiperspirant

  • A chain email in the 1990s was responsible for the false belief that antiperspirant was raising the risk of breast cancer. 
  • When researchers found higher ratios of aluminum in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, aluminum in antiperspirant was suspect. But it seems aluminum in antiperspirant is hardly absorbed by your skin.

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Everybody Dreams

Adults and babies alike dream for around two hours per night—even those of us who claim not to. 

Researchers have found that people us...

You Forget Most of Your Dreams

According to one theory about why dreams so difficult to remember, the changes in the brain that occur during sleep do not support the information processing and storage needed for memory formation to take place.

Not All Dreams Are in Color

While most people report dreaming in color, there is a small percentage of people who claim to only dream in black and white. 

In studies where dreamers have been awakened and asked to select colors from a chart that match those in their dreams, soft pastel colors are those most frequently chosen.

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Community Is Vital

Loneliness is not a problem in traditional societies. For 99% of human existence, we lived in small tribes. We were constantly surrounded by family and friends. 

Research links loneli...

"Mens sana in corpore sano"

Having a healthy body is essential to having a sound mind. Exercising is a habit that’s been shown to lead people to create other, often unrelated, good habits. Exercising is also a proven way to improve the rate of learning.

"Know Thyself"

Knowing yourself allows you to seize opportunities and make better decisions as well as know what you and others should expect from you and how to counteract your personal flaws.

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The Second Brain In Our Gut

The brain and the gut are linked and in constant communication, and about 100 million nerve cells reside in the gut.

Gut bacteria produce dopamine and similar neurotransmitters that are c...

Take Care Of Your Gut

Exposure and consumption of good bacteria are essential for a balanced brain, as it reduces inflammation and makes us more resilient to depressive states and trauma.

These new findings point towards better ways of treatment for psychiatric disorders. It is essential to take care of your gut bacteria for better mental health and a sharper brain.

Skipping Breakfast

Researchers say breakfast doesn't kickstart the metabolism and may not be the most important meal of the day. Different studies have found that skipping breakfast doesn’t lead to weight increase an...

"Hot" Workouts

They won't really help you lose weight. Research suggests regularly sleeping in colder temperatures may be optimal for weight loss as they stimulate the production of brown fat, the "good" fat. Brown fat keeps us warm by burning through "bad" fat stores.

Turn down the heat at night. You'll trim your belly and your heating bills.

Tongue-Scorching Peppers

Hot sauce can boost your metabolism. But research suggests that more-palatable, mild peppers may have the same calorie-burning potential.

Pack your salads and stir-fry with sweet peppers-including bell peppers, pimentos, rellenos, and sweet banana peppers. They're just as effective as the hot stuff.

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Obesity: The Facts

  • According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 80 %of adults and about one-third of children now meet the clinical definition of overweight or obese. More Americans live w...

Diets and Health

For half a century, doctors and researchers have known two things that could have improved, or saved, millions of lives:

  • Diets do not work. Not just paleo or Atkins or Weight Watchers or Goop, but all diets.
  • Being fat does not necessarily mean being unhealthy.

About Diets

  • A 2016 study that followed participants for an average of 19 years found that unfit skinny people were twice as likely to get diabetes as fat people, who were relatively fit.
  • Americans spend more on dieting every year than on video games or movies.

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Mindfulness in major religions

Instructions for mindfulness meditations have been found in ancient texts of nearly every major religion, but it's Buddhism that exemplifies best mindfulness meditation: it...

Meditation and healthcare

Meditation has drifted from its religious connections and has been adopted by psychologists, healthcare professionals and other secular organizations as an effective way to deal with the stress and illnesses of the modern world.

3 core components of meditation:

  • Awareness: Focus on developing awareness. 
  • Non-Judgement: Witnessing an experience or sensation without attachment or criticism.
  • Peace: Though your feelings are valuable, mindfulness teaches you how to find serenity despite them.

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Organic junk food is still junk food

Organic junk food is still junk food

From a macronutrient perspective, organic junk foods are often identical to their conventional counterparts. 

They tend to be equally high in sugar and low in pro...

Organic isn't always healthy

Many organic brands tend to cater to a health-conscious crowd, meaning they’ll often use less processing or healthier ingredients to appeal to their consumers. But the organic label alone does not guarantee this.

The “health halo” effect

It refers to a scientifically researched phenomenon in which certain claims, such as “low fat” or “made with organic ingredients” can lead us to assume a food is healthier or lower in calories. 

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