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Anatomical quirks: 10 things you didn't know about your body

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 stop, resulting in disorientation. When the loss of balance is severe, the brain interprets it as poisoning. That is why the loss of balance can result in nausea.

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Anatomical quirks: 10 things you didn't know about your body

Anatomical quirks: 10 things you didn't know about your body

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

bigthink.com

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Key Ideas

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 antibiotics all seem to contribute.

When Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin, he also warned about the dangers of microbes growing resistant to antibiotics. Almost three-quarters of the 40 million antibiotic prescriptions written each year in the United States are for conditions that cannot be cured with antibiotics.

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 least calories. Efficient brains can save a task quickly and then go into a kind of standby mode.

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.

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 reduced through a variety of means, like pleasant aromas or music. In many ways, we feel the pain we expect to feel.

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 life. That means you solve one problem like malnutrition but then another problem may appear.

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 develop allergies, diabetes, asthma, celiac disease, and obesity.

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.

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 without ever doing anything about it.

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 risk of a heart attack or stroke.
  • 10 000 steps a day: This myth is based on a single study done in Japan in the 1960s.
  • Losing body heat through your head: Body heat is evenly distributed. You only lose heat through your head if it is exposed.

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Fiber gap

Only 5 percent of people in the US meet the Institute of Medicine’s recommended daily target of 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. That amounts to a population-wide deficiency.

Benefits of a fiber-rich diet

Eating a fiber-rich diet is associated with better gastrointestinal health and a reduced risk of heart attacks, strokes, high cholesterol, obesity, type 2 diabetes, even some cancers. Fiber slows the absorption of glucose — which evens out our blood sugar levels — and also lowers cholesterol and inflammation.

Fiber doesn’t just help us poop better — it also nourishes our gut microbiome.

Processed foods and fiber

Instead of munching on fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, and seeds, more than half of the calories Americans consume come from ultra-processed foods. On any given day, nearly 40 percent of Americans eat fast food. These prepared and processed meals tend to be low in fiber, or even fiber free. 

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Western vs. Mediterranean diet
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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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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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