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

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.

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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

10

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.

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.

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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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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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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