As humans, we know our bodies can be pretty wondrous things. For half of us, they can literally make other people (a mini version, but still). They can take a 12 oz. steak and magically — and deliciously — make it disappear. They also have these neat things called arms, that, when wrapped around another person in a hug, can prompt our bodies to produce the “love hormoneoxytocin
Many of us spend a lot of time to taking care of our bodies by eating right, exercising, and even grooming enough to put a certain K-named reality star to shame. But while these habits can make you beam with pride, when we get right down to it, they can’t erase the fact that our bodies are actually really pretty gross. It’s an undeniable fact.
So let’s break down the 17 different ways our bodies are quite freaky, using a top-down approach. Warning: if you’re about to start eating, you might want to put it off until you’re finished this article…
Your Hair Is Falling Out
For some of us, our hair is intrinsically linked to our personal identity, and we spend a lot of time and money caring for its every need (real or imagined). But the fact is, even with all that TLC, 60-100 strands of hair fall out of our heads every day, and there’s nothing we can do about it.
…But At Least It’s Super Strong
The grossest part is when you try — and fail — to pull that wet, slimy gunk out of your shower drain. (Those with long hair, can I hear a “heck yeah!”) Here’s the thing: your hair is mostly protein, i.e. a bunch of amino acids linked together which form a crazy-strong chain called keratin. The bonds between these amino acids are so hard to break that sometimes harsh chemicals, like those found in pipe-cleaning products and hair depilatories, need to be called in to get the job done. Uh, that’s strong.
There Are Mites Living in Your Eyelashes
One of the latest beauty treatments to appear in North America in the last few years are eyelash extensions — because, why not? Long eyelashes supposedly = beauty + youth – at least, until you learn about the creatures that like to live in those luscious lashes.
Eyelashes are home to parasitic mites called Demodex folliculorum, which like to burrow deep into the hair follicle. These microscopic beasts live off dead skin cells, dirt, and oil –and they’re extra fond of old makeup. What’s creepier is 95% of the population has them and there’s little we can do about it. Gag.
You Have aLotof Spit
Did any of you start to drool a little with the aforementioned reference to the disappearing 12 oz. steak? That stuff in your mouth is called saliva, and not only is it essential for making eating easier, but it’s needed to take care of our overall oral health. To get the job sufficiently done, we produce two to four pints of it every day! That’s a lot of spit.
Spit Is More Than Just Spit
Here’s another cool(?) factoid: in addition to enzymes for food digestion, your saliva contains bacteria, proteins and minerals, as well as pieces of your body, i.e. the cells that slough off from the inside of your mouth. Albeit gross, this is how your saliva can be used to do a DNA test.
You Have a Unique Tongueprint
Before we leave the mouth, there are two other weird things which need mentioning. First off, go grab a mirror. Next, stick out your tongue and have a good look at it. Science has found that not only the shape, but also the texture of the surface of our tongue is unique in each one of us.
You Might Have Tonsil Stones
And while you’re staring at your tongue, look way back, far enough to see your tonsils. You might notice weird, white chunks of something that look like small pebbles in there. These are called tonsil stones (tonsilloliths), and they’re a hardened accumulation of food particles, dead skin cells, bacteria and mucous. If that’s not gross enough, they’re very common and they also smell terrible. You’re welcome.
Your Body Is Full of Bacteria
Did you know that your body is FULL of bacteria? Something like 40 trillion of them? What’s creepier is that there are ten times more bacterial cells in your body than human and one study found 1,400 different types of bacteria live in our belly buttons alone!
…But They’re Actually Really Important to Your Health
Before you go and jump in a bath of bleach, you should know that many of these bacteria, also known as our microbiome, are essential to our health. New areas of scientific research are showing that bacteria in our bodies can have an effect on our mood and how we cope with stress, and are a key producer of the feel-good neurotransmitter serotonin.
You Flush a Lot of Bacteria Down the Toilet
The largest concentration of bacteria can be found in our gut, where they play many roles, such as producing food-digesting enzymes and taking care of our overall immunity. That being said, we lose around 3 trillion every time we poop, so keep up with your fibre intake because they love the stuff!
Gas Is More Interesting Than You Think
Speaking of fibre, humans fart on average 14 times per day (although many of us try to hide this fact). A toot is composed of varying types of gases. Although the concentrations will change depending on what, and how quickly, we eat, our farts generally contain a mix of methane, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen, oxygen, ammonia and carbon dioxide. It’s the ratio of these gases to one another which can be blamed on the lovely aroma associated with flatulence…
Urine (Yes, That Means Yours) Can Be Used to Soften Leather
While we’re on the topic of “eliminating” things…if you ever need to soften your new leather shoes, you can save up and use your urine! Think of the money you can pocket by not needing to buy that spray from the shoe repair person! There’s a lot of documentation showing that throughout history, urine had a variety of uses in the textile industries because it contains ammonia.
…It Can Also Brighten Those Pearly Whites
If you’re good in the clothing and leather departments, urine can also be used to brighten your teeth. Move over, whitening strips!
Your Ovaries Can Grow Teeth
Before we leave the tummy region, possibly the creepiest fact of all is that human gonads, i.e. the main organs of our reproductive systems, can grow cysts called “teratomas.” These are found more often in women’s ovaries, but can be found in the testes as well. These cysts are made up of germ cells and have the capacity to grow skin, hair, fat and TEETH! If you choose to click on the above link, consider yourself warned. The images are hard to un-see.
You Have Toe Jam
Not that there aren’t weird facts about our legs, but let’s jump on down to our feet and check out the goop that lives in between our toes. This matter is often lovingly referred to as “toe jam” and is a key contributor to the beautiful foot aroma common to most humans. But what exactly is it made of, you ask?
Well, so far in this article we have learned our tonsils hold stones of junk and our belly buttons are home to a couple thousand bacteria. Therefore, in all likelihood, you have guessed toe jam is going to be another lovely concoction of things which could be considered nightmare-inducing. And you would be right.
Toes like to collect sock lint, bacteria and fungus (hello, athlete’s foot!), body oils and dirt. If you don’t clean your feet frequently, you could even get skin parasites living in there. Lesson learned: the soap that drips down from the rest of your body in the shower is NOT enough to rid your body of toe jam. Give your hamstrings a stretch and bend down to give your feet a scrub.
You’re a Mucus Factory
On average, our bodies produce 1.5L (that’s 6.3 cups) of mucus a DAY. Offer up that nugget of wisdom the next time you’re trying to impress your boss at the office party and you’ve got yourself a raise, guaranteed!
Last, but not least, you shed 30,000 to 40,000 skin cells every hour, and a million in total every day. They land everywhere you are: your kitchen, your bedding, your car. Guess what — that dust over there on your coffee table? Some of that contains parts of you. Yum.
Lauren Brown MSc. WWHP, is a certified Health & Wellness Coach who loves teaching about all facets of health and wellbeing. Much of her time is spent in workplaces, helping empower employees to get healthy through the wellness programming initiatives and educational sessions she delivers. Please see www.inspiringhealth.ca for more information.