11 Things You Didn't Know About Your Body!

Posted Jan 08, by Jose Duarte [+]

It’s scientifically proven that splashing cold water into your face helps you calm down!

Most of us probably do it every morning, just to freshen up or to snap out of that weird dream. It’s called “Mammalian Diving Reflex”. Of course this is not just about morning routines, as it also happens when you dive underwater.

The process may seem quick, but during those few seconds three changes occur in the body:

  • First, your heart rate slows down up to 25 percent.
  • Second, the blood flow to the limbs are reduced, just to make sure the brain and the heart receive enough oxygen.
  • Third, there is a blood shift, but this only occurs during very deep dives. This allows the blood plasma and water to pass through organs to protect them against the increasing pressure.

Now that you know this actually works, you could try it before a business meeting, or simply a date. Even by using a cold wet towel, you can activate  this reflex in order to calm your nerves.

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You have between 2 and 5 pounds of bacteria in your body!

According to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) of Maryland, every person hosts 2-5 pounds of live bacteria inside. Of course when the word “bacteria” is mentioned, you instantly think of little bastards that cause illnesses like cholera, typhoid, or scarlet fever. However, some of them are actually helpful, and we even depend on them for our survival.

For instance, a type of bacteria found in yogurt (lactobacili) is proven to be useful for easing diarrhea caused by antibiotics. In fact, the largest population of bacteria in our bodies is found in the intestines. You might quit cleaning yourself with that soap from head to toe. Or you can simply eat more yogurt. If you’re going to have them anyway, you can at least keep the good ones at balance.

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There's a condition that makes your scalp look like a brain!

Check out the pic to the right. It's from a Brazilian man who developed an extremely rare condition called cutis verticis gyrata. The condition causes the subject's scalp to thicken and develop very distinct ridges and ruts. 

Although it's aesthetically strange, the condition does not have any health implications. The condition is most prevalent in men and can be alleviated somewhat via surgery. This man's condition was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. 

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The human eye has around 576 megapixels!

 

The average human retina has five million cone receptors on it and 100 million rods that detect monochrome contrast. The cone receptors are responsible for color vision and the rods are play an important role in the sharpness of the image you see.

Both your eyes are continually flicking around to cover a much larger area than your field of vision and the composite image is translated in your brain. It’s similar to stitching together a panoramic photo. In good lighting you can distinguish two fine lines if they’re separated by at least 0.6 arc-minutes.

That would give you an equivalent pixel-size of 0.3 arc-minutes. All in all, the human eye has about 576 megapixels. Women have more cones than men do, and therefore see colors brighter than their male counterparts. However, due to this, men can see better at night.

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Laughing when you get tickled is a panic response. That's why you can't tickle yourself!

Scientists have found that the feeling we get when someone tickles us is a panic response. To what though? Not tickle monsters, but things that can seriously harm you like spiders and bugs. 

When it comes to people tickling us, however, it's the fear and unease of someone possibly hurting you that causes you to laugh. However, when you touch your own ticklish spots, the brain is prepared for it and doesn't respond with panic.

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Needing to pee improves impulse control!

So, you’re sitting with your family making a big decision and realize you have to go to the bathroom. The logical thing to do would be to excuse yourself and have a meeting with the porcelain god, and then return to make the decision. 

Research suggests that holding your pee can actually help control impulses and allow you to make better and clear headed decisions. It is interesting, because you’d think the opposite would be true. Just like we know not to buy groceries hungry, because we’ll get a lot of junk we don’t need. 

Researchers had subjects drink a ton of water and then complete several decision making tests. They found that the bigger the urge to use the restroom, the better the subject was able to concentrate and control their impulses. The next time you are trying to make a big decision, try doing it while having to pee. 

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The chills you get when listening to music are caused by the release of dopamine in your body.

Scientists recruited people who reliably get shivers when listening to an affective score. The chills are a consistent, in the moment measure of pleasure than asking how test subjects felt. Scientists used brain-imaging techniques that revealed that the music caused dopamine peaks coupled with emotional arousal. 

The release of dopamine during music explains why such a high value is put on it and why music can manipulate our emotions. The effect that music has on us is quite comparable to other pleasures. Some examples are the joy of eating food, sex, and other tangible rewards. 

Music can quite literally move us or the chemicals in our brains. The fact that music can really give us a rush like sex does is incredible. Well, the sensation is released from the same part of the brain at least. 

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Many people are genetically predisposed to hate cilantro.

If you’ve got a particular dislike for cilantro, it looks like you now have something to blame it on besides a picky taste in food- your DNA. You wouldn’t be alone in your dislike of cilantro either. Even Julia Child hated it. So how do genetics determine your love or hate of cilantro? Here's how researchers found this out.  

To verify that genetics play a role, neuroscientist Charles J. Wysocki determined that identical twins typically have the same feelings on the leaf. In school, did your Biology or Anatomy teacher ever have you do a genetics lab where you see if you can smell or taste certain things? That same principle is what affects how much people like cilantro. 

Wysocki essentially heated up some cilantro. First, the “soapy” smell that people hate came out. After, the pleasant “herb” smell came out, but only those who liked cilantro could smell it. Wysocki hypothesizes that it’s because of either a mutated gene or a missing receptor gene, like in the case of people who can’t smell flowers. 

Though he says it’s still speculative, the idea that a dislike of cilantro is something to blame on genetics should be good news for those chastised for it. So the next time someone raises an eyebrow at your dislike of cilantro, you can feel free to bust out Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way.” 

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There is a “second brain” in your gut.

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “I’ve got a gut feeling about this,” if you’ve felt butterflies in your stomach, or even if you’ve felt something in your gut when you’ve just received horrible news, this should shed a whole new light. The neural tissue in the gut, filled with neurotransmitters, partly determines the mental state. 

Technically known as the enteric nervous system, this “second brain” is made up of 100 million neurons in the lining of the gut, from esophagus to anus. It even has more neurons than the spinal cord. These neurons are what allow us to get that feeling of butterflies, or the feeling associated with terrible news. 

Though the “second brain” doesn’t control thoughts on logic, philosophy, etc., it does have its own senses and controls behavior apart from the brain (namely digestion). It’s even thought that the “second brain” sends messages to the brain on emotional well being. 

Many think this ties into a more direct link to the food you eat having effects on your mood. Scientists also believe this “second brain” plays a role in certain diseases. The entire study which elaborates on the topic can be read here 

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There’s a scientific explanation for why the car trip home feels shorter than the car trip away.

This is something you might not have noticed until you’ve thought about it. If you’ve ever gone on a trip to the beach/lake, for example, you might have realized that the trip home didn’t feel as long as the trip there. 

Like many, you might be chalking up the perceived longer wait to get there to your high expectations, and because that you look forward to it and think about it so much the wait seems longer. 

If so, you likely also assumed that it was simply being tired from the activities and lack of the same kind of anticipation that made the trip home feel shorter. While those are theoretically true, there is something else that plays a much bigger role in the perceived time difference. 

It has to do with a bias in time perception due to how we spatially encode destinations. In short, because home is very familiar, it has a rich mental representation. That makes home feel like a larger geographical area than the less mentally familiar destination. This presents a sort of skewered perception in feelings of trip progress. 

The familiarity makes arriving in areas close to the home feel like the destination has already been reached. The lack of familiarity (on the same level) with the destination when leaving home leaves the mind to perceive “arrival” only when sitting at the physical spot. 

But of course the most efficient way to shorten the amount of time perceived on a trip is simply falling asleep in the car. Unless you’re driving. 

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Human hair pound to pound is as strong as Kevlar.

Were you one of those obnoxious kids who during story time always said; “It’s impossible for Rapunzel to pull up some guy with just her hair.” Well, turns out that the Brothers Grimm might've done some of their research. 

Matt Spring, of Science Blogs, calculated how much weight Rapunzel’s hair would be able to support if you were to be climbed up a tower. He concluded that if the prince weighed a measly 63 lb, he would be able to climb human hair up a 90-foot tower. This of course, doesn't take into account that the weight of the hair and the prince would probably snap Rapunzel's neck pretty easily.

It's estimated that 150,000 strands of hair (estimate for an entire human head of hair) to support 2 full-grown elephants (2 tons). 

Scientists believe that hair evolved for different reasons; for example, curly hair kept people cool in warm climates while straight care kept them warm in cool climates. Shiny and healthy hair is also an outward sign of health, making others see the person as an acceptable mate for the purpose of producing healthy offspring. 

Maybe that’s another reason why that prince was willing to starve himself, and then risk his life to be with Rapunzel. 

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