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14 Fascinating Facts About the Human Body

human body facts

The human body is a living miracle. Every time you blink or make the slightest of movements, your body performs a miracle. And for a person to better appreciate his body, it becomes necessary to study it and be aware of what it does. To begin, here are 10 fascinating facts about the human body.

1. If a pregnant mother suffers organ damage during the pregnancy, the fetus can send stem cells that can cross blood-brain and placental barriers and help repair the damage.

Stem cell theory
3d rendered medically accurate illustration of the fetus. Image credit: Shutterstock

Stem cells are not only important in the development of the fetus but can also save the mother. A 2015 study in the Circulation Research Center discovered that if a pregnant mother suffers organ damage, the fetus can send stem cells to help repair the damage.

Though genetically distinct, the fetal stem cells can continue to live in the mother’s body even after birth. These cells can incorporate into the mother’s organs if they suffer any damage.

(1, 2)

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2. Our mouth produces more saliva before we vomit to protect our teeth from erosion. The acidity in vomit is enough to wear them down.

More saliva before vomit.
Women vomiting. Image credit: Shutterstock

The constant stream of saliva filling our mouth when we are about to throw up is actually our body’s way of protecting the upper digestive tract. Our vomit consists of stomach acid and food. Stomach acid has a pH of around 1.5 to 3.5.

Such a strong acid can burn and damage our esophagus, mouth, and teeth. When we throw up, our upper digestive system is exposed to the acid. To neutralize it, our body produces tons of saliva.

As our saliva has basic with a pH slightly above 7, so it significantly reduces the erosive effect of the acid. So, we drool when we are about to vomit. (1, 2)

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3. Gastrocolic reflex causes our body to make room for more food and ramp up colon activity when we eat by taking cues from stomach stretching and digestion. This makes you want to poop after a meal.

Gastrocolic reflex
Anatomy of the human body with the digestive system, 3d illustration. Image credit: Shutterstock

Our adult digestive system is fairly long, spanning up to 30 feet (over nine meters) in length in adults. Owing to the long length, the whole digestion process, from swallowing to pooping, can take about 12 to 48 hours.

Yet, sometimes we feel the urge to poop immediately after a meal. This is caused by what is known as “gastrocolic reflex.” When your body senses stomach stretching and digestion, it takes it as a signal to increase colon activity. And to make space for more food, the reflex makes you want to poop.

The gastrocolic reflex is particularly strong in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Symptoms like diarrhea and an urgent need to defecate can be embarrassing and affect the quality of life of such individuals. (1, 2)

4. Unlike adults, babies can drink and breathe at the same time. For the first three months of life, the larynx sits up high in the nasal cavity, acting as a little snorkel.

Larynx
The infant larynx varies in shape compared with that of adults. Image credit: researchgate

The complexity of human speech is a product of the combination of human intelligence and physical evolution. A crucial part of this process was the larynx “drop” about 300,000 years ago.

We are born with the larynx sitting up high in the nasal cavity, so as babies, we can drink and breathe at the same time. For the first three months of life, our larynx acts like a little snorkel. 

Later, the larynx “drops” much lower in the throat, making choking easier but speech possible. No other animal has a larynx low enough to produce sounds as complex as our ancient ancestors did and as we do today. (source)

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5. A mutation in the LRP5 gene can cause the bone density to be eight times higher than the average, filling life with inconveniences such as sinking like a rock when trying to swim or triumphs like walking away from automobile accidents without a single fracture. 

LRP5
High bone density due to a mutation in LDL-Receptor-Related protein 5. Image credit: nejm

The LPR5 gene is responsible for growth and development. Its mutation can significantly increase our bone density. 

Such people are known for their deep and wide jaw and bony growth on the palate

A different mutation in the same gene can cause similar scales of low bone density leading to osteoporosis. This causes the bones to be brittle and break easily and a loss of height.

Researchers are working on medications that mimic the high-density mutation to promote increased bone density. (1, 2)

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6. Contrary to popular belief, the white spots on nails are not an indicator of deficiency or excess of calcium and zinc or other vitamins in the diet. In fact, they are commonly caused by minor injuries to the base of the nails.

White spots on nails
White spots on nails. Image credit: Shutterstock

As per popular belief, white spots on nails are a sign of zinc or calcium deficiencies. This is not true. These spots are called “leukonychia” and are commonly caused by either an allergic reaction to things like nail polish and nail hardeners or by minor injuries on the base of the nails. These minor injuries are usually caused by manicures, nail-biting, and small footwear.

Very rarely are these milky spots an indication of zinc deficiency, liver cirrhosis, or anemia. Mostly, leukonychia is harmless and grows out with nails. (1, 2)

7. When electrocuted, people are sometimes thrown far distances. This is caused by the sudden and violent muscle contractions and not the result of the shock. 

Electrocuted
The human body is a good conductor of electricity and muscles are stimulated by electricity. Image credit: Shutterstock

The human body is a good conductor of electricity and muscles are stimulated by electricity. The extent of stimulation depends on the type of muscle and the intensity of the current. When a low current of 0.25 milliamperes enters our body, we just feel a buzzing or tingling sensation. It is harmless. 

However, the effect is very different when a high-intensity current, above 10 mA, enters the body and into the extensor muscles, it causes a violent spasm. And, if it travels through the hip extensors, the person may be flung some meters away. (source)

Also read: 10 of the Most Disturbing Human Experiments in History

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