The human body is an amazing machine. Thousands of complex processes go on without your notice and work together to make your machine function. While you will never understand everything that makes your body work, there are some interesting facts that are fun to learn. You might even learn things that help you become healthier.
You might not think of your feet as very interesting, but they are pretty unique. Did you know, for example, that your feet contain a quarter of your body’s bones? Together, that’s 52 bones, for those of you who are trying to calculate. Your feet also contain over 200 muscles, joints, and ligaments.
You probably already know this, but feet sweat. A lot. Your feet can produce a cup of sweat a day! And if you struggle with smelly feet, you should know that your sweat itself doesn’t smell, it’s the bacteria on your skin that makes odour.
Shoes can affect the health of your feet, so choose carefully. Because your feet are shock absorbers that act like springs, selecting the proper shoes for your activities and foot shape can impact your health. You should make sure to learn about shoes and how they affect your feet before purchasing them.
Years ago, shoe companies and other experts claimed that babies and toddlers needed to wear shoes so their feet would form properly. Common sense said otherwise, since for thousands of years our ancestors’ feet were formed without any help. Now, experts mostly agree that going barefoot for as long as possible allows children’s soft bones and cartilage to develop naturally. The bones in your feet don’t finish hardening until you are around 20 years old.
Your bones are pretty amazing. They are so strong they outperform steel in tests. They bear more weight and pressure than steel of the same size. And, of course, steel can’t repair itself when it is broken! Bones also regrow themselves, like the rest of your body, one cell at a time. It takes about 10 years for you to grow a completely new skeleton.
The smallest bone in your body is in your ear, while the largest is your femur. Your femur is also the strongest bone in your body and can support the up to 30 times the weight of a human!
You probably know that babies have more bones than adults, but did you also know that they have so many more bones that you will lose about a third of your bones by the time you are a young adult? Your last bone to fuse is your collar bone, which doesn’t happen until around age 25!
Because you are constantly subjected to the pressures of gravity, your body slowly compresses throughout the day, making you around a centimetre taller in the morning than at night. This compression happens in the joints, the areas between the bones where soft connective tissue lies. And most interesting- astronauts are as much as 2 inches taller in the zero-gravity environment of space than they are on earth!
Your Hair and Nails
Your human hair is amazing. You actually have more hair on your body than a chimpanzee! And your hair is very, very strong. If it was all taken together, the hairs on an average person’s head could lift around 12 tons! That is enough to lift two elephants.
Your hair also has the strange ability to keep a record of your lifestyle. This is why you can use hair to evaluate drug use over time. Things like what you eat and how well you sleep can also be recorded in your hair as it grows. Your hair can even help the environment by absorbing ozone. Weirdly enough, this seems to happen more with dirty hair, so now you have an excuse to skip washing for a day or two!
Hair and fingernails are both mostly made of protein. Studies have shown that fingernails and toenails are actually growing faster now than they used to. Scientists think this is because of our high-protein diet. However, toenails grow much slower than fingernails, as you have probably already noticed.
Your intestines are a huge part of your body-literally. If you laid your small intestine out straight, it would be about four times your height! Your stomach is also amazing, and it is filled with very strong acid. In fact, stomach acid can eat away at razor blades and other metal items! How does your stomach acid avoid eating away at your stomach, as well? It is protected by a thick layer of mucus.
As scientists and doctors learn more about the body’s digestive system and the gut, they learn how interconnected the whole body is. We didn’t use to know that our immunity was closely connected to how healthy our gut is, or that the vast number of bacteria and other microbes in our gut are so important to us.
Your gut is also lined with neurons similar to the ones in your brain, and they are intricate and important. The gut even has reflexes and senses that are connected to the rest of your body’s nervous system. Does this mean your gut can think for itself? Not really, but it does help the rest of your body.