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Think you know your body? Bet you didn’t know about these crazy things it can do
Did you know? Your brain gobbles up 20% of your body’s energy
The human body is a miraculous thing, capable of feats you may think reserved only for superheroes or man-made machines. But the following surprising scenarios may be taking place in your body at this very moment.
IMAGE: Flickr / mcfarlandmo
The highest recorded speed of a human sneeze is 165 km per hour.
No wonder your mother taught you to cover your mouth when you sneeze. With all of those germs travelling at such high speeds, you could unknowingly splatter a whole room with what ails you.
IMAGE: Flickr / jonnyhunter
Your heart will beat nearly 3 billion times if you live the average life span of about 70 years.
That’s a lot of work for one little muscle that’s roughly the size of a fist for children and two fists for adults.
IMAGE: Flickr / hulagway
Smiling is easier than frowning. It takes about 50% of the muscles to smile than to frown.
So make life easier and smile. It’ll also induce your brain to produce hormones that make you feel happy (even if you’re faking it).
IMAGE: Flickr / benangel218
Skip the antibacterial soap. Your skin produces antibacterial chemicals to keep germs at bay.
Not only does your skin support the immune system by acting as a physical barrier, it produces antimicrobial peptides that protect the body from infection.
IMAGE: Flickr / alanberning
Your body manufactures two to six cups of saliva each day.
Over the course of an average lifetime, that’s enough spit to fill two standard backyard pools.
IMAGE: Flickr / athomeinscottsdale
Your lungs need a lot of breathing room. The total surface area of the lungs is approximately equal to the size of a tennis court.
How could that much volume be contained in such a small package? With 300 million alveoli (little cavities) in each lung.
IMAGE: Flickr / chipgriffin
Every person has a unique tongue print – just like their fingerprints.
But don’t count on giving a tongue print next time you’re brought in for questioning. Aside from the fact that a tongue image database does not exist, getting subjects to stick out their tongue just right to capture the 3D image is much more difficult than pressing inked finger to paper.
IMAGE: Flickr / leah8691
Your stomach produces hydrochloric acid, a corrosive material that’s strong enough to cause severe burns, and which is used as an industrial chemical reagent.
This acid is necessary to digest food, and luckily the stomach lining protects the rest of the body by producing a chemical buffer as well as a mucus lining.
IMAGE: Flickr / brainblogger
Your brain is an energy hog.
Even though it comprises only 2% of your body weight, the brain gobbles up 20% of your body’s energy. Unlike your muscles or your digestive system, your brain never takes a break – even while you sleep your brain is busy working to “replenish brain processes needed to function normally while awake.”
IMAGE: Flickr / rswatski
Humans have a tail (and some are bigger than others).
In most people the tailbone, or coccyx, is composed of three to five fused vertebrae, less than a few inches long, and generally angled forward making it difficult to feel or see. But in very rare instances that’s not the case – check out these images of humans with visible tails.
IMAGE: Flickr / mdpettitt
The transmission speed of nerve impulses can reach up to 402 km (250 miles) per hour, which comes in handy when you need to make a split-second decision or yank your hand away from a hot element – and all of this is accomplished by chemical messages travelling between neurons (in the case of decision-making) or between neurons and muscle cells (in the case of movement).
It’s also the same speed as the fastest recorded race car.
IMAGE: Flickr / roofless
Your brain is all that stands between you and superhuman strength.
Also known as “hysterical strength”, this phenomenon is what allows small women to lift cars in life or death situations. The brain enables the muscles to overcome their normal capacity and tap into their full potential, in part by stimulating the release of adrenaline – a powerful hormone that slows down non-essential functions like digestion and increases heart and respiration rate, thereby redirecting the body’s energy potential to the muscles.
Catherine Roscoe Barr, BSc Neuroscience, is a Vancouver-based writer, editor, and fitness professional. Before settling on the west coast she lived in Sydney, Toronto, Oregon, Montana, and practically everywhere in Alberta. She can be found jogging with her adorable dog, dining with her fabulous husband or voraciously reading anywhere comfy.