The body and its many amazing functions leave us with no shortage of weird and wacky facts to think about. In the spirit of all things spooky, we’ve rounded up some spooktacular health facts that are both scary and fun.
Whether you’re out to improve your health prowess, impress (or gross out) your family and friends, or get a jump start for trivia night—there’s something here for you!
1. You Have Bugs in Your Gut
Really, you do! But that’s not a bad thing. Tiny microbes in your stomach and digestive tract help you digest food, influence immune health and more.1 Some researchers estimate that the average person has 1 to 2 pounds of bacteria living in their gut all the time.1
The trick is to make sure the good bacteria outweighs the bad, which you can do with a healthy, balanced diet and by taking a good probiotic supplement and prebiotic fiber. Learn more about probiotics and how they benefit your health in Trust Your Gut Health: Build a Healthier Gut with Probiotics.
2. Bacteria Live in Your Mouth, Too
The human mouth naturally contains billions of bacteria, and like your gut there are both good and bad types of bacteria living there. The harmful bacteria can contribute to dental health concerns and plaque formation, but other microbes help keep teeth healthy and some of the good guys even secrete substances that fight off bad bacteria.2,3
What can you do to help? Brush your teeth regularly, replace your toothbrush often, and consider a chewable oral probiotic to help maintain microbial balance. Also, drinking green tea may help limit the growth of oral bacteria.4
3. There’s a Type of Body Fat That Actually Burns Calories
Did you know that not all body fat is created equal? We have both brown fat and white fat in our bodies. White fat is the type you’re probably most familiar with. Researchers once thought that only babies have brown fat, but as it turns out, adults have it too.5
Brown fat doesn’t take up as much space, and it’s used for thermogenesis, the production of heat. When brown fat is burned it creates body heat, burning calories in the process.5 People who have more brown fat tend to have lower body-weights. Research is underway to try and identify how to help the body recruit more brown fat cells.5 So far, researchers think exposing your body to cool temperatures may help, and exercise may play a role too.5
Also, not all dietary fat is bad either. Read Be Fat Fluent: Best Fatty Foods for Your Diet to learn more.
4. Your Body Makes Some of its Own Nutrients
We often write about the essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy, but do you know why some nutrients are considered non-essential? The term is a little misleading in this case. You need nutrients that are considered non-essential too, but they are called non-essential because they can be made by the body.
That doesn’t mean you can’t become low in a non-essential nutrient. CoQ10 is a great example. It’s used by every cell in the body, and although the body makes some CoQ10, natural production declines with age, and studies show taking statins can affect CoQ10 production too.6 Experts have linked lower CoQ10 levels with many health concerns, and CoQ10 supplements may help.6
Other examples include amino acids. There are 9 amino acids that are considered essential, and you can get them from complete protein sources like whey protein powder. There are 12 more amino acids that are considered non-essential because your body makes them.7
But just because they aren’t classified as essential doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from getting more. One of those non-essential amino acids, n-acetyl cysteine, is a potent antioxidant that supports liver health, respiratory function and detoxification pathways and it’s needed so the body can replenish glutathione, one of the body’s most important antioxidants.7
5. Your Fingernails Grow Faster During the Summer
As cold weather approaches, this may or may not be great news for you depending on your beauty goals. Some research indicates that cold weather slows down nail growth, and your nails also grow faster during the day than at night.9,10
Nails also tend to be more brittle during winter because of cold, dry air and going in and out of the heat, both of which can reduce moisture levels in your nails. Want to help keep your nails strong during winter months? Moisturize daily with a nature-sourced hair and skin oil like certified organic jojoba oil, and take Real Food Biotin supplements to help strengthen nails.11
6. Some of What You Eat Goes Straight to Your Eyes
The macula is a part of the eye with the highest concentration of photoreceptors. It’s responsible for color perception and sharp vision.12 But the functioning of the macula requires exposing our eyes to a lot of light, including blue light rays from electronic screens. Blue light has shorter, more energetic wavelengths than other types of light, and it can cause eye strain and eye health concerns over time.12
Your body uses substances from the food you eat to help protect your retinas and defend against blue light exposure. In fact, the pigment in your macula is made up of dietary carotenoids, including lutein and zeaxanthin, which help protect photoreceptors.12 If you don’t eat enough of the foods that contain these nutrients, take a supplement like our award-winning Vision Defense Formula. And read Important Facts about Blue Light and Eye Health to learn more.
7. You Get a New Skeleton Every 10 Years
How’s this one for a creepy-fun health fact? You probably didn’t learn about this in science class, but it’s true! Your skeleton is replaced approximately every 10 years.13 You don’t just wake up one day with a whole new skeletal system, of course. It happens slowly over time. But this spooky fun-fact highlights the importance of optimal nutrition to support strong bones at every stage of life.
There are two key factors in healthy bone regeneration. Your body reabsorbs some of your old bone to help make the new bone, and it builds some new bone from scratch. That means your bone strength and density now will affect your bone health down the road, so make sure you are getting enough of the nutrients your bones need every day to stay healthy, including vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium—and get enough daily exercise to support healthy bones too.
8. We Shrink as We Age
Experts say that as early as our 30s, we begin shrinking.14 Between 30 and 70 years of age, men may gradually lose an entire inch of height, and women can lose up to two inches.14 After we turn 80 we may even lose another inch!14
Why do we shrink as we age? Several things are involved including cartilage breakdown, loss of muscle and bone mass.14 We mentioned how to help keep your bones healthy above with daily mineral support and exercise, and you can help support healthy muscles by getting enough complete protein every day. Also, start taking a cartilage-supporting supplement like glucosamine. Learn more in Glucosamine Benefits for Joint Health & Beyond.
9. You’re Taller in the Morning
Do you feel taller when you wake up in the morning than after a long day on your feet? That’s because throughout the course of the day your cartilage can slowly compact, making you 1 to 2 centimeters shorter at night. When you lay down to sleep at night the pressure is eased, and your cartilage expands again overnight.15
Sleep is important for more than just a higher vantage point though. You need at least 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night to support overall wellbeing, including tissue repair, immune health, memory, focus and more.16 Read Zealous about Zzzs: Sleep Benefits & Sleep Hacks for Everyone for tips on getting better shuteye.
10. The Buddy System is Real: Friends Help Us Live Longer
Is this fact more fun than scary? You be the judge! In-depth research shows that people with healthy relationships may have up to a 50% greater likelihood of survival regardless of age, sex or initial health status.17
Healthier relationships may lead to lower stress levels and better physical and mental health. So, the next time you make fun plans with your bestie, don’t even think about canceling to watch Netflix reruns. Follow through and keep those relationships healthy! Check out these Tips for Healthy Relationships for some ideas on maintaining healthy friendships and managing conflicts.
11. Your Skin Makes Hormones
You probably think of your skin mostly as a protective organ for what’s inside. You aren’t wrong, but there’s more. Your skin is actually an endocrine organ. Hormones that are important for functions throughout the body are produced in the skin and released into circulation—including small amounts of androgens and estrogens, and essential vitamin D.18
It’s a little-known fact that vitamin D is actually a hormone. The body makes vitamin D in a chemical reaction after sunlight exposure, but skin can become less efficient at synthesizing vitamin D as we age, putting older people at a higher risk of becoming deficient in vitamin D.19 We also produce less of it in colder months because we aren’t outside as much, and our skin is usually covered when we do go outside. Take a vitamin D supplement to cover your bases, and read Say Hello to the Sunshine Vitamin to learn more about vitamin D foods and benefits.
12. 5 Pounds of Fat Equals the Size of 3 Grapefruit
This may sound like a nonsensical math meme but it’s true. Five pounds of body fat takes up roughly the same amount of space as 3 grapefruits, and five pounds of muscle takes up approximately as much space as 3 tangerines.
If you’re looking to tone up, even 5 pounds of fat loss can make a big difference—hold up a few grapefruits and see for yourself! This also means you can’t necessarily trust the number on the scale to mark progress if you’re following an exercise plan because you could be replacing lost fat with healthy muscle gain.
Check out Be a Lean Mean Body Machine for tips on building lean muscle and boosting metabolism.
13. Your Heart Pumps 2,000 Gallons of Blood a Day
The average person’s heart beats 100,000 times a day to pump 2,000 gallons of blood.20 By the time you’re 70, that’s 2.5 billion heartbeats. Plus, if all the blood vessels in your circulatory system were laid out end-to-end, they’d be 60,000 miles long!20
That’s a lot of ground to cover, and it highlights the importance of keeping this intricate system healthy. To do your part, the American Heart Association recommends getting 150 minutes of exercise per week, which equates to 30 minutes of exercise on 5 days of the week for overall cardiovascular benefits.21 For tips on how to fit more activity in your day read Move More: How to Move More Each Day, and show your heart some love with Swanson’s top heart care supplements.
Scary but Fun Health Facts
Knowing more about how your body works and what it needs to stay healthy gives you a jump start to be your best self. We hope you enjoyed the scary fun health facts above. You may also like 16 Ways to Scare Yourself Every Day and 11 Fall Health Tips.
1 6 Surprising Facts About the Microbes Living in Your Gut. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health-news/strange-six-things-you-didnt-know-about-your-gut-microbes-090713 (Accessed 10/30/20180)
2 Newly discovered microbe keeps teeth healthy. Science News for Students. https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/newly-discovered-microbe-keeps-teeth-healthy (Accessed 10/30/20180)
3 14 Germ Facts About the Human Mouth. Crescent Orthodontics. http://www.crescentorthodontics.com/about-us/blog/102-14-germ-facts-about-the-human-mouth.html (Accessed 10/30/20180)
4 Green tea: A boon for periodontal and general health. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3459493/ (Accessed 10/30/20180)
5 Brown Fat: What You Should Know. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/brown-fat#1 (Accessed 10/30/20180)
6 Coenzyme Q10. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements-coenzyme-q10/art-20362602 (Accessed 10/30/20180)
7 Non-Essential Nutrients. Naturopathic Medicine Profession Wiki. http://www.ndhealthfacts.org/wiki/Non-EssentialNutrients (Accessed 10/30/20180)
8 Top 9 Benefits of NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine). Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/nac-benefits#section1 (Accessed 10/30/20180)
9 Q&A with Lawrence A. Norton, M.D., New York Times Archive. https://www.nytimes.com/1988/08/02/science/q-a-504688.html (Accessed 10/30/20180)
10 How nails grow. American Academy of Dermatology. https://www.aad.org/public/kids/nails/how-nails-grow (Accessed 10/30/20180)
11 Tips to Make Your Nails Grow Faster. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/beauty-skin-care/how-to-make-your-nails-grow-faster (Accessed 10/30/20180)
12 How Carotenoids Can Keep Your Eyes Healthy. All About Vision. https://www.allaboutvision.com/nutrition/carotenoids.htm (Accessed 10/30/20180)
13 What causes bone loss? MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/patientinstructions/000506.htm (Accessed 07/11/2018)
14 Do people shrink as they age? University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. https://uamshealth.com/healthlibrary2/medicalmyths/dopeopleshrinkastheyage/ (Accessed 10/30/20180)
15 The Science Behind Why You Add An Inch Or So To Your Height In The Morning. Business Insider. https://www.businessinsider.com/taller-morning-wake-up-night-2014-8 (Accessed 10/30/20180)
16 How is the body affected by sleep deprivation https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/sleep/conditioninfo/sleep-deprivation (Accessed 01/05/2018)
17 Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-Analytic Review. PLOS Medical Journal. http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316 (Accessed 12/28/2017)
18 The skin as an endocrine organ. Dermatology Endocrinology. US National Library of Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2836429/ (Accessed 12/28/2017)
19 Vitamin D Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-HealthProfessional/ (Accessed 12/28/2017)
20 Heart, How It Works. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Affiliate/Heart-How-It-WorksUCM428843Article.jsp#.W9iiJHpKjUI (Accessed 12/28/2017)
21 Hate Exercise? 5 Tips That May Change Your Mind. American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/staying-motivated/hate-exercise-5-steps-to-loving-exercise (Accessed 12/28/2017)
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