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10 Unbelievable body facts from Mary Roach

I'm Sarah - wife to my amazing husband, John, and mom to two little girls, Cami and Maisie.  I used to work in the finance industry before having my daughters, and now I'm a freelance personal finance writer and blogger.  I love being wi...

Crazy-weird body facts

Mary Roach is a science writer and knows just about every weird thing there is to know about the body. Prepare to be fascinated…

Crazy-weird body facts

Best-selling author Mary Roach just released her fifth book, Gulp, in April. Gulp, along with her other books, tackles questions we all wonder about but just don’t have the courage to ask. These topics include how much we can eat before our stomach bursts, if constipation can kill you, if wine-tasters really know the difference between expensive and cheap wine, and more. Have we got your attention yet? Here are 10 unbelievable facts about humans and the human body from Mary Roach.


We have two sets of nostrils

Crazy-weird body facts

And we use both sets to smell. The most common set is simply the one in the nose, but there’s another set in the back of the mouth that we use just as often.


The difference between a $500 bottle of wine and a $30 one is all hype

Crazy-weird body facts

Top wine judge Paul Wagner has been conducting 18 years of wine-tastings with people who have years of experience in the wine industry. Almost always, the least expensive wine ranks the highest and the most expensive ones finish at the bottom.


The mouth isn’t as germy as we think

Crazy-weird body facts

Wounds in the mouth heal significantly quicker than wounds on the skin. The reason? Our saliva is packed with antibacterial substances. Next time you have a cut, put a little saliva on it to help it heal quicker.


You can’t eat yourself to death

Crazy-weird body facts

This is good news for those who like to chow down! The human stomach has built-in emergency emptying and venting systems to prevent the stomach from rupturing. These include burping and vomiting. Without this system, though, the stomach can hold about one gallon of food before rupturing (the study was done on cadavers).


Women have stronger-smelling gas than men

Crazy-weird body facts

Unfortunately, it’s true. Even though women tend to complain more about their men's gas, women’s gas contains more hydrogen sulfide and therefore smells worse. Granted, men do produce more gas, so we think it evens out!


Without taste receptors, we have a very hard time eating

Crazy-weird body facts

If your taste receptors are destroyed, nothing tastes good, and the brain doesn’t recognize anything as food, therefore possibly causing you to die of starvation. If the brain doesn’t recognize what you’re eating as food, it won’t let you swallow. Weird!


The smell of food doesn’t make your mouth water

Crazy-weird body facts

One researcher cooked bacon and eggs in a lab and measured saliva flow rates of study subjects. They were the same as before the meal was cooked. The only difference is you become aware of your saliva and think that your mouth is watering.


Gas takes about five hours to form

Crazy-weird body facts

In other words, humans typically pass gas about five hours from when they finish eating. This is about how long it takes the stomach to break down food and pass it into the small intestine.


Constipation may have killed Elvis Presley

Crazy-weird body facts

Elvis’s autopsy revealed his colon was two to three times larger than average. If your colon is too large, you’ll suffer from chronic constipation since it can’t properly empty itself. Though Elvis also had prescription drugs in his system at the time of death, none were at lethal levels. So was it constipation?


We develop food preferences from our mom’s breast milk

Crazy-weird body facts

Our food preferences go all the way back to our days in the womb and breastfeeding. If our mom enjoyed garlic or tomatoes, we’ll most likely enjoy those foods, too. Maybe this is another reason to eat healthy when pregnant!

For more body facts and a humorous read all-around, pick up a copy of Mary Roach’s Gulp here >>

Tell us

What fact surprised you the most? Share in the comments below!

Excerpted from Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach. Copyright © 2013 by Mary Roach. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.

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