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20 Obscure Facts You Never Knew About Your Own Body

From the tens of thousands of miles of blood vessels in your body to how far your nose can launch a sneeze, we've got weird body facts you'll love to chat about with friends. Who knew?

The human body is amazing

Although there are a few unsolved mysteries about the human body, there are also some interesting facts and scientific explanations that we know about body quirks and more. Here are some of the most interesting facts you might not know.

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You get a lot of heartbeats

The average human gets around three billion heartbeats in their lifetime, according to a review in Ageing Research Reviews. That’s all the more reason to care for your ticker. Plant-based diets filled with veggies, sipping tea, and practicing yoga are among some of the 15 smart ways to prevent heart disease.

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Your skeleton is all wet

You probably already heard that the human body is made up of mostly water (55 to 60 percent for adult women and men, respectively). What you might be surprised to find out is that fluid isn’t just in your skin, muscles, and organs, but your skeleton, too. In fact, water makes up nearly one-third of your bone mass, according to the United States Geological Survey.

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You’re part bacteria

If you claim to be afraid of bacteria, better think again. A 2016 study found that a 154-pound man has about 38 trillion bacteria, which is roughly the same amount of human cells, the researchers say. What’s more, the bacteria weigh nearly a half-pound in total.

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Your sneeze is powerful

There was a long-standing stat that a sneeze travels 100 mph, but newer research found it’s not even close. Still, that achoo is rather impressive. A 2013 study in PLOS One found that a sneeze moves at a rate of about 10 mph. Still, cover your mouth and nose to safeguard others from germs—and read this if you’re tempted to hold in a sneeze.

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So this is why you sweat a lot

Pass the deodorant please: You have two to four million sweat glands all over your body, points out the International Hyperhidrosis Society. Most of these are the non-stinky kind located on the soles of your feet, your palms, and your forehead and cheeks. Think you’re the “sweaty” type? Here’s why you may sweat more than other people.

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You have more hair than you think

People are born with five million hair follicles, 100,000 of which are located on your scalp, notes the American Academy of Dermatology. And while many women might want long locks, hair grows faster in men than women.

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Our bodies are quite similar

The human body is mostly made up of four elements: oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, and nitrogen, accounting for 96.2 percent of you. (Calcium and phosphorus are the other big players.) It’s amazing how those elements come together to help create a body that does truly impressive things each day, from fighting cancer to forming 20,000 thoughts.

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Every breath counts

You inhale and exhale without even thinking about it—to the tune of 17,280 to 23,040 breaths per day. And while it’s an automatic habit, it can bring big benefits. Eat these foods for better lung health. Here’s to breathing easier today.

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Your lungs are large

Speaking of inhaling and exhaling, your lungs have a tough job—and maybe that’s why they’re so large. Depending on the source, experts estimate that the surface area of your lungs can cover a badminton court or half a tennis court (some even say an entire tennis court). That’s a lot of lung!

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Here’s why you to hydrate

You exhale more than hot air: Exhaling is one way water leaves your body. And the amount that comes out quadruples when you exercise. When you’re getting sweaty, you exhale about 60 to 70 milliliters per hour, research points out. Time to take an H20 break. Make sure you’re not falling for these hydration myths.

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You’re a saliva machine

You probably don’t think much about your dribble, but you produce on average 640 milliliters of saliva a day—that’s a little more than 20 ounces. That’s a good thing since saliva plays an important role in washing away the nasties in your mouth. People with low saliva levels are more vulnerable to cavities and oral infections.

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You’re pretty brainy

Give it up for your noggin. There are at least 100 trillion neural connections in the human brain. Keep them all firing by following these brain-boosting habits. Whether you tutor others or learn to play an instrument, you can protect against cognitive decline and stay sharp for the long haul. Plus, make sure you’re not falling for any of these human body myths, which could damage your health.

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Toenails lag behind fingernails

Ever wonder why you need to clip your toenails less often than your fingers? It’s because they grow at a snail’s pace. While fingernails grow 3.47 millimeters per month, toenails only grow 1.62 millimeters a month, according to the Journal of The European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology.

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You’re pore-fection

Magnifying mirrors are the worst for revealing every imperfection on your face, but even they can’t see just how many pores dot your features. Adults have about 20,000 pores on their face, per a Harris Poll. Now that you know that fact, read on for 11 myths and truths about your pores.

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There’s a hidden network in your body

Blood vessels are tiny, but line them all up and you’ve got something really big—really big. Your body boasts a network of 60,000 miles of blood vessels, notes the National Institutes of Health. One way to keep them healthy is by eating right. These 14 foods will help improve your circulation.

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Certain body parts have standard sizes

For men wanting to know if they measure up, the average penis is just above five inches when erect, according to research in the Journal of Urology and the British Journal of Urology International. They also note that the average circumference is four and a half inches. Size isn’t something to worry about, but these sex problems should be taken seriously.

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You’re built to be a foodie

Salty, sweet, bitter, sour, and savory: Your tongue boasts 2,000 to 8,000 taste buds, and each has 50 to 100 taste receptor cells. (The number and location of these taste buds vary widely in each person.) That’s a huge opportunity to love every bite of food you eat. Learn ways to sharpen your sense of taste.

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Ovaries house a lot of eggs

Women are born with two million eggs in their ovaries. But you won’t continue making them throughout your life: A woman’s supply decreases throughout her years until menopause. As many as 500 mature throughout the reproductive years, with the rest being simply destroyed by the body. (Find out the only two body parts that don’t stop growing.)

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Your noggin’s kind of hefty

As big as your brain is, it’s a mystery why you’re losing your keys all the time. The average human brain weighs in at about three pounds for men and a bit over two and a half pounds for women. And it can do some pretty impressive things—even the average person can train themselves to remember hundreds of words or numbers—here’s how.

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Everybody poops

No seriously. The average human does 1. 1/24 poops every 24 hours, per research in Critical Reviews in Environmental Science and Technology. (A rather fun but unofficial calculator can estimate how many times you’ve pooped in your life.) If you’re worried whether bowel movements are normal, check out these 11 things they indicate about your health. Next, read up on the 13 strange body facts you’ve always wondered about.

Sources
Medically reviewed by Michael Spertus, MD, on March 10, 2020

Emily DiNuzzo
Emily DiNuzzo is an associate editor at The Healthy and a former assistant staff writer at Reader's Digest. Her work has appeared online at the Food Network and Well + Good and in print at Westchester Magazine, and more. When she's not writing about food and health with a cuppa by her side, you can find her lifting heavy things at the gym, listening to murder mystery podcasts, and liking one too many astrology memes.