The human body is gross. It’s teeming with non-human bacteria, oozing mucus from a variety of orifices, and generally functioning in a manner disgusting enough to make you taste your dinner twice. We don’t think about the “ick” factor because we’re used to our bodies; desensitized to the yuckiness of it all. Let’s take a few moments to review just how revolting people really are. If you weren’t already under the impression that human bodies are burbling cauldrons of nastiness, brace yourself. The facts are nauseating, and once you’re in-the-know, there’s no going back.
10. Your feet are super sweat-a-licious.
Anyone who’s smelled a pair of used sneakers knows that feet sweat. What they might not know is how much. One pair of feet contains 250,000 sweat glands. They produce approximately “16oz of perspiration each day”. That’s roughly one pint of foot sweat! Some of it evaporates, but what doesn’t will give your shoes, socks, and feet a potent signature aroma. Excessive sweat provides bacteria the kind of moisture-rich environment in which it can thrive and stink. Too much cooped-up sweat can also increase your susceptibility to fungal infections, such as athlete’s foot. That’s why it’s so important to let your feet air out every once in a while! Careful walking around barefoot, though, as a cut on your foot can lead to infection and medical issues such as plantar warts.
9. You shed, and I’m not talking about hair.
The top portion of the epidermis is the stratum corneum. It’s comprised of dead skin cells called corneocytes. A layer of living cells exists directly underneath it. These living cells rise up, die, and become part of the stratum corneum. Once a cell generates in the skin’s basal layer, it takes approximately one month to rise to the surface and shed. Dead skin won’t simply keep building up; the outermost layer of our epidermis is extremely thin and must stay thin to remain fully functional. We shed older dead skin cells to make room for the new ones at a rate of 500 million cells per day. Washcloths and scrubbing sponges can be packed with these dead skin cells and their accompanying bacteria. Gross as that may be, shedding is still for the best. It keeps our skin fresh and flexible. Beyond that, the oils in dead cells help combat indoor air pollution!
8. You have a very dirty mouth.
If anyone has ever called you a “potty mouth,” they were not doing your mouth germs justice. The average mouth is much dirtier than the average potty. “Our mouth is inhabited by 500 to 1000 different types of bacteria, 70 to 80 different types of fungi and a few viruses and parasites.” Chew on that! What you taste at this very moment includes bacteria, fungus, and parasites. Many of the bacteria are “good guys” working to fight off harmful bacteria, so it’s not like you want your mouth to be without the little buggers. You just want to make sure potentially harmful bacteria don’t get out of control. Brush and floss, ladies and gentlemen, and don’t skip out on that twice-yearly dental check-up!
7. Something’s sprouting.
Keratin sprouts from our bodies in the form of dead protein, or “hair,” as we like to call it. Fingernails and skin are also made of keratin. As it turns out, animals’ claws, hooves, and antlers are made of keratin, too. Isn’t it amazing the different forms one material can take on? Humans grow the thinnest hair compared to other primates, but we actually have a similar follicle density compared to chimpanzees and gorillas. Their hair simply grows longer and coarser than ours. It also sheds much faster. We have around five million hair follicles covering our bodies, which allows for plenty of sprouting keratin! Don’t worry; it’s not so much you’ll start growing antlers—though it is possible for this protein to manifest as a cutaneous horn.
6. Mucus will ooze.
Mucus creates a protective layer to capture dust particles inside your body. It’s your knight in shining, green, drippy armor. Your body makes about one quart per day. It’s not fun to swallow, at least not when you’re sick enough to notice, but life would be much worse without it. “Snot and phlegm are actually replete with all sorts of potent antiviral, antibacterial, and other protective chemicals that work to keep you healthy”. However, the nose isn’t the only place mucus exits the body, especially if you’re a woman. Cervical mucus, often compared to egg whites, is one way your body communicates that you’re ovulating. In pregnancy, women lose the “mucus plug” before going into labor. It’s even normal to have a small amount of stool mucus. Just accept that your body is a gigantic mucus faucet and buy some Kleenex.
5. Your body contains highly corrosive liquid.
Gastric acid within the stomach contains a potent amount of hydrochloric acid, corrosive enough to destroy metal. Your stomach bacteria are resilient enough to survive that harsh of an environment. The acidity is so extreme, without the stomach-protecting mucous membrane, it would digest the stomach. It’s for reasons like this that we want mucus in our bodies! Sometimes, though, the stomach doesn’t produce the perfect ratio of hydrochloric acid to everything else. Imbalance can lead to discomfort and serious medical issues. If you’ve ever experienced acid reflux, you’ve had a taste of just how caustic the human body’s gastric juices feel. What else could be expected? We are talking about acid here.
4. Your fungus can get way out of control.
Our bodies are fungal. We harbor 100 different species of foot fungus. On an average day, that’s where the majority of body fungus will remain. However, sometimes yeast gets out of control and the body shows symptoms of candidiasis. This is more widely known as yeast infection. Fungus may grow in the stomach, urinary tract, vagina, or tongue, or even on the skin. One of the most revolting among these is thrush—yeast infection or candidiasis of the mouth. The curd-like fungus grows in patches on your tongue and palate. It’s easily treated, but while visible, thrush is a filthy reminder of the candida albicans fungus always living in your mouth. This is only one of various things that can thrive and multiply on or inside of you. In fact…
3. You’re crawling with bacteria.
Nine out of every ten bacteria in the human body are microbial. That’s a massive number, considering the fact that 100 trillion bacteria live in your body. Only ten percent of those cells are human. You might not be able to see or feel your creepy-crawly friends, but they’re definitely present. You couldn’t survive without them. There are so many that “all the bacteria living inside you would fill a half-gallon jug.” Occasionally, one bacterium will cause serious problems for the host. That’s you. For example, the vast majority of humans have demodex in their eyelashes, which are miniscule mites. These acarids have long, non-segmented bodies and eight legs in the adult stage. They make their home in your eyelash hair follicles and live off sebum. Usually we don’t notice demodex, but a high increase in numbers can lead to bothersome medical issues such as blapharitis. Invisible-to-the-eye organisms harm people often. They can even be lethal. In 2010, John Matthews of Iowa began losing his vision when a parasitic worm inhabited and munched on his left eye. Despite cases like his, the average bacteria in our body still do more good than harm.
2. Non-human bacteria will devour you—dead or alive.
Necrotizing fasciitis is the flesh-eating bacteria from your worst zombie nightmares. This type of infection requires a quick response, because it regularly leads to organ failure, the need for amputation, and death. Necrotizing fasciitis typically strikes following trauma or post-surgery. Once you’re infected, the bacteria become a very dangerous part of you. The cause can be as simple as a small cut, where bacteria enter, often combined with a compromised immune system. People with diabetes and cancer patients are especially susceptible. Those with strong immune systems who disinfect their wounds are unlikely to contract necrotizing fasciitis. Even if flesh-eating bacteria don’t consume you when you’re alive, though, there are plenty in your intestinal tract that will find you extra-tasty after you’ve died. They are just waiting to work their way from the inside, out. This process is called putrefaction.
1. You can regurgitate poop.
Poop vomit may begin with fecal impaction. A colon blockage makes it so the body can’t excrete waste. This blockage causes new waste to build up since there’s nowhere else for it to go. Eventually, it exits the body through the mouth. Another possibility is atypical contraction of gastric muscles, which can carry fecal matter upward from the intestines, to the stomach, and out through the mouth. This process is also known as copremesis or stercoraceous vomiting. Our bodies can certainly surprise us. Sometimes those surprises are pleasant, and other times, such as when we’re vomiting poop, the human body can seem rather revolting.