The human body is a miracle with scientists always researching to unravel a new mystery every day with the aim of changing already-accepted misconceptions about the body.
Eat your vegetables. Sleep eight hours a day. Exercise.
There are so many truisms about staying healthy that we sometimes don’t use due diligence in determining if the advice given to us is even true.
Here are the top five misconceptions about the human body:
We Have Five Senses
The belief we have five senses dates back to the time of Greek philosopher Aristotle, who was the first to discern the five discrete senses of the human body.
You probably learned them in elementary school: sight, hearing, smell, touch, taste. Yes, these are five of your senses but they aren’t the only ones.
What is a “sense”? Well, it’s something with a sensor that can perceive a given stimulus. Every sense is activated by a unique phenomenon.
In fact, the sense of touch is actually much more complex than just a single sensation. Many neurologists break down “touch” into divergent sensations, including perceptions of pressure, temperature, and pain.
These include some senses, like blood pressure and balance, that you knew you had but didn’t count as a “sense.”
So, next time someone says they have a sixth sense, you might respond by saying you have 33. They may not know what you mean by that, but you’ll know!
Rolling Your Tongue Is Genetic
Many of us can remember being taught, by a biology teacher no less, that our ability to roll our tongues was simple genetic fate.
The majority of people can roll their tongues, and societal wisdom held that tongue rolling was a dominant genetic trait. If either of your parents could do it, so could you. Or so we were told. In reality, it’s not that simple.
Unlike many of these human body myths, we have a good idea from where this one came. In 1940, American geneticist Alfred Sturtevant published a study which concluded that your tongue-rolling ability was a hereditary trait based on a dominant gene.
However, people realized quickly that there were identical twins where one could roll his tongue and the other couldn’t. As a result, Sturtevant’s findings were swiftly debunked, with the man at the helm conceding defeat.
And yet, decades later in classrooms across the world, this falsehood is being spread anew. Now that you know the truth, you can stop the madness from spreading the next time someone unveils this quirky parlour trick.
Carrots Improve Eyesight
The myth that carrots will improve your vision is wrapped up in a twisted history of wartime propaganda.
To be fair, carrots are great sources of beta-carotene, an inactive retinol that is transformed into vitamin A during digestion. Vitamin A provides all sorts of benefits to the body, including the protection of eyesight.
But does it really improve one’s nighttime vision? No.
The British Ministry of Information ran a campaign during World War II that suggested pilots in the Royal Air Force were eating large quantities of carrots, explaining their uncanny ability to shoot down German fighter pilots under the veil of darkness.
Truth is, all the carrots in the world couldn’t give you the gift of nocturnal sight. British troops were warding off German bombers with novel technology at the time—airborne interception radar.
Yet, in the almost century since, the Western world’s general public has remained firm believers that if they eat enough of the orange stuff, their eyes will thank them.
We Only Use 10 Percent Of Our Brains
The human brain with a weight of 1.4 kilograms is home to nearly 100 billion neurons. They transmit information to each other across gaps called synapses, of which the brain has almost one quadrillion.
The brain is sectioned into three primary parts—the cerebrum, the cerebellum, and the brain stem. The cerebrum composes roughly 85 per cent of the organ and is responsible for much of the higher-level functioning we associate with being human.
Located below the cerebrum, you’ll find the cerebellum, which controls basic coordination and balance. And finally, you have the brain stem. Connected to your spinal cord, the brain stem controls most of your automatic functions, such as breathing and digestion.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if all this processing is only making use of 10 per cent of the brain’s bandwidth? This perception is totally false.
The perception gained grounds in the late 1890s, Harvard psychologists William James and Boris Sidis used the latter’s wunderkind (his IQ was nearly 300) as proof that all humans must have the capacity to be that smart. We just have to try harder.
Pretty ridiculous, right? Further research at the start of the 20th century found that rats with cerebral damage could be retaught certain tasks. This was used to bolster the already weak case that our human brain is full of untapped potential.
Just reading this article uses more than 10 per cent of your brain. Oh well.
Cracking Knuckles Will Cause Arthritis
Arthritis isn’t a single condition but rather a catchall term for a group of pain disorders characterized by joint aches, swelling, and inflammation.
Unfortunately, it’s quite common, affecting more than 50 million adults and 300,000 children in the US. Arthritis can be mild or debilitating. It can flare up or feel like a slow and steady burn. Obviously, if you can avoid activities linked to arthritis, you should.
For many health-conscious individuals, this includes a seemingly simple request—don’t crack your knuckles. However, we’re here to tell you that cracking your knuckles doesn’t make the list in your fight to prevent arthritis.
But first, what is “cracking” the knuckles? That popping sound is associated with bubbles bursting in your synovial fluid (the stuff that greases your joints).
As bad as that sounds, a cross-study analysis by doctors at Harvard Medical School found no evidence that cracking one’s knuckles has a causal link to arthritis.
That said, you still might want to give up the habit. Chronic knuckle cracking is linked to weaker grip strength. Furthermore, it’s just annoying to listen to.