When you stop and think about it, it’s incredible what our bodies can accomplish without asking for our permission. Metabolism? Check. Temperature control? Check. Healing? Check. Organ function? You betcha. Yep, it’s all automated. But that doesn’t mean that your body isn’t trying to communicate with you all the time.
Just as cars these days all come equipped with vehicle warning indicators, your body comes equipped with plenty of indicators, too—if you just knew how to listen and knew where to look. With that in mind, here you’ll find 60 amazing secrets your body is trying to tell you. So read on to learn how to be a better listener.
If your hands are cold, it may be the result of the temperature. It may also mean you’re totally stressing out.
Fact: If you’re experiencing heightened stress or anxiety, it can overextend your nervous system, which causes blood vessels to constrict and inhibit your circulation. So instead of reaching for a pair of mittens, you might work on taking a few deep breaths and putting that anxiety on ice.
It’s one of the more difficult diseases to diagnose. But if you fear that you have Lyme Disease, take note of your jaw. If you’re suffering from chronic pain that comes and goes, the cause may indeed be this tick-borne disease.
Though a medical professional may see this jaw pain as TMJ—or “temporal mandibular joint disorder”—your body may be trying to tell you it’s something more serious, so be sure to ask about it, specifically.
According to body language expert Blake Eastman, our blink rate tends to jump when we’re emotionally excited. When you’re feeling attracted to a potential partner, your blinking goes crazy, exceeding the average of 10 blinks per minute. So if you can’t stop batting your eyes, you may be in love.
A study published in 2011 by the British Journal of Cancer looked at 1,500 prostate cancer patients and 3,000 healthy control subjects over the course of 15 years, and found that the risk of cancer for guys with index fingers longer than their ring fingers was reduced by 33 percent. So if your index finger is shorter—get to the doctor for that checkup!
Jean Haner, a facial reading expert, told Cosmo that those who rock long eyebrows “tend to deal better with stress and typically have a lot of friends that they don’t mind listening to and helping out with their problems.”
On the flip-side, those who trim their eyebrows short “are typically a sign of someone who doesn’t deal with stress very well,” and that “these people usually don’t like having to deal with their friend’s dramas as well.”
According to retired FBI agent and body language expert Joe Navarro, the direction we point our feet—even when we aren’t thinking about it—says much about our feelings about the person in front of us.
“If you’re in a room with someone you don’t like, you won’t scowl or make faces because you don’t want to come off as insensitive or mean,” he tells Prevention. “But your feet will almost immediately turn away from that person.”
On the flip side, pointing your toes directly at someone can mean you’re very much into them.
If you love nothing more than chugging an iced beverage so you can get to the ice cubes left at the bottom, it might be time to splash out for a bottle of multivitamins.
Research published in the journal Medical Hypothesis has found that these two things are connected. Your body needs iron to help carry oxygen to your brain and your muscles, and people who are lacking in iron have less oxygen in their blood. Researchers believe that the act of chomping down on ice triggers a response in which your body sends more blood to the brain, which may produce feelings of greater alertness.
If this sounds like you and you’re iron deficient, the best sources for getting more iron are meat, poultry, and fish. However, according to Eat This, Not That!, other great non-meat iron sources include pumpkin seeds, black beans, broccoli, and more.
Pity the redhead. Those 152,656,386 souls on planet earth who are genetically disposed to having red locks may often be the butt of jokes, but there’s another downside to sporting strawberry-tinged hair: according to research, redheads are also more sensitive to pain.
The study, published in the journal Anesthesiology, found that redheads requiring higher levels of anesthesia during surgery than those who don’t have red hair.
If you’ve got Type O blood, you should be wary of humid nights and summer camping outings, because mosquitos especially love you. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, those with O are 83 percent more likely to have a mosquito land on them than those with type A, B, or AB. So stock up on OFF!
It sounds crazy, but the location of your bellybutton on your body can be useful in helping you decide what sport you’d be better off playing. Specifically, those with a bellybutton higher on their torso—because they have longer legs relative to their height—have been found to be better runners. Those with a lower bellybutton—because they have a longer torso—are generally stronger swimmers. Amazing, right?!
If you have a gray or white arc above your cornea, it’s known as arcus senilis. It may also be a sign that you need to cut back on fatty foods.
This is most common in adults, and a result of fatty deposits around the edge of the cornea. In some more severe cases, especially when it occurs in younger people, it can be the result of high cholesterol or high triglyceride levels.
If you notice your hair is thinning out, there’s a decent chance you aren’t eating enough meat, eggs, shellfish, or other sources of iron. According to a study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science, a deficiency in iron, which helps move blood and oxygen to your brain and muscles, may actually cause hair to fall out.
If you’ve got dark brown eyes, you might want to avoid trying to match your blue- or green-eyed friends drink for drink. Scientists have found that those who have darker eyes tend to be more sensitive to alcohol. Experts say that this may be due to the higher levels of melanin of those with brown eyes, which both colors eyes brown and acts as a connector between brain cells. The more melanin in the brain, the faster it reacts to stimulants such as alcohol.
Researchers have discovered that those with ring fingers that are much longer than their index fingers have higher levels of testosterone—and are more likely to succeed in endurance activities and math puzzles.
But fair warning: Those higher testosterone levels are also associated with a wandering eye and have been found to lead to a higher likelihood of cheating. So watch out!
We may associate beauty with symmetry, but those with more off-kilter features might have a greater destiny than looking good. It’s based on research from Astor University that found those with asymmetrical features were more likely to become successful in leadership roles. Among the reasons, according to the lead researcher: “The asymmetrical group has to develop more positive social skills to compensate for these perceived shortcomings.”
It’s also known as “flame foot,” when someone’s second toe is longer than the big toe. According to foot experts, this is attributed to “someone who is active, sporty, and creative, and is enthusiastic about new ideas and other people.” Go you!
Now, it may seem obvious that a chubbier face may indicate that you’re gaining weight, but it could be a warning sign about your overall health, too. As the University of Glasgow’s Benedict Jones explained to the BBC, “How healthy you are isn’t so much about how much fat you have, but where you have that fat.”
According to Jones, those who pack on pounds on the hips and bottom (“with slimmer torsos”), for instance, “tend to be healthier” than those who gain a spare tire around the waist. And those who gain weight on their face? It’s a more dangerous weight gain, as it “reflects the fatty deposits in more harmful areas.” So if that’s the case with you, it could be time to make some big lifestyle decisions.
According to researchers at the University of Louisville, blue-eyed students were found to be more successful in activities that demanded structured attention and focus over a long period of time—such as cross-country running, golf, or studying for tests. So if you’ve got bright blue eyes, don’t give up on that novel just yet!
If you yawn every single time you see someone else yawning—or you yawn even while thinking about other people yawning—researchers at Baylor University say you’re great at practicing empathy.
Fun fact: Psychopaths, who by definition lack any empathetic traits, are famously known to be utterly immune to contagious yawning. So, congrats! You’re not a psychopath.
Anti-dandruff shampoo may save you the embarrassment of skin flakes on your shoulder—thanks to its sulfur, antifungal agents, and other ingredients—but it also removes the moisture from the hair itself, leaving your hair dry and damaged. If you find your hair feels like a hay stack, your body is telling you it might be time to buy some regular shampoo!
Take a look at your earlobe. If it has a wrinkle-like line going down it, you’d better put some extra effort into boosting your heart health. Researchers have found that such creases were a sign of an increased risk of coronary heart disease—and that those with creases on both ears were at a greater risk than those with a crease on just one ear.
That constant hacking may be just a lingering cold, but, according to Mitchell Gaynor, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, it can also be something more serious, called post-bronchitis syndrome. Similar to asthma, it means your airways have temporarily gotten smaller. “People think unless you’re wheezing and short of breath it’s not asthma, but that’s not true,” he explained to Men’s Journal.
Researchers have found that those with higher levels of testosterone—and who are therefore prone to display the resulting traits of greater aggressiveness—tend to have wider faces with bigger cheekbones.
This is not limited to humans. Researcher Carmen Lefevre at Northumbria University told the BBC that in the case of capuchin monkeys, the wider the face, the higher they sit in the social hierarchy.
Research from the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom found that women with a greater waist-to-hip ratio were more likely to have one-night stands and have more sexual partners.
According to the researchers, this might be because, historically speaking, “childbirth is more dangerous for smaller women than larger women,” so sex and childbirth are seen as “less risky.” (Let’s be clear: that’s just a theory.)
Your sneezes say a lot about your personality, according to body language expert Patti A. Wood, creator of an Achoo IQ test for Benadryl.
One group of sneezers she identifies are the “enthusiastic” ones, including “your grandfather whose sneezes perhaps terrify you, or your coworker who always sneezes five times. The enthusiastic sneezers were found to be charismatic and social and have the ability to motivate others.”
While red ears can be a sign that you’re angry or embarrassed, it can also be an indicator that something more serious is happening in your body. More specifically, it can indicate an insufficiency of your adrenal glands, which are located on top of your kidneys and which produce the adrenaline hormone. In more extreme situations, this can lead to low blood pressure, weight loss, and even kidney failure.
If you realize that your posture is crummy and your shoulders slouch, it may be a sign that you’ve taken on more than you can handle. Body language expert Susan Constantine says that slouched shoulders are a surefire indicator of stress and even defeat.
Sure, our pupils dilate to allow more light in when our surroundings are dim. But they do the same when we are feeling emotional stimulation, including attraction. Furthermore, research has found that men are more attracted to women with larger pupils, which is a response to the heightened emotional response in the opposite sex.
If you’ve experienced a major life change—such as extreme weight loss—once you’ve return to a place of emotional stability it’s not uncommon for you to shed some hair.
As Amy McMichael, M.D., chair of dermatology at Wake Forest University, said to the Huffington Post: “It takes about three months for your hair to go through an entire growth cycle. So the hair isn’t reacting to anything new; the shedding is due to the extreme weight loss that happened a few months ago. In fact, not only are you going to get through this, but you’ve also already started to come out the other side.”
One Swedish study found that those with shorter shoe sizes tended to live longer on average than those with bigger, longer feet. For example, men with size 7 feet lived an average of between 78 and 84 years, while those with size 11 feet lived to between 66 and 69 years of age.
Light eyes mean you have less melanin in your brain—the stuff that alerts your mind to stimulants. A Georgia State University survey of 12,000 adults found that those with lighter-colored eyes consumed much more alcohol on average than those with dark eyes—and were more likely to be alcoholics. So if you’ve got light eyes, be wary of how many drinks you’ve tossed back.
If you’re putting on extra layers when those around you are sweating, your body may be trying to tell you that there’s something off about your thyroid functioning. A common symptom of an under-active thyroid is feeling unusually cold—even when the temperature is objectively warm.
If your tongue looks bright red, it may mean that you need more B12. As the folks at Livestrong put it, “This change in appearance comes from depapillation of the tongue: loss of the little bumps that that normally give the tongue a light pink, velvety appearance… Without these little bumps, called papillae, the tongue looks red and beefy.” Medical professionals even call this “beefsteak tongue.”
According to Stanford Medicine, this means your body could use more iron, folate, and vitamin B12. Eat This Not That! says you can stock up on B12 by eating more pork, plain low-fat yogurt, salmon, chicken, and eggs.
It’s an irony that the perfectionists among us also tend to practice unpleasant habits, such as hair-pulling and fingernail biting. But, as Scientific American explains, “Mounting evidence shows that people who compulsively bite their nails, pick their skin, or pull their hair are often perfectionists, and their actions may help soothe boredom, irritation and dissatisfaction.”
Hey, eating isn’t the only way to get rid of hunger. Often feeling that fullness is just as powerful. Research published in Health Psychology found that those who think the food they are eating is high in fat and calories are more likely to feel fuller, faster, than those who imagine they are eating healthier food. Mind over matter, people!
If you’re walking around in a slight haze after lunch, even after having a good night’s sleep and exercising regularly, it may be your body’s way of telling you to cut back on the bread and pasta (or, worse, that you have celiac disease).
As Gaynor told Men’s Journal: “There’s a huge gut-brain connection, and if gluten is causing inflammation in your gut, you’re malabsorbing nutrients and you’ve disturbed your gut’s microbiome.”
Eyebrow expert Jean Haner believes that women who wear their eyebrows thick and with minimal plucking are more likely to be active. “They’re naturally confident, they have a good head on their shoulders, and they can figure things out quickly,” she told Cosmo. “Sometimes they can get frustrated easily, though, if others are holding them back from what they want to do, because they are really good at getting things done.”
A big, easy smile indicates that you might have a long-lasting marriage. A team of psychologists conducted a survey of high-school yearbook photos, and found that those who smiled in their pictures were less likely to divorce. Those who smiled the least were five times more likely to be divorced in their life. (!!)
Small ears are cute, but they have also been found to correlate with a greater probability of developing eczema, a condition that makes your skin all itchy and red. As ear, nose, and throat surgeon George Murty told the Daily Mail, “Your ear canals are lined with skin and, just like skin on the outside of the body, it flakes off.”
Vitamins boast plenty of health benefits, but you can definitely overdo it when it comes to your daily dose of zinc, calcium, iron, and more. As Livestrong explains, “Multivitamins, particularly those that contain heavy metals like zinc, copper and chromium, have been known to cause a metallic aftertaste.”
If you’re nails suddenly turn white, or white lines appear on them, it could be a sign of something serious, like kidney or liver disease. But if you’ve always had white spots on your nails, you have little to worry about. That’s a normal occurrence.
We usually think that looking someone in the eye is a sign of trustworthiness and honesty. And while that’s certainly true—up to a point—body language expert Blake Eastman tells Medical Daily that holding eye contact for an uncomfortably long amount of time can be a “giveaway” that someone is not telling you the truth.
Reflexologist (and author of three books on the subject) Jane Sheehan told the Daily Mail that those who have a big toe that’s significantly longer than their other toes are “never stumped for an answer, and can see things from different angles. On the downside, you may have problems focusing and sometimes don’t see projects through.”
A regular habit of mindful meditation can result in your mind actually reshaping itself, causing a thickening of the hippocampus (the part of your mind that handles learning and memory), the temporo parietal junction (associated with empathy and compassion), and posterior cingulate (involved in mind wandering).
Those were the findings of a team of researchers who studied MRI scans of individuals practicing meditation regularly and comparing them with the scans of those who didn’t.
A study out of the University of Pittsburgh found that women with blue or green eyes were able to handle greater levels of pain (in this case, the subjects were pregnant women going through childbirth). The women with lighter eyes also suffered lower levels of anxiety after birth, as well as lower rates of postpartum depression.
You’re only as young as you feel, sure, but your fingernails might be telling a different story. If roughness and vertical ridges appear on your nails that you had not noticed before, it’s not a scary disease. It’s likely a side effect of aging.
We all know that urine tests are a common way to test whether someone has been using drugs, but your hair follicles can be just as effective. In fact, your hair continues to hold traces of substances you may have used long after your death. In one extreme example, researchers were able to find traces of morphine in the hair follicles of romantic poet John Keats’ locks 165 years after he died.
Reflexologist Jane Sheehan says that “if you can wiggle your little toe separately from your fourth toe, you are an impulsive, adventurous, charming flirt.” If you can’t? “You value routine, predictability, and loyalty.”
If you find that you’re plucking your eyebrows until they are a thin line, you may need to work on your self-confidence. Or at least that’s the assessment of Haner, who says, “Plucking your brows too thin can also attract people toward you that will walk all over you, because your self-confidence has been lowered.”
If you’re eyes are hurting from looking at your computer screen, it’s time to take a break. Called computer vision syndrome, this strained feeling in your eyes occurs when staring at a screen for more than two hours consecutively.
Those who are on the shorter side may feel that they are at a disadvantage when standing next to their taller peers, but in one way they’re way better off: Research from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine found that a gene that’s common in the “oldest of old” people is also associated with shorter stature.
Believe it or not, aching knees can be a surefire sign of poor mental health. In fact, one new study found a link between depression and knee pain, and that chronic mental suffering can manifest itself in other physiological ways, as well.
If you swear you heard a phone ring when nothing actually sounded, you might be suffering from something called “ringxiety.” A study found that those with “higher attachment anxiety,” such as worrying about whether their partner is faithful, were more likely to experience this “phantom ringing.”
According to face reading expert Jane Haner, those with rectangular faces “value logic and are really good thinkers, but they often overthink.” Meanwhile, those with rounder faces are typically more giving and kind, “and always put people first.”
Phantosmia is a condition in which your nose catches a whiff of something—rotten eggs, wet dogs, something else similarly unpleasant—that’s not actually there.
These “phantom smells” may be your brain subtly letting you know something is off. According to the Mayo Clinic, it could be a sign of something as simple as inflamed sinuses or as concerning as a brain tumor, epilepsy or Parkinson’s disease. Either way, your body is giving you a heads up to call your doctor, stat.
According to Jean Haner, a “face reading” expert who wrote the book The Wisdom of Your Face, a bony nose that’s much longer than other features “means you’re a perfectionist, you like to be in control,” and that “you also like to be alone a lot.”
Researchers have found that sitting and looking downward will make it easier to recall negative memories, while sitting upright and looking upward makes it easier to recall positive, empowering memories.
If your hair is dull in color or thinning, it’s usually a sign that you need to get more nutrients into your diet via fruits and vegetables and proteins.
Dark eyes don’t necessarily mean you are smarter, but according to research published in the journal Perceptual and Motor Skills, it may mean you think faster.
Researchers found that dark eye color reflects high levels of melanin, which not only determines eye darkness but also can serve as an insulator for electrical connections between brain cells. Those with dark eyes have been found to be better at throwing a Frisbee at a target and hitting a ball with a racquet due to this tendency.
A tongue with red and white spots isn’t anything to freak out about. It’s just a sign that your taste buds have worn down, possibly because you have temporarily damaged them with too much sour candy (surprisingly common) or by eating hot food that’s lightly scorched them and caused desensitization. Give it some time (and stop damaging the buds) and they’ll grow back to full healthy in no time. And for more astonishing truths about your body, don’t miss these 50 Science-Backed Health Facts That Will Blow Your Mind.
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