With the sheer number of trendy diets and sketchy health gurus out there, it can be hard to trust the information you hear about your physical and mental well-being. But by turning to hard research and data, you can clarify what’s legitimate and what’s nonsense. Here are 40 tidbits about your body and your brain that fit into the former category. From the surprising sense heightened by anxiety to the secrets your skin is revealing, these truly astonishing health facts, all of which are backed by science, will blow your mind.
1. Urinating in a pool is dangerous for your heart.
Though definitely gross, peeing in a pool may have seemed harmless enough. After all, urine is sterile, as is chlorine, right?
But it turns out, urine and chlorine create dangerous chemicals when combined. In fact, Dr. Xing-Fang Li of the University of Alberta—who conducted research on the topic published in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters—told NPR that that so-called “pool smell” is actually the smell of those chemicals. One of which, cyanogen chloride, is classified as a chemical warfare agent and can damage your heart and lungs. Other byproducts, called nitrosamines, can even cause cancer.
2. Stress heightens allergies.
Just like chlorine and urine, stress and allergies do not mix well. Not only do allergies increase stress levels, but also stress can make allergies worse. This is because stress has a twofold effect on the body, according to Harvard Medical School. The first is psychological: When you’re stressed, things just seem worse than they actually are—allergies included. The second is physical: By ramping up the body’s defense responses, stress exhausts them to the degree that core bodily functions, like the ability to fight off allergens, lose efficacy.
3. Men are more forgetful than women.
Though researchers still don’t know why, plenty of studies dedicated to comparing the memory abilities of men and women consistently prove it to be true. According to one hypothesis found in a 2014 study published in The Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, the difference could be due to varying brain structures, specifically that hippocampus in men (the part of the brain associated with memory) begins to decrease in volume faster than it does in women.