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 50 secrets your body is trying to tell you. So read on, and have your mind blown! And for more about your amazing body, check out these 20 Amazing Facts You Never Knew About Your Body.
Your Index Finger Is Shorter Than Your Ring Finger = Get Your Prostate Checked
Those with ring fingers that are longer than their index fingers have been found to have a lower risk of prostate cancer. Specifically, a study of more than 1,500 prostate cancer patients and 3,000 healthy control subjects over 15 years 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. And for more on your prostate, don’t miss our tips on How to Cancer-Proof Your Prostate.
A Desire to Chew Ice = You Need Iron
If you get to the bottom of your iced tea and just start chomping down on the ice cubes left in the bottom, it might be time to splash out for a bottle of multivitamins. Research published in the journal Medical Hypothesis found that these two things are connected. People lacking iron have less oxygen in their blood and therefore seek out the stimulating feeling of the crunch and cold, which effectively wakes them up.
Red Hair = You’re More Sensitive to Pain
Pity the redhead. Those with red or orange hair are often the butt of jokes, but according to anecdotal research, they are also more sensitive to pain, requiring higher levels of anesthesia during surgery than those who do not have red hair. And for more on those with auburn locks, check out Exactly How Many People Have Red Hair.
Blood Type O = You Need More Bug Spray
If you’ve got Type O blood, be wary of humid nights and camping outings—mosquitos love your type. According to a study published in the Journal of Medical Entomology, those with O are 83% more likely to have a mosquito land on them than those with type A, B, or AB. And for more on avoiding summer’s peskiest insects, see the 20 Genius Ways to Avoid Mosquitoes.
Your Bellybutton Can Tell You What Sport You Should Play
This sounds kind of odd, but the location of your bellybutton can be a useful way to help you decide what sport you might be better at 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. Crazy, right?!
Thinning Hair = You Need More Iron
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. For example, a study published in the Journal of Korean Medical Science found that iron may actually cause hair to fall out (even if it just looks like typical male-pattern baldness).
Dark Eyes = Lay off the Booze
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 with darker eyes tend to be more sensitive to alcohol than those with the lighter colored peepers. 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.
If You Turn Your Feet Away from Someone = You Dislike Them
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. For more on body language, here are 15 Secrets for Decoding Your Partner’s Thoughts.
Short Index Fingers = You’re Manly
Well, that you have high levels of testosterone. Researchers have found that those with ring fingers that are much longer than their index fingers have higher levels of testosterone—and that you are more likely to succeed in endurance activities and math puzzles. But that high amount of testosterone is also associated with a wandering eye and has been found to lead to a higher likelihood of cheating. And for more on that, read up on Why Men Cheat.
An Asymmetrical Face = You’re a Great Leader
While we imagine there is greater beauty in a naturally symmetrical face, those with more off-kilter features might have a greater destiny than looking good. That’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.”
If Your Second Toe Is Longer Than All Others = You Are Creative
Also known as the “flame foot,” this shape in which the second toe is longer than the big toe and the rest of the little piggies is believed by foot experts to be an attribute of “someone who is active, sporty and creative, and is enthusiastic about new ideas and other people.”
You’re a Contagious Yawner = You’re an Empathetic Person
Seeing, or even thinking, about someone yawning often causes us to do the same. But this is far more common, according to research from Baylor University, in those who feel empathy toward the yawner, or who consider themselves empathetic people in general.
Dry Hair = You’re Using Too Much Dandruff Shampoo
Anti-dandruff shampoo may save you the embarrassment of skin flakes on your shoulder, thanks to their sulfur, antifungal agents, and other ingredients. But it also often 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 cut back.
You’re Blinking a Lot = You Have a Crush
According to body language expert Blake Eastman, our blink rate tends to jump when we’re emotionally excited. When someone is feeling attraction to another person, their blinking will increase to more than the average of 10 blinks per minute. So if you notice someone blinking a lot as you chat, it may be a sign of love. And guys, if you see a woman blinking for your affection, be sure you know the 17 Worst Things You Can Say to a Woman.
Diagonal Earlobe Creases = You’re at Greater Risk of Heart Disease
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 at increased risk of coronary heart disease than those without—and those with creases on both ears were at a greater risk than those with a crease on just one ear. If this might be you, check out our list of 40 Ways to Prevent Heart Disease After 40.
A Cough That Won’t Quit = Your Airway Has Shrunk
You may think that that constant hacking is just a lingering cold, but according to Mitchell Gaynor, M.D., assistant clinical professor of medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College, it can often be something more serious known as post-bronchitis syndrome. Similar to asthma, it’s a situation in which your airways temporary have gotten smaller. “People think unless you’re wheezing and short of breath it’s not asthma, but that’s not true,” he told Men’s Journal.
Long Eyebrows = You Deal Better with Stress
Jean Haner, a facial reading expert, tells 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.” Alternately, 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.”
Cold Hands = You’re Stressed
If you are feeling stress or anxiety, it can overwork your nervous system, causing blood vessels to constrict and circulation to your hands to be inhibited. So instead of reaching for a pair of mittens, you might work on taking a few deep breaths and putting that anxiety on ice. Also, see these 10 Amazing Non-Exercise Stress Busters.
Wide Hips = You May Like to Play the Field
Research from the University of Leeds in the UK found that women with a greater waist-to-hip ratio were more likely to have one-night stands and 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.” Of course, that’s just a theory.
A Loud Sneeze = You Are Outgoing
Our sneezes say a lot about our 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.”
An Aching Jaw = You Could Have Lyme Disease
One of the toughest diseases to diagnose, Lyme disease is often overlooked by medical professionals who often attribute its symptoms to other ailments. One sign you may be suffering from this tick-transported disease is jaw pain that comes and goes. Though it may be diagnosed as TMJ—temporal mandibular joint disorder—your body may be trying to tell you it’s something more serious.
Red Ears = Kidney Problems
While red ears can be a sign that you’re angry or embarrassed, it can also be an indicator that something more serious is off. In particular, 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, or even kidney failure.
Slouching Shoulders = You’re Overwhelmed
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 show are an indicator of stress and even defeat.
Dilated Pupils = You’re Totally into Him (or Her)
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. It makes sense then that 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.
Your Hair Is Falling Out = You’re Healing Emotionally
Seems weird, but after a major change in your life, whether losing significant weight or suffering from lack of sleep, once you return to a place of emotional stability, it’s not uncommon for you to shed some serious hair.
This is according to Amy McMichael, M.D., chair of dermatology at Wake Forest University, who explained this 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.”
Small Feet = Longer Life
You know what they say about a guy with big feet, right? He doesn’t live as long as guys with short feet.
That was the finding of a Swedish study that found that those with shorter shoe sizes tended to live longer on average than those with 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 = You’re More Likely to Be Alcoholic
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 light eyes consumed much more alcohol on average than those with dark eyes, and were more likely to be alcoholics (likely because they needed more alcohol to become intoxicated). So if you’ve got light eyes, be wary of how many drinks you’ve tossed back. And for more great drinking-related advice, see The Dangerous Trap of Drinking Lower Alcoholic Beverages.
If You’re Cooler Than Everyone = You Might Have a Thyroid Issue
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 underactive thyroid is feeling unusually cold even when the temperature is objectively warm. And if you’re trying to improve your thyroid health, don’t miss these 20 Best Foods for Your Thyroid.
A Bright Tongue = You Need More B12
If your tongue looks bright red, it may mean that you need more B12. As Livestrong puts 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.” Um, gross.
You’re Biting Your Nails = You May Be a Perfectionist
It’s ironic that those who carry perfection traits also practice unpleasant habits, such as hairpulling and fingernail biting. 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.”
You Think Your Food is Filling = You Lose Your Appetite
You might think the only way to satiate your hunger is through eating. But often feelings of fullness are 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 full, faster, than those who imagine they are eating healthier food. Mind over matter, people!
A Foggy Brain = Cut Back on Carbs
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 that you may even have celiac disease.
That was the advice of Gaynor, who told this to Men’s Journal: “There’s a huge gut-brain connection, and if gluten is causing inflammation in your cut, you’re malabsorbing nutrients and you’ve disturbed your gut’s microbiome.”
Naturally Thick Eyebrows = You’re Active
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 Smile = You’re in a Great Relationship
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 least were five times more likely to be divorced in their life than those who smiled the most. And if you could use a good smile, here are 70 Jokes So Corny They’ll Leave You in Stitches.
Small Ears = You’re at Risk of Eczema
Small ears are cute, but they have also been found to correlate with a greater probability of developing eczema. 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.”
A Metal Taste in Your Mouth = Cut Back on Those Vitamins
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.”
White Fingernails = You Could Have Kidney Disease
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.
Prolonged Eye Contact = You’re Lying
We usually think that looking someone in the eye is a sign of trustworthiness or honesty, and while that’s 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.
A Long Big Toe = You Are Creative
This is according to reflexologist and author of three books on the subject, Jane Sheehan, who tells the Daily Mail that those with 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.”
You Like to Meditate = You’re Reshaping Your Brain
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 looking at MRI scans of individuals practicing meditation regularly and those who did not. And if you’re trying to make the most of your time spent meditating, see our list of 10 Ways to Focus Better During Meditation.
If You’ve Got Light Eyes = You Can Handle More Pain
A study at 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.
Vertical Ridges on Your Fingernails = You’re Getting Old
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.
If You’re a Drug User = Your Hair Knows it
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.
You Can Wiggle Your Little Toe = You’re Impulsive
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.”
Over-Plucked Eyebrows = You Need a Confidence Boost
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 Your Eyes Are Tired = Stop Working
Plenty of things can cause your eyes to hurt, but one that is often overlooked by those suffering from it is that they are spending too many hours a day staring at screens. Called computer vision syndrome, this strained feeling in your eyes occurs when staring at a screen for more than two hours consecutively. The solution? Look at something else!
You’re Short = You’ll Probably Live Longer
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 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.
Knee Pain = You’re Depressed
Aching knees can be a sign of emotional ill health. A new study found that there’s a link between depression and knee pain, and that chronic mental suffering can show up in physiological ways as well.
If You Hear Ringing That’s Not There = You Might Be Clingy
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,” while those with rounder faces are typically more giving and kind, “and always put people first.” And for more on what your face shape might mean, check out 13 Astonishing Things Your Face Shape Says About You.
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