7 “Gross” Things That Happen To Your Body If Your Immune System Is Healthy
While the human body is pretty incredible, everyone experiences things that aren’t quite so magical, such as going to the bathroom or getting smelly when it’s hot outside. These not-so-exciting parts of being a person are actually very important for keeping your body functioning properly, according to experts. The "gross" things that happen if your immune system is healthy might make you feel a little better next time you have a runny nose or pass gas.
“Our body is designed to function like a well-oiled machine,” Dr. Diana Lewis, a physician at 98point6, tells Bustle. “It is designed to confront and take care of infections, and even get rid of cells in our bodies that are not normal.” When your body is fighting off a potential threat, it’s actually common not to feel 100% amazing, because your immune system is functioning the way that it should, she says.
In fact, not noticing any unusual symptoms can mean that your immune system isn’t working as well as it should be, according to Dr. Richelle Guerrero-Wooley, an infectious disease specialist at Loma Linda University Medical Center. Whenever your body encounters a bacteria or a virus, a whole series of host immune defense systems should jump into action — from your innate immune system, located on your skin and mucous membranes, to your humoral and cell mediated defense systems, composed of white blood cells and antibodies. But when your body doesn’t react to an infection, that’s not a good sign, even if the reaction seems like a bad thing. “For example, people whose immune systems are weak may not mount the fever response expected when infected,” she says.
That being said, here are seven seemingly gross things that actually mean your immune system is healthy.
1. Passing Gas
You’ve probably heard that the farty effects of beans means heart health, but passing lots of gas can also signal that your immune system is doing its job.
“A healthy gut produces moderate gas due to digestion by the gut bacteria, so people may pass gas more than once a day," Stacy Tucker, a registered nurse and co-founder of Almeda Labs, tells Bustle. If your gut microbiome is working properly, she says, it will help your body absorb as much crucial nutrition as possible, which is a good sign for your immune health. That being said, Tucker says it's a good idea to check in with a specialist if you have excess gas, which may be an indicator of some underlying problems like inflammation (which is an immune response by your body).
2. Soft Poop
You might be surprised to learn that what comes out of your body is a pretty good sign of what’s happening inside. Specifically, what your poop looks like can point to whether or not your immune system is working properly. “When your poop is big, soft, and formed, it's evidence that your digestion is working well,” Robyn Openshaw, a nutrition researcher, holistic health expert, and author of Vibe, tells Bustle. “You're absorbing nutrients, and your immune system is functioning reasonably well,” she says.
Texture isn’t the only thing to watch for, though. Openshaw says that your feces output should ideally add up to the length between your fingertips and your elbow.
3. Body Odor
Weird body smells can seem like an indication that something isn’t quite right, but according to one expert, being a little stinky can sometimes be a good thing. “Oddly enough, body odor can mean your immune system is healthy,” Anthony DeLuca, a certified nutrition specialist and CEO of Nomad Body, tells Bustle. Your body detoxes itself through expelling sweat through your skin, he says. “The pungent smell of body odor can actually be a sign of negative feedback that your immune system is working to detoxify.”
4. Watery Mucus
“The color of your mucus is considered an accurate indicator of your overall health,” Caleb Backe, a certified personal trainer and health and wellness expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. More specifically, watery and clear mucus is a pretty good sign that your immune system is functioning as it should be. Having the sniffles can be annoying, but when your mucus is doing its job keeping the lining of your nose moist, you’ll produce about a liter of the stuff every day. “Your mucus is part of your immune system's defense and acts like a barrier for germs, trapping them so they don’t enter your body,” Backe says.
5. Your Poop Doesn't Smell Very Bad
If you can leave the bathroom without needing to spray an air freshener or light a candle, you might have a very healthy immune system. Openshaw says that foul-smelling stool indicates that your food is staying in your gut too long before being absorbed or eliminated. If things are functioning as they should be, on the other hand, the things you eat likely won’t have time to putrefy before being expelled.
6. Regular Bowel Movements
If you’re feeling constipated and things aren’t passing through your body as smoothly as you’d like, that’s a good indication that your immune system might not be super healthy, Backe says. But regular pooping and good overall digestion points to good immune health. “Between 70 percent to 80 percent of your immune tissue is situated in your digestive tract, which means that your digestive health is often a reflection of your immune health,” he says.
7. Having A Fever
“A healthy immune system means your body acts appropriately when it comes in contact with an infection,” Dr. Guerrero-Wooley says. “This means symptoms like fever and chills are normal.” Obviously, having a constant fever doesn’t mean that your immune system is healthy though, she says. Your body should recover in a reasonable amount of time depending on the infection, so a cold should only last between seven and 10 days. If you notice this specific symptom for longer than that, your immune system might actually be struggling, so it’s probably best to check in with your doctor.
No matter how unsavory some of these weird symptoms may seem, don't sweat it. They're signs that your body is actually doing its job.