9 "Gross" Things Your Body Does That Are Actually Signs That You’re Healthy
It's important to pay attention to your body, and watch out for signs that things are changing or becoming uncomfortable, since these symptoms can be a sign of a health problem. But if you're wondering how to tell if you're healthy, sometimes the more interesting things our body does can be a good indication.
Think along the lines of large or frequent bowel movements, various discharges, and other interesting byproducts of the body. "Most 'gross' bodily functions are normal, or are at least the body's way of trying to fix an issue," health expert Jaya Jaya Myra tells Bustle. So it's important to embrace them, in all of their glory.
Do, however, pay attention to things that seem out of the ordinary. "If something seems off to you (off meaning different than what is normal for you) definitely have it checked out as it may mean you need to bring a particular area of your health or grooming back into balance," Myra says.
Your body is always giving you clues about your health, so it's important to look out for them. Besides, it's interesting to watch it all happen — and even better to know when it's a sign of good health. Here, a few unexpected things your body does that may seem surprising or strange, but are usually nothing to worry about.
1. Having Large Bowel Movements
It can be shocking to go to the bathroom, only to realize that you really went to the bathroom. But you know what? Large bowel movements can be a sign of good health.
"If you have huge, well-formed bowel movements, sans food particles — like a giant brown chubby snake in the toilet — you are a rock star," Dr. Elizabeth Trattner, a Chinese and Integrative Medicine expert, tells Bustle. "Well-formed and big [bowl movements] mean your digestive system is on point. Extra bonus if they are every day at the same time."
2. Going To The Bathroom Several Times A Day
Large bowel movements can be shocking. But so can frequent bowel movements. If you're going to the bathroom more than one time per day, you might think it's a problem. And yet, this can also be a sign of good health.
"Most [people] are shocked to hear that we are supposed to poop two to three times a day, or every time we eat a meal," Shannon Conklin, a certified colon hydrotherapist and director of Fluid Water Therapy in NYC, tells Bustle. "It’s not what you are eating that is immediately supposed to come out the other end. However, it’s suppose to start your digestive system's peristalsis to move out what you had eaten [approximately] 12 hours prior. You will be hard-pressed to find a completely healthy person that is constipated. Our body needs to get its waste out. The more efficiently and effectively you do that, the healthier your body will be."
Of course, this level of frequency doesn't have to happen for everyone. According to WebMD, depending on your age, diet, and activity level, it's considered within normal range to poop three times a week, before you're constipated. Any less or more than that, and it may be a good idea to see a doctor.
3. Producing Earwax
If you've ever swabbed out your ears and wondered what's up with all that wax, know that you're not alone. Everyone has wax in their ears, to one degree or another, and that's a good thing.
"Earwax, officially known as cerumen, comes from specialized glands and is produced to lubricate and protect the inner ear canal," Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert at Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. "In addition to creating an effective fence against foreign particles, earwax also has antimicrobial properties to keep infections at bay [and] this viscous secretion also serves as a protective sound barrier for the eardrum."
We've all been trained to think of earwax as "gross," and many of us try to remove it with cotton swabs. But it's much safer to just let it be. "As earwax dries out, new cerumen is produced and secreted, while your jaw movements help propel the old wax out," Backe says. So it'll wiggle out all on its own.
If you want to, it's fine to gently remove visible wax from the outside of your ear canal. Just don't jam a cotton swab in too far, as that can lead to the wax becoming impacted in your ear. Or worse — a punctured eardrum.
4. Excreting Lots Of Fluid
While it may seem surprising that your body excretes vaginal fluid all the live long day, this fluid is actually a sign of health. And it can come in handy in a variety of ways — especially if you are trying to conceive or are sexually active.
"Cervical fluid is the technical term for the spots you see on your underwear," Kristen N. Burris L.Ac., M.S.T.O.M., Dip. Ac tells Bustle. "It varies in color and texture but in an ideal world it's just like the white of a raw egg: clear, stringy, and slippery." If you're trying to get pregnant, this fluid will help sperm get where it needs to go to meet up with an egg, Burris says. But it also acts as a natural lubricant to make sex more fun and comfortable.
Do, however, watch out for changes. "When you start to notice changes in color or smell ... it may mean you have an infection or you have some hormonal changes," Burris says. "If you were once slippery and you notice you have become dry," for example, it's time to see your doctor to figure out what might be wrong.
5. Passing Gas
While it may be considered embarrassing to pass gas, it's a perfectly health thing to do. “Passing gas is considered a faux pas but it’s actually an important part of gut health," Dr. Sonja Kukuljian, a gut health expert and group manager at Freedom Foods, tells Bustle. "When you eat products with lots of prebiotic fibers ... these fibers pass undigested into your large intestine and as your good gut bacteria uses these prebiotics as their own food to build up more of their own kind, they produce some of their own ‘wind’ or ‘gas’."
That's why, as you digest, it's not uncommon to have to pass gas a few hours later. Same goes for passing gas after drinking carbonated, beverages as the gasses need to expel from your body.
Gas can be a sign of a problem when it's accompanied by other health symptoms that might point to digestive health issues, such as irritable bowel syndrome or a food intolerance. If your stomach hurts, you have diarrhea, or you seem to be passing more gas than usual, let your doctor know.
6. Forming Thick Foot Calluses
If the bottoms of your feet are thick with calluses, never fear. "A thick layer of callous on the bottom your feet is a sign that your feet are healthy and you have good circulation," Barbara Bergin, MD, a board-certified orthopedic surgeon, tells Bustle. "It protects the bottom of your foot from injury, because the natural human being would be running around barefooted."
Just like earwax, it's often safer to leave your calluses alone. "Please don't scrape every bit of that callous off at the local nail salon," Dr. Bergin says. She recommends removing just enough that you're comfortable and happy with how it looks, and leaving the rest intact.
7. Eyes Moving When You Sleep
It may sound strange, but did you know your eyes roll around and move while you're asleep? "If you're getting the right quantity and quality of sleep, you'll spend a considerable amount of time, especially in the second half of the night, in REM (rapid eye movement) sleep," Chris Brantner, sleep expert and founder of Sleep Zoo, tells Bustle.
When you're in REM sleep, your eyes will dart back and forth. "If you've ever seen someone deep in sleep, you may have seen this and it probably freaked you out — it's really creepy looking," Brantner says. "However, this is part of healthy sleep."
When you're in REM sleep, you won't know it and you won't feel your eyes moving. You might feel tired the next morning, though, if you never reached this deeper stage of sleep.
8. Flaking, Shedding Skin
It might be shocking to watch your skin flake off. And it might be annoying to deal with dry patches. But this is yet another common body process. "The sloughing off of dead skin is what keeps our skin healthy and vibrant, and the old stuff has to go somewhere," Myra says. "Soaps, washcloths, and sponges can get off a lot of the dead skin without us noticing it, but if there are areas that you don't regularly exfoliate or pay close attention to, don't be surprised when they have seemingly more than normal amounts of skin to shed!"
9. Producing Boogers
Boogers get a bad rap, but their presence is a good thing. As Dr. Bergin says, "Oily nose hairs and mucous help capture dirt that might otherwise go into your upper respiratory tract. Together they form the lovely ... amalgam known as the booger." And she says they're a sign of a well-functioning immune system.
Your body might even ramp up its booger production when you're sick, as a way of fighting off infection. When that's the case, you might notice that they turn green, which is a sign your immune system is working.
All of these goings on may seem odd, surprising — or maybe even a little bit "gross" — but more often than not they're signs your body is healthy. Do, however, let your doctor know about anything out of the ordinary, just to be safe.