10 Fake Facts About Your Body That Sound True
10 Funny Digestion Facts (Seriously)
Ever wonder what happens to your gorgeous porcini risotto once it leaves the plate and slips down your esophagus? Mary Roach did, and the hilarious science writer chronicled her adventures down the alimentary canal in her new book,Gulp. Fair warning: Things don’t end up as pretty as they start.
Gulptakes you deep inside your digestive system, out in the Arctic to explore the culture of eating organs, and inside a pet food lab to find out why dogs love the taste of rotting cadavers. Here’s a preview of 10 cool things you’ll learn fromGulp:
1) Laundry detergent—it’s just like spit. You know how laundry detergent is always packed with “stain-fighting enzymes”? Those are actually digestive enzymes—like amylase, which breaks down starch, and lipase, which breaks down fat. So basically, you wash your clothes in a big human mouth? “It makes perfect sense,” Roach tells us. “The same foods you put in your mouth, you often drop on your clothes.” Not that spit works as an instant stain remover, Roach found. For that, even saliva experts turn to Tide stain pens.
2) Narwhal tastes better than chicken. Of all the weird things Mary Roach ate inGulp—the beginnings of cat food, rancid olive oil—her favorite was muktuk. That’s the skin of a narwhal, an Arctic whale with a unicorn-esque tusk. The dish is an Inuit staple. “A lot of other cultures see that organ meats are not only tasty, but also really nutritious,” she says. “Narwhal is kind of nutty. It’s got a pleasingly rubbery texture—well, not rubbery, that sounds bad—but it’s kind of similar to eating snail.” Plus, it’s packed with vitamin A!
3) There’s lots of room in a rumen. Ever wonder what the inside of a living cow feels like? Once again, Mary Roach did. So she traveled to the University of California at Davis to explore the largest of a cow’s four stomachs, called the rumen. Unlike humans, whose tummies are more concerned with disinfecting food than holding large amounts of it, cows graze all day on low-nutrition grass and ground detritus. They need such big stomachs to sort out the nutrients.
“It’s hot and a little scary because the contractions of the rumen are really powerful,” Roach says. With the storage space of a 30-gallon trashcan, the cavity is “like a giant fermenter-composter-mixing vat; I was a little scared I’d break a finger. I guess awe was what I felt.
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