What makes up a person? We all have bones, muscles, ligaments, organs, veins and arteries (and so on!) that are connected to create a functioning body. We move our fingers and toes without thinking about it, we speak to tell stories and offer advice, and our inner workings help transport blood, oxygen and other signals so we continue to motor right along.
But have you ever thought about how one part of your body is connected to another? Or better yet, what this connection can reveal about us?
Various studies on the subject have been carried out, and the results are quite fascinating. Here are five body connections that you may not have known about – and what they can tell you about your health.
Those baby blues! Often said to be the gateway to one’s soul, your eyes actually say a lot about your brain. A study in June 2013 by Psychological Science revealed that the veins in your eyes show how healthy your brain is: Those with larger vessels scored lower on IQ tests as opposed to those with smaller vessels. These vessels are not easily seen and are located within the retina. A thorough eye exam by an optometrist will ensure a proper inspection of your vessel size.
How was this connection made? Eye vessels are similar to those of brain vessels in that of function, creation and structure. Although the researchers cannot say for sure the exact relationship between retina vessel size and cognitive function, they hypothesized it may have to do with the amount of oxygen supply that is carried to the brain.
Even though your vision may be top-notch, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t continue to get your eyes checked. Eyes can also reveal dementia, cardiovascular health and stroke. Although you may not be experiencing any symptoms, having an expert look into your eyes can detect early onset of these conditions.
If you believe wrinkles are just a natural process of aging, you’re only partially correct. In 2013, researchers from Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands, published in the Journals of Gerontology, examined two groups: A group of individuals with a high risk of cardiac disease, and another with a lower risk. Those in the higher risk group had far more wrinkles and aged skin than the other group.
The second phase of the study noted the blood pressure of participants in both groups. The results revealed the same: Those with more youthful-looking skin also had lower blood pressure.
If you start to notice more “sag” in your face, this very well may be an indicator for you to check your blood pressure and take steps to prevent cardiovascular disease. Keep your weight in the normal range, eat healthy (more fatty fish and mind the sodium), and exercise daily.
Checking our pulse is pretty routine, and simply signifies that our heart is beating at a certain rate. But other information it reveals is the flexibility in our aorta. Flexibility is a good thing. Stemming from the left ventricle of the heart, the aorta is the largest artery we have; it distributes oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. When this artery stiffens up, it can lead to an increased risk of heart attack or stroke. Why? Elevated blood pressure.
The new method of checking the stiffness of this artery can be done with the pulse in your finger. It no longer involves an examination of the femoral artery, a large artery in the thigh which transports blood to other arteries. Get yours checked at your next doctor’s visit.
Having trouble sleeping may lead to serious eye troubles, especially if you have sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder where the sleeper will pause in their breathing. The duration of the pause can be anywhere from 10 seconds to several minutes.
When this happens, sleep is disrupted and it often wakes the person up as they try to catch their breath. The result is fatigue the next day, an increase in the risk of catching pneumonia and, ultimately, a higher likelihood of developing glaucoma.
Research out of Taiwan has bridged the link between sleep apnea and glaucoma. The infrequent breathing reduces oxygen to the brain which triggers damage to the optic nerve. This damage can lead to glaucoma, a condition which damages the eyes and can lead to blindness within five years of diagnosis. In other words, quality sleep is crucial for your vision and overall health.
Not only for kissing, talking or applying lipstick, your lips can also catch pesky viruses such as cold sores. As annoying and unsightly as they are, the number of cold sores you get can reveal your likelihood of developing Alzheimer’s. The research comes out of Columbia University where scientists followed adults between 59 to 79 years of age for eight years.
The findings showed those who contracted the herpes simplex 1 and 2 – cold sores – more often, also were more likely to have poorer cognition. How exactly are the two related? The herpes virus infects the lip membrane and, as one investigator in the study explained to PloS ONE Magazine, “These viral particles burst out of the cells of the mucous membrane and enter sensory nerve cells where they travel inside the nerve toward the brain.” So the virus is able to screw with your brain cells.
Best way to help yourself and your memory? Treat cold sores immediately; the longer the virus lasts, the higher your risk of developing dementia and memory issues.
Interesting detective work, isn’t it? Our body reveals things to us in unique ways. It’s important not to ignore any sign or abnormality. If you notice any changes in appearance or routine of your body and all its interconnected parts, it’s best to consult your doctor.