7 Or maybe it’s those dancing sugarplums. Gorging on high-glycemic foods (lots of sugar and starch) can concentrate tryptophan in your blood plasma, boosting its effect.
8 Most of the body’s serotonin, a major mood-influencing hormone, is made not in the head but in the stomach lining.
9 The calories you burn simply digesting food account for 5 to 15 percent of your energy expenditure. Protein and alcohol require the most energy.
10 Chemistry of a cheap date: Women produce only 60 percent as much alcohol dehydrogenase, the enzyme that neutralizes booze, as men do.
11 Achalasia, a rare condition that prevents swallowing, can be treated by a shot of Botox, which relaxes the esophageal sphincter—and undoubtedly makes it look years younger.
12 Pica, an eating disorder in which sufferers develop an appetite for nonnutritive substances such as paint and dirt, affects up to 30 percent of young children. Its cause is unknown but possibly linked to subtle mineral deficiencies.
13 Your stomach’s primary digestive juice, hydrochloric acid, can dissolve metal, but plastic toys that go down the hatch will come out the other end as good as new. (A choking hazard is still a choking hazard, though.)
14 Same with crayons, hair, and chewing gum—all of which will pass through within a few days, no matter what you’ve heard.
15 You, however, are easily digestible. The pain of pancreatitis comes from fat-digesting enzymes leaking from the pancreatic duct system into surrounding tissues, literally eating you from within.
16 Water, enzymes, base salts, mucus, and bile create about two gallons of liquid that enters the large intestine. Only six tablespoons or so comes out.
17 Without the colon’s marvelous ability to recover bodily fluids, animals could not survive on dry land.
18 The loudest human burp ever recorded—107.1 decibels, about as loud as a chain saw from three feet—was produced by Londoner Paul Hunn in September 2008. On TV, no less.
19 Brown is the new green: In 2005 the Ashden Award for Sustainable Energy was given to a Rwandan prison that used the methane from human feces to fuel cooking stoves.
20 That one program saved more than $1.5 million. Think of the global implications.