I love getting my science on, and reading the cleverly named Gulp - Adventures on the Alimentary Canal by Mary Roach recently enabled me to do just that.
Mary Roach takes the reader through the entire digestive process, from smell, taste, saliva and what happens in the stomach to noxious flatus and the colon.
The science of the human body is explained and discussed in layman's terms with a sense of humour and case studies that often left me gagging for more.
I absorbed many nuggets whilst reading Gulp, here's a taste:
Colds and flus aren't spread by drinking from a sick person's glass. They're spread by touching it. One person's finger leaves virus particles on the glass; the next person's picks them up and transfers them to the respiratory tract via an eye-rub or nose-pick. Page 121-122
Nasal regurgitation (when drinking milk and it comes out of your nose) is more common with children, because they are often laughing while eating and because their swallowing mechanism isn't fully developed. Page 139
According to one competitive eater: "Flavour fatigue sets in after three to five minutes; beyond that point everything is more or less equally revolting." Page 192
A grazing cow can produce a hundred gallons of methane a day, vented, as stomach gases typically are, through the mouth. Page 228. I didn't know that they were vented through the mouth, I thought they were emitted as gas!!
Roach lifts the lid on the production of pet food, the purpose of saliva and more (you'll be shocked to learn how much saliva you swallow in a day). I could go on and on, but I think you get the drift. Gulp is a funny, educational and thought provoking read that takes a good look at the gross and the taboo inside the human body and I loved it.
My rating = ****
All puns in this review were intentional. Buy your own copy of Gulp from Boomerang Books.