The Mysteries of the Human Body
February 13, 2019 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Help me gain a better understanding of how my body works!

In the last two years I have read several books that have opened my eyes about my own body in a very "Biology 101" kind of way. I am now looking for additional resources that can expand my knowledge of how human bodies work, and potentially apply that knowledge to better understand how MY body is working. (Note: I'm healthy, 33/F, no major ailments, not seeking a diet/etc.)

I’d like to learn more about my body more generally. I am particularly interested in books, podcasts and audiobooks that will help me understand things like:
* muscle development - how do food and exercise play a role, and why does massage feel so damn good?
* sleep, how does it work and why (jury's still out on this, right?)
* My eyes - eyes and vision are so cool! How does that work?!

I'm also very interested in a science-based approach to understanding how food impacts your body's performance, but I'm really wary of reading diet books. My weight is OK. Consider me Highly Skeptical of most diets.

If it helps, previously I read + got a lot from:
* This Naked Mind, which taught me about how alcohol affects the brain and dramatically reduced my interest in drinking;
* Taking Charge of your Fertility, which taught me about the physical impacts of hormonal cycles in a way I had never understood, leading me to a genuinely deeper understanding of my physical and emotional health (and giving me a sense of awe at my body!)
* Expecting Better, which taught me about pregnancy by getting into the actual physical/body processes, and ran through study findings regarding the risks of certain activities (so, rather than issuing blanket recommendations of “don’t do this, it’s dangerous!” this book helped me see why certain things were risky, while other activities were less risky)

These books were great because they gave me knowledge that I could then use as a lens toward my own body, to understand what was going on with it. Really my goal is to better understand the physical self, since apparently merely owning a body doesn’t help me learn - I need to be formally taught.

I’d really prefer something accessible and “light” that can be easily absorbed - ie, a popular science type books & podcasts. Repetition is fine, perhaps even better (short attention span...).

SIDE NOTE: I recommend that all vagina-owners read Taking Charge of Your Fertility (or a similar book on gynecological health). I thought I was well educated - reader, I was not.
posted by samthemander to Health & Fitness (14 answers total) 64 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As someone who has what I call a "princess tummy" Gut by Giulia Enders was educational and delightful!
posted by lindseyg at 1:10 PM on February 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Some great recommendations previously.
posted by hydra77 at 1:12 PM on February 13, 2019

Dr. Jonathan Miller's excellent overview, The Body in Question, older but still so revealing.
posted by Freedomboy at 2:10 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: No word of a lie - The Anatomy Colouring Book is brilliant. It was the assigned book in a high school kinesiology course that I took, and it caused the names of various tendons and ligaments, muscle groups, and skeletal structures to stick in my head to this day, many years later. All you need are some pencil crayons, and it's something you can do in your spare time for a few minutes at a pop, like a crossword puzzle. YMMV, but the information stuck with me.

Sawbones is a pretty informative podcast, and deals alot with "we used to think about things this way, but here's what's changed in terms of how we think about X body system/illness/etc. over time."

* My eyes - eyes and vision are so cool! How does that work?!

As Seen From Here is an opthalmology podcast.

Dr. Glaucomflecken is an opthalmologist who tells jokes and relates eye facts on Twitter, if following people on social media is a thing you do.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 2:33 PM on February 13, 2019 [4 favorites]

Best answer: It's not out until October but I'm really looking forward to Bill Bryson's The Body: A Guide for Occupants.
posted by Twicketface at 3:18 PM on February 13, 2019 [15 favorites]

Just heard the author of Good to Go on Fresh Air. Great science based book on recovery - what athletes (all of us!) should or shouldn't do. (electrolytes, hydration, ice or heat etc).

Good to Go: What the Athlete in All of Us Can Learn from the Strange Science of Recovery
by Christie Aschwanden

Going to buy this book for everyone in my family.
posted by cda at 4:44 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

Another thing I am going to do - because I want to learn more about taking care of my family - is I am ordering these nursing reference cards.
posted by cda at 4:52 PM on February 13, 2019 [1 favorite]

This is a nice, short video on sleep that I show to my high school Psych students. We don't know everything about sleep but we're learning more! The glymphatic system is fascinating.
posted by gnutron at 5:31 PM on February 13, 2019

Best answer: Haven’t read it yet but have read extracts and good reviews of Why We Sleep by Matthew Walker.
posted by ellieBOA at 9:40 PM on February 13, 2019 [3 favorites]

+1 to Why We Sleep.
posted by trotzdem_kunst at 10:19 PM on February 13, 2019

Mary Roach's books, such as Bonk and Gulp, might be good here. To a lesser degree, since they apply to how humans face the environmental challenges of wartime and space travel respectively, there are also Grunt and Packing for Mars.
posted by Sunburnt at 11:22 PM on February 13, 2019 [6 favorites]

I've been really enjoying I Contain Multitudes by Ed Yong, which is about our microbial biome.
posted by backwards compatible at 5:06 AM on February 14, 2019

If you want a bit of an entertaining break, check out cells at work. It was a manga and then an anime about the inner workings of the human body. It's loosely accurate and sorta adorable but not serious.
posted by zengargoyle at 1:00 PM on February 14, 2019 [1 favorite]

Learn cool stuff about your brain by reading anything from Oliver Sacks.
posted by SyraCarol at 3:15 PM on February 14, 2019

« Older Son switching from SSI to SSDI?   |   Minneapolis in June with 9 month old? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.