Our belly buttons contain a "rainforest of bacteria"

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Our Belly Buttons Contain 'Rain Forest' Of Bacteria

You might not think your belly button and a rainforest have anything in common, but scientists revealed that they actually do.

In 2011, the Belly Button Biodiversity project began at North Carolina State University. After an undergrad expressed an idea to explore what's in belly buttons, biologists at the university decided to take it seriously. They took swabs of 60 volunteers' belly buttons, and what they found intrigued them so much that they decided to continue their research.

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The team found over 2,000 species in their navels -- and more than half of them could be new to science. There were on average 67 species present in the belly button; some people had as few as 29 and as many as 107.

There were no species that showed up in every single sample, but eight species appeared in over 70 percent of samples. If any of those eight species were present, it was probably in large numbers. Many species, however, only showed up in one person.

"That makes the belly button a lot like rain forests," said Dr. Robert Dunn, ecologist at North Carolina State University.

RELATED: What excessive sweating can mean for your health

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Your Excessive Sweating Could Be Sending A Critical Message About Your Health
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Your Excessive Sweating Could Be Sending A Critical Message About Your Health

#1: You're extremely stressed

We’ve all sweat in situations that weren’t caused by the weather, like when we’re nervous, getting stage fright, or talking to someone important.

But did you know that stress sweat and heat sweat come from different glands altogether?

Eccrine sweat is produced all over our body, and it’s the type of sweat that keeps us cool in warm temperatures.

Apocrine sweat is secreted when we’re stressed, and it produces a thicker, smellier odor.

So if your B.O. is very strong, and lingers for a long time, it might be time to unwind and lower your stress levels.

#2: You're pregnant — or menopausal

These two conditions are very opposite of one another — but they can both cause excessive sweat.

According to Livescience, shifting hormone levels cause your endocrine system to go a bit awry.

This can cause your body temperature regulation system to go off the fritz, making you boiling hot at a moment’s notice.

So if you are constantly struggling with your body temperature, you could potentially be pregnant — or, if you’re past that age, it could mean that you are getting hot flashes.

#3: You need to drink more water

Prevention.com states if your sweat is stinging your eyes or causing a streaky-what residue on your skin, it could mean that you need to hydrate yourself more.

This could be a sign that you need to drink more water to balance out the contents of the sweat.

It could also mean that you’re drinking a lot of alcohol, which can also be combated with more water!

#4: You are at risk for heatstroke

Excess sweat during a run or hike is fine because it’s helping you cool down so you don’t get heatstroke.

But if you suddenly start to sweat less and begin to get dizzy, nauseous, or confused, it could mean that your body has started to experience heat exhaustion and its temperature-regulating methods are no longer working as well.

If this begins to happen, it’s important to find help, stay hydrated, and get to a cooler area.

#5: You might have hyperhidrosis

Hyperhidrosis is a medical condition that causes excessive sweating.

Though it may be hard to tell when sweating gets excessive, hyperhidrosis is usually characterized from an isolated part of the body continuing to become damp.

So if you find yourself sweating excessively from the palms of your hands, the bottoms of your feet, or even your head, this could be a sign of perspiration gone overboard.

#6: You may need to adjust your diet 

If you’re constantly smelling a weird, fishy stench coming from skin, you could potentially have a rare genetic ailment called trimethylaminuria.

This is your body’s inability to break down trimethylamine, which has a powerful, fishy odor. 

If this is the case, you may have to talk to your doctor about avoiding certain foods.

#7: You might have a serious complication

Excessive sweating, even if you’re not working out or straining yourself, could be a sign of heart health problems.

If you’re experiencing a lot of mysterious perspiration, it might be time to make an appointment with your doctor.

Sweat may seem unsightly and smelly at times, but it’s an important part of our body that can help us better understand what’s going on inside.

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"The idea that some aspects of our bodies are like a rain forest—to me it's quite beautiful," he continued. "And it makes sense to me as an ecologist. I understand what steps to take next; I can see how that works."

Given that the team found potentially new species, they will continue their work. They hope to found out what these species are and how they affect human health, if at all.

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