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Why Has The Human Body Temperature Dropped?

Your first instinct on reading that title of the article is to check your body temperature. As humans, we are aware of what our ideal body temperature should be on a warm day or a cold night. Universally there is a common understanding of the average body temperature as per the age group. The normal human body temperature or the average body temperature of a child ranges from 36.6°C to 37.2°C. In comparison, the temperature ranges from 36.1°C to 37.2°C for adults, and this drops even further for senior citizens which is lower than 37°C.

Over the past twenty years, researchers have observed a decline in the average body temperature in adults. This researcher was headed by Michael Gurven, UC Santa Barbara professor and chairman of the campus’s Integrative Anthropological Sciences Unit, and Thomas Kraft along with a team of anthropologists, physicians and researchers. During their research spanning 16 years, they’ve studied the Tsimane population. While observing the indigenous horticulturists in Bolivia, Amazon, the team concluded the speedy decline in the body’s average temperature. They confirmed the current average temperature recorded is now 36.5°C as compared to the earlier minimum body temperature of 37°C. This strange occurrence has caught the eye of many scientists. It’s been almost two centuries that German physician, Carl Wunderlich ascertained 37°C as the normal body temperature. This has been used as a basis by various medical practitioners to determine illness among masses. After such a long time, the question on every reader’s mind is, ‘what has brought about this change?’

As per a study conducted in 2017, lower body temperatures have widely been reported among healthy adults. This fall in body temperatures is attributed to modern healthcare facilities. With the advancement in healthcare options, followed a higher life expectancy, a lower rate of infections and a better quality of life. When an infection attacks the human body, the result is a rise in body temperature. Antibiotics are effective in killing the infection and the after-effects since inception. Respiratory infection in earlier times led to higher body temperatures than having the same respiratory infection more recently. When the thermometer, an instrument used to record body temperatures, indicates a reading of over 38°C, it often means the person has a fever. The body temperature rises during a fever and has to be kept in check.

Body temperature is directly indicative of what is transpiring in the body. Another speculation is that with external temperature regulating facilities such as air-conditioning during summers, and indoor heating during the winters, the internal mechanism of the human body doesn’t have to work as much as earlier to keep the body cool or warm. In a way, you could say that human physiology has evolved with the changing times.

Here Are Five Fun Facts About Your Body You Didn’t Know!

  1. Spicy food can increase your body temperature. By including red capsicum in your diet, the core temperature can significantly increase. When you feel cold the next time, add some red capsicum to your meals to see the difference.
  2. The body temperature differs for men and women. According to a study published in the Lancet, Utah, Salt Lake City in the USA, the core temperature of women’s body is higher than that of men. However, on average, women’s hands are colder than men’s hands.
  3. A fever is not your enemy. Fever plays a significant role in fighting off infections. A Paracetamol can be instrumental in bringing down the temperature, but in reality, the root cause needs attention, the fever is merely a symptom of an infection in the body.
  4. Body temperatures play a crucial role in post-mortem reports. The temperature signifies the accurate time of a person’s demise.
  5. A lie can lower your body temperature. As per a study published in the Journal of Investigative Psychology and Offender Profiling in 2018, with the help of thermal imaging, the team showed how the anxiety caused by a lie led to a drop in the temperature of the nose and a rise in that of the forehead. This is popularly known as ‘The Pinocchio Effect.’