The human body is amazing — and strange. It functions thanks to careful cooperation and coordination between organs such as the heart, lungs, and brain, as well as entire systems that these organs form a part of, such as the cardiovascular, respiratory, and nervous systems.

The brain tells the heart to beat, which then pumps blood to the lungs, where the blood picks up oxygen before heading back to the heart, where another beat sends it out into the body to replenish cells with oxygen. That’s amazing, but it’s hardly strange to you — they taught you that in high school. What you didn’t learn about are some of the more bizarre links between organs, many of which were only recently discovered. Moreover, these links can have a profound effect on your physical and mental health. Here’s a look at some.

Mouth and Heart

Gum disease boosts a person’s risk of contracting a heart condition by 20 percent, according to research cited by Healthline. This may have something to do with bacteria causing inflammation in the soft tissue lining the mouth, which constricts certain arteries and slows the flow of blood. There’s another reason to brush and floss, but it’s not the last.

Mouth and Brain

Poor oral hygiene can lead to a number of mental health disorders. For starters, the bacteria that cause gingivitis seem to travel through the bloodstream to the brain, wreaking havoc on neurons and leading to memory loss and dementia. On a more basic level, bad breath induces social anxiety, which, left unchecked, often ends in depression. Again, brush and floss!

Gut and Brain

The gut-brain axis has been the subject of intense study since researchers discovered that microorganisms living in your intestines influence the cognitive and emotional centers of the brain. That, in turn, affects the production of hormones such as serotonin, which plays a large role in regulating your mood. To ensure a healthy gut, many nutritionists recommend eating probiotic foods such as yogurt that contain living cultures of healthy bacteria, along with taking probiotic supplements and reducing the use of antibiotics.

Gut and Lungs

Although not as well understood as the gut-brain axis, research has been conducted on how gastrointestinal microbes protect against certain allergies and asthma, a respiratory disease in which airways in the lungs constrict, making it difficult to breathe. It’s been known for a long time that chronic lung diseases often coincide with gastrointestinal ailments.

Lungs and Brain

According to research cited by Onlymyhealth, keeping your lungs healthy leads to better cognitive functioning and a stronger brain overall. This can help people maintain their problem-solving abilities as well as their memory recall into old age, when those functions begin to wane. For healthy lungs, quit smoking and exercise.

Liver and Brain

This link is a bit frightening. According to Scientific American, the liver actually “eats” a structure in the brain called the hippocampus, the center of memory. More specifically, both the liver and hippocampus compete for a protein called PPARalpha, with the liver coming out on top among people with a lot of belly fat, another reason for a healthy diet and exercise.

Skin and Bones

Spending time outdoors exposes the skin to the sun’s rays, inducing the production of vitamin D in the largest organ of your body, one that envelopes all the rest. Among its many other functions, that vitamin works with calcium in building bone. The message: Get some sun.

Skin and Brain

It turns out that vitamin D also plays a crucial role in mood regulation. Studies suggest that natural declines in the vitamin during the winter months are related to a drop in the amount of serotonin in the brain. It may be cold, but head outside anyway.

And that’s just the beginning. As science marches forward, it will doubtlessly discover even more strange connections between organs in the human body and how they affect your health in surprising ways.

Stay tuned — and stay healthy!

Image via Pixabay