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Three Reasons Why 98.6 Is Not The Normal Body Temperature Today

Due to COVID during the last ten months, we’ve had our temperatures taken more than any other time in history. Everyone is noticing the number hardly ever comes back 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit.  98.6 F has been the accepted average body temperature since Dr. Carl Reinhold August Wunderlich found it to be the average armpit temperature of 25,000 patients in 1851. This number was supported by a Stanford University study looking at data from Civil War soldiers. Since the Civil War, the average temperature for men and women has steadily fallen to 97.5 degrees F. What caused the decrease is debatable, and scientists agree it’s several factors. Here are three that make sense to me.

Cleaner Water

Infectious diseases are caused by organisms. Low levels of infectious microorganisms are present in our environment and infect healthy people from time to time. Drinking water can be a way microorganisms enter our bodies, causing us to be sick.  Scientists found elevated temperatures in the body is part of an effective immune response. 

The infecting microbes don’t replicate as fast when your body temperature is higher, and new work from the Journal of Leukocyte Biology shows higher temperatures in the body increase the immune system’s functionality.  Cleaner water means fewer harmful microorganisms are entering our bodies and less need to run at a higher temperature.

Giardia and Cryptosporidium are the most common identified causes of waterborne illness in the United States. Municipal water treatments are used to ensure water for drinking is safe. One of the most common methods is to treat water with chlorine chemicals. Water used for drinking coming from lakes, rivers, and reservoirs is also usually filtered.  Private wells have their problems with contamination and should be tested every year. During times of flooding, they should be tested more frequently.  Even with all the safety measures in place, the United States still has cities with poor tap water. You can find a list of the 12 cities with the worst tap water in the US from Business Insider here.

Lower Metabolic Rates

Today, people weigh more than they use to and have less need to move. As a result, metabolic rates are lower, and your body uses less energy, which causes it to run a little cooler. In this case, the temperature decline is a wake-up call to move. Today it’s easier than ever to get the essentials needed to live. It’s more important than ever to make time to exercise.  Oh, and by the way, when you do exercise, make sure you replace the fluids lost through sweat. The best fluid for this is water. Depending on variables like speed and temperature, you may need to replenish 1 – 2 pints of water when walking a mile.

More Comfortable Lives

It is much easier today than it was 100 years ago to keep our homes’ temperature at a comfortable level. Heating and air conditioning are standard today. A more constant air temperature means we work less to keep our bodies at a comfortable temperature. This leads to a reduced temperature.

So when the person takes your temperature and tells you it 97.5, there is no need to worry you are a cold person.  The reduction in human temperature has been occurring for many years. It is mostly due to progress, but not all progress is good, and some of the changes will require additional action from you.  The transformations taking us away from nature are easy and fun to combat. Whether it’s in gardening, farming, or simply hiking, we can always be physically and spiritually healthy.

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