What chemicals make up your saliva?

    • Topic: Human Biology

    • Location: Hall of Human Life

    Your body produces many different chemicals to help keep you healthy. Some of these chemicals can be found in your saliva. The different chemicals your body is using to make your saliva might be able to tell doctors about your health. As part of a larger study happening at the Museum of Science, we are exploring one specific chemical that scientists know less about so that we can learn how to use saliva to test people’s health.

    In this study, people (age 12 to 70) will be asked to donate saliva by spitting or drooling into a small test tube, People will also be asked to fill out a short survey about their health.

    We will look at the saliva we have collected for biomarkers – the chemicals that indicate information about your health. We are interested in one of these chemicals and the amount your body makes when you are experiencing inflammation. This chemical is called salivary alkaline phosphatase (S-ALP). S-ALP helps kill cells, but too much may mean that something is wrong and too many healthy cells are dying too. High levels of S-ALP can tell doctors about diseases in your mouth, such as periodontal disease, but also about conditions that affect your whole body such as diabetes or even menopause.

    We want to learn how measuring S-ALP could help doctors diagnose certain metabolic diseases to increase patient comfort and disease prevention.

    Center for Clinical Research, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine

        » Center for Clinical Research

    Activities to Try in the Hall of Human Life

    What’s in Your Walk?

    Find the “How efficient is your walk?” link station in the Food environment. This link station is looking at how you move to give you information about what is happening inside your body when you move.

    Try walking normally at first. How many calories did you burn? Now think about some of the different ways you walk, like when you are walking with a friend through the Museum, running to catch a bus, or anything else you might do on a regular basis. Try walking in some of these different ways to see how moving differently changes the work your body is doing.

    What happens to the calories your body burns when you change how you walk? What does this tell you about what is going on inside your body during these different activities? Could you use this information to guess how many calories other people are burning as you see them move about the world?

    Activities to Try at Home

    Health Signs

    One of the most effective tools at a doctor’s disposal is to ask you how you’re doing. Why is that? What information do you have about your health? How do you get this information? Are there other ways doctors could get this information? Are there things you know that your doctor can’t test for?

    Think about things both big and small – How do you know you might have a cold? How do you know that you might have just gotten a paper cut?

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