Parents are always telling kids not to pick their nose, and especially not to, ahem, eat their findings. “It’s gross,” we discourage. “You’re going to get sick!”
Well, that may not actually be true. In fact, research actually says otherwise: That eating your boogers could help to keep you healthy.
Yep, it sounds crazy, but it’s true: Research has found that there are bacteria in our boogers that is actually good for our oral hygiene. Um, ew? And also, huh?
No, really. Scientists have found that the “salivary mucins” in our mucus can help to protect our teeth from developing cavities. And oral health is a crucial cornerstone of overall health.
It probably comes as no surprise that studies have shown a link between gum disease and heart disease. And daily flossing is said to have a positive impact on your life expectancy (although other research shows it might not be all it’s cracked up to be). So apparently, along with regular flossing and brushing, booger-eating may be part of a healthy oral hygiene program.
One scientist has even said that boogers could help boost the body’s overall immunity. The idea falls into the “hygiene hypothesis,” which posits that exposure to germs and certain infections at a young age could actually help build a child’s immune system.
“From an evolutionary perspective, we evolved under very dirty conditions and maybe this desire to keep our environment and our behaviors sterile isn’t actually working to our advantage,” the scientists behind the booger-immunity theory told CBC News.
However, before you start giving your kids (or yourself) the green light to start digging in, be aware. Nose-picking can come with some dangers.
First of all, it can cause abrasions in your nose and lead to nosebleeds. Secondly, while salivary mucins may be good for our teeth, the germs on our fingers can spread nasty germs quickly. The average person’s hands have around 150 types of bacteria on them. While regular hand-washing can help to decrease these germs and prevent the spread of bacteria, bringing them into direct contact with your nose is a pretty quick way to introduce that bacteria into your system.
In fact, the area between the bridge of your nose to the corners of your mouth is actually called the “Danger Triangle of the Face,” because the blood supply to this area makes it possible for nasal infections to spread to the brain. Yes, it’s unlikely, but it’s a risk … not to mention, picking your nose is just kind of gross.
Would you ever consider picking your nose (and eating it) or is this one health habit you’re OK with skipping?