Don't Pick Your Nose: Never Mind, Boogers May Be Good for You

First Posted: May 01, 2013 09:41 AM EDT

It might be a bit disgusting, and it's certainly not appropriate in public, particularly in front of your grandma, but new research suggests that picking your noise and yes, eating it, may actually be good for you.

For kids across the world, this news is certain to put a smile on their faces and possibly, another booger in their mouths. According to Biochemist Scott Napper from the University of Saskatchewan, this could simply be another way for the immune system to sample pathogens that surround us every day. Napper indeed believes that snot has a sugary taste which might actually be the body's way of saying "Eat this, all of you, and learn from it."

"I've got two beautiful daughters and they spend an amazing amount of time with their fingers up their nose," Napper said, according to CBC News. "And without fail, it goes right into their mouth afterwards. Could they just be fulfilling what we're truly meant to do?"

Researchers believe that this may be a similar sign that the hygiene hypothesis is working in action, otherwise known as the problems that can come from first-world cleanliness, which may lead to allergies.

"All you would need is a group of volunteers," Napper said. "You would put some sort of molecule in all their noses, and for half of the group they would go about their normal business and for the other half of the group, they would pick their nose and eat it. Then you could look for immune responses against that molecule and if they're higher in the booger-eaters, then that would validate the idea."

Except we swallow our snot every day. (Hello, allergy season!) As Vanderbilt University's William Schaffner told ABC News, "because it's part of your own body fluids, you swallow nasal secretions all the time during the day and while you're asleep.""

So maybe the booger hypothesis is just a good way to make sure Napper's students stay awake in class. But it wouldn't be the most outlandish thing scientists have gotten funding to study, either.

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