Most preschool kids consider boogers to be a fine delicacy that rivals jelly beans in both taste and texture. Their fingers are constantly mining for the stuff, despite smacks and scolding from disgusted parents. However, a new scientific theory suggests we should be actively encouraging kids to eat their snot. What's more, we should be rolling up our sleeves and joining them.
Sucking finger picture from Shutterstock
Last week, Scott Napper, a biochemistry professor at the University of Saskatchewan in Canada, made headlines around the world when he enlisted students to pick their nose and eat it in a bid to discover the health benefits of nasal fluid. The results of the slightly icky study are expected to be released in a few weeks.
"I’ve got two beautiful daughters, and they spend an amazing amount of time with their fingers up their nose,” Napper said in an interview with CBC. "And without fail, it goes right into their mouth afterwards. Could they just be fulfilling what we’re truly meant to do?"
Napper's snot hypothesis is as follows: the ingestion of nasal secretions exposes people to the airborne pathogens in their environment which in turn strengthens their immune system; especially in winter months.
Napper also notes that snot has a "sugary taste" which may be a signal to our body that it's meant to be ingested (or in Napper words; "maybe [it] tastes sweet to tantalize you to eat it").
Intrigued, we spoke to Professor Richard Boyd, director of the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories at Monash University who specialises in this sort of thing. According to Boyd, Napper's theory is nothing to sneeze at:
The concept of eating your own nasal fluid is not without some common sense. Nasal fluid is rich in antibiotics; it's basically an anti-infection barrier. The reason we have it in the first place is to protect against infection. When you have a cold or flu and you take tablets to dry up your nose, you're actually taking away an important bacterial defence mechanism. By ingesting nasal fluid, you're getting it to do the same duties in the gastrointestinal tract, which is already highly anti-bacterial. So there is some logic behind it.
Just for the hell of it, we also asked Boyd if eating ear wax had any health benefits:
Not that I know of. But your ears are producing wax as a physical barrier to stop infections getting in, so maybe [eating it] is not that ridiculous.
Regardless of what Napper's study discovers, we can't really see this habit catching on -- the social stigma would be too great even if it cured cancer. Boyd is in agreement: "I think it's a bit too quirky to become mainstream. I'd advise that you're probably better off leaving it in your nose."
What's the weirdest/grossest thing you've ever eaten for its alleged health benefits? Can anyone top my human placenta pizza? Let us know in the comments section below.