Winter is coming, and that means that everyone is busy getting flu shots, pestering their grandmothers for home cold remedies and distancing themselves from anyone who shows so much as a sniffle. As it turns out, however, avoiding illness this winter could be far easier (and more disgusting) than you've been led to believe.
Sucking finger picture from Shutterstock
We first reported on this discovery back in 2013, when a Canadian biochemistry professor, Scott Napper claimed that picking your nose and eating the results could be good for your health. The theory is similar to the idea of vaccination — ingesting nasal secretions exposes you to the airborne pathogens in your environment, which then strengthens your immune system. Napper also points out that snot has a 'sugary taste' which may be intended to tantalise you to eat it.
Lifehacker Australia also followed up on this theory with Monash University's Professor Richard Boyd, director of the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories, who said that the theory may actually have some merit:
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.
Yet as Today I Found Out points out in a story on the subject, you don't actually have to transfer your boogers from nose to mouth via finger to ingest them, as you're likely to be passively ingesting your nasal mucus on a daily basis. It's even likely that this snot we're ingesting without noticing is giving us the kinds of benefits that Napper claims from actively eating it.
Three years on from our original story, it still seems highly unlikely that eating boogers is going to catch on as some kind of health fad, but it could make for a good excuse if you're caught mining for that proverbial gold.
Lifehacker's Classic Hacks is a regular segment where we dig up the most popular, useful and offbeat advice from our archives and update it for your modern lifestyle.