Picking your nose is pretty gross, right? Right. You don’t have to be overly squeamish to agree… digging for gold in public is about as socially unacceptable as laughing at a funeral. How could it get more repulsive? How about this -- picking your nose and then eating it. Just the thought of it makes me cringe… and it brings up a sour old memory of this girl I used to go to elementary school with. Megan (she’ll never read this) was a normal, happy-go-lucky girl, who just so happened to have this sincerely unfortunate habit of picking her nose and then eating the… well, you know. Her notoriety was well-known throughout the school, and her status as a routine sinus-harvester was a day-to-day hot topic on the playground. Once we moved on to middle-school, she must have had some sort of social epiphany, because her nasal fixation and booger consumption thankfully stopped being a thing. Though her habit had dismantled, her reputation remained -- and all throughout highschool I could never bring myself to forget the infamy she brought upon herself.
But maybe Megan wasn’t all that crazy… tons of toddlers and young children exhibit this behavior. It even has its own word -- mucophagy. Could it possibly be evolutionarily-inspired? University of Saskatchewan biochemist Scott Napper thinks so. Napper has theorized that eating boogers poses a survival benefit by introducing to the immune system pathogens and germs that have been trapped and entangled in nasal mucus. Austrian medical doctor Friedrich Bischinger agrees -- he notes that snot contains a powerful biochemical arrangement of antiseptic enzymes that cripple and kill harmful bacteria. Orally introducing these weakened microorganisms could potentially allow the immune system to assess these antigens for antibody production -- all while providing little to no harm to the human body. Napper even suggested that since boogers have a sugary taste (although I cannot vouch for that), mucus may provide a tasty incentive for young children to chow down.
|This isn't Megan...|
|Antibodies in the bloodstream|
While no real studies have been done to confirm this hypothesis, it’s very interesting to think of how this socially frowned-upon habit expressed commonly in children could have evolved to protect the human body from germs. As a side note… I sincerely apologize if you chose to enjoy your lunch while reading this post, but just consider it “food for thought.” The next time you’re feeling like a hypochondriac, enjoy yourself a snack from the goldmine and rest assured -- it’s biology! Also, let me know if you notice any difference in immunity, because I won’t be trying this one out for myself!
Posted by Michael Salhany (6C)
Wow, this is pretty crazy: I would have never thought that eating boogers would ever have any benefit whatsoever. So they not only help strengthen the immune system by exposure to germs, but they also act as a mini natural antibiotic? Maybe eating boogers could be an evolved behavior because it actually as benefits. Who knows.ReplyDelete
Yeah Mitch, it really is bizarre! As biologists, we know that behavior is heavily influenced by genetics. Since immune system strength is a sure-fire indicator of a fit species, it is not overly far-fetched to imagine that this could be an evolved behavior!Delete
Yeah wow indeed! This is grossing me out just thinking about the whole topic, but it does make a lot of sense. The weakened microorganisms could be ingested and the body can make antibodies to them without having to go through the whole "sick" thing, or maybe just shortening the symptoms. If this is true, I don't see why this behavior couldn't be evolved. Interesting post, very original!ReplyDelete
It is really interesting! It's definitely not something people would intuitively think about. If true, who knows what other behaviors might provide unseen benefits to the body? Evolution is such a powerful mechanism that it wouldn't be surprising that many trivial behaviors evolved for survival incentive! Thanks for commenting!Delete
I really enjoyed this post. Do you really think further study will be done? Mostly because the act of nose picking and eating it is so frowned upon?ReplyDelete
It would be difficult to get this kind of study going where the participants actually knew what they were getting themselves into! Someone's bound to do a study one day, but I bet they'd have to pay a small fortune to get people involved!Delete
I never new eating your booger could have any benefits for you, this is very interesting. You showed a picture of a giraffe do you think animals eat them too because its beneficial to their health?ReplyDelete
- Jazmin Granadeno
"Eating boogers is beneficial for health", wow, I would never thought that before reading this article. I never came across with such information. Thank you for letting us know. I will research on this topic.ReplyDelete
I agree with the author! thanks for sharing your knowledge! http://skywritingservice.com/blog/healthy-food-that-you-should-eat-regularly has a list of food that we should eat regularly!ReplyDelete
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Jonathan Eric Haft