Boogers And Health: The Strange Connection
Boogers and Health–Yes, There Really Is a Connection!
Disgusting to some, natural to others, boogers have been part of humanity as long as its existed, get brought up in literature (got some 178,000 hits in Google on this), fretted over in child development circles, and are the bane of parents, especially mothers, who are the ones chiefly involved in dealing with them. Kids are forever rooting out boogers, flinging them, smearing them on their own clothing, others and various surfaces, there to lie in wait for the unwary! There is a pop-up book addressing them, Gizmodo wrote a splendid article covering all sorts of aspects of boogers and myths regarding them. Numerous surprises there, but I wouldn't want to spoil the learning from reading it. So much to learn! Will say that there are some things in it pertaining to boogers and health, the subject of this post.
What emerges is that nose picking is NOT confined to children, being practically as common as that other denied activity, masturbation, among adults. Nor it is all that unusual, horrifying as this may seem to many, for adults to consume them. “Ew!” would be a common reaction to such a revelation, but I can tell you that back when people connected via personals, I saw a detailed characteristics one woman wrote for her ideal man. In it, she made a point of specifying he must NOT pick his nose or eat his boogers! From this, I concluded she'd had direct experiences of this in her past. And now to business!
We're Destroying Our Immune Systems; Boogers Help Counter That
Consumption of boogers seems not only counterintuitive, but anti-survival, too. After all, is not mucus part of the system of barriers intended to keep out nasty intruders in the very air we breathe? Why, then, would a child, never mind an adult, do the opposite routinely and naturally? It's all about the immune system, people. And let's face it, compared to our forebears, ours suck. Modern civilization is so decoupled from nature that normal immune system development doesn't occur because there is so little exposure to that which would challenge it.
When my siblings and I were kids, we pretty much were outdoors most of the time, as were our peers. We played in the dirt, played in mud, touched untold non-sanitized surfaces, shared drink and food, walked through woods and fields, etc. No big deal to us, yet a huge deal now, in a nation increasingly composed of germophobes. Not only do many carry around around hand sanitizer, wipes, or both, but, so help me, some grocery stores now have dispensers for sanitary wipes to use on grocery cart handles. We already know there's a huge problem with antibiotic resistant microbes because of overuse of antibiotics, and with the worsening germophobia, a fear happily supported and reinforced by those providing “protection” from all those contaminants and pathogens, things are likely to get worse before they get better.
What's happening more and more now is that our immune systems are so weak that it takes very little to overwhelm them, something not true for those who grow up in rural areas and other places where all manner of immunological challenges are plentiful. Allergies and food intolerances are practically pandemic, too. In case you missed my point, let me be blunt: In our efforts to protect ourselves, we are unwittingly degrading our capabilities to resist the very germs, viruses, molds and other things we fear, strengthening them and setting ourselves up for even minor diseases to sweep through the populace with deadly effect. Boogers can help counter that lack of immune system challenges, and that's why eating them is natural for infants and kids. Also, kids aren't afraid of what comes out of their bodies, as seen in babies happily playing in their own poop and sharing the experience with anyone in range! Unsurprisingly, childhood habits often carry forward as we grow up.
Okay. Eating boogers challenges the immune system on a bunch of fronts, contributing to survival. That's great. Anything else? Would you believe good for your teeth? Helps defend against HIV? Those are but a few, and some are wholly unexpected. Do I have your attention now? Boogers, whether played with, eaten or both are NOT the enemy. Blooming germophobia, which is running rampant and apparently worsening by the day, is.