Everything you’ve ever wanted to know about snot, boogers, phlegm, mucus…
What’s the purpose of snot? It keeps the membranes that line the inside of the nose moist. The drier that lining is, the more you’re predisposed to infection—the wetter it is, the more that lining can do its job by preventing germs from getting inside of your head. Snot is loaded with both antiviral and antibacterial agents.
Of course, germs still do find a way in, and you get sick. And when you’re sick, your nose runs because the body has amped up snot production to keep the nose moist and fight off the infections that are in the midst of assaulting the body.
So that’s snot, but what’s a booger (or a “boogie,” if you’re English)? Chunks of snot that have been dried out by the air. If you’ve got a lot of them, it means your nose is dry and would have a harder time fighting off infection…so keep your finger out of there. Every time you pluck a booger out of your nostril with your unwashed fingers, you’re introducing new potential germs to your nose.
Inside of the nose, tiny hairlike structures called cilia move constantly, moving mucus out of the sinuses and nose, carrying harmful material as it goes. How much snot does a healthy nose produce? More than 34 ounces a day. And way more when you’re sick.
So, if you’re not sick, and you don’t need to blow your nose, where does all 34 ounces of daily snot go to? It naturally winds up (and winds down) into your stomach, where it’s broken down. This stands to reason that it’s healthy to eat boogers, since we all consume our healthy ingredient-packed snot. In 2013, University of Saskatchewan biochemist Scott Napper released a study concluding that the naturally sweet taste of boogers (really?) is a sign that the body wants you to eat those boogers, and that the immune system gets information about what it’s fighting when you eat those boogers.
What color are your boogers? In the first days of a cold, the mucus produced to fight them off is clear, resulting in clear boogers. Two days later, the immune system fights back harder with a white or yellow mucus, so boogers are that color. Toward the end of the cold, when you’re mostly healthy, boogers are green. (So if you’ve got green boogers, you’re healthy is what we’re saying. Go ahead and check. We’ll wait.)