I’ve got a cold.
Actually, that’s putting it mildly. I’ve been kidnapped by some killer bug that has made my nose run, my chest heave, by throat sting, and my head pound. My arms and legs ache. I have no energy and no appetite. I’ve been taking panadol, nurofen, flu tablets, multivitamins, berocca and cough medicine like there is no tomorrow.
I’ve been sick.
You get the idea.
As a result, I’ve had heaps of time to lie around the couch, and look at the mess that is my house, whilst pondering the great questions of life.
In particular: what is snot, and why do I have so much of it?
Because I was seriously concerned that my brain was leaking out of my nose, I decided to take full advantage of my medical degree, and consult a trusty friend.
And because I’m such a caring, sharing type, I thought I’d share it all with you.
Snot, or mucous as it’s known by us professionals, is a substance formed in the mucous membranes of your nose. It’s purpose is to trap germs, dust and dirt from getting in your body and infiltrating your respitory system.
An average, healthy human produces one cup of it a day, which I thought was a lot, considering that when you’re healthy you barely even notice that it’s there. This is because the cilia in those membranes do a little Mexican wave dance thingy, and push the mucous away from your nose and into your throat where you swallow it.
Yep. Pretty gross huh.
So what happens when you have a cold? Basically, the body produces more mucous to try and get rid of the germs, hence the bucket-loads of snot you sneeze, and all that delicious phegm in your throat. This mucous either drips it’s way out of your nose, or is captured by swollen blood vessels. Blocked noses come because of increased blood supply during infection or a viral attack; the little white blood cell soldiers increase in number and trap the mucous so that you can’t breathe.
It’s lovely really.
So now let’s talk about the colour. Healthy snot is white or clear. If its yellow, it’s because there is an infection, and apparently if it’s green it’s either because your body is kicking the bacterial butt, or because it wants to be a side dish with sushi.
Apparently the iron enduring enzyme in mucous is the same as the one in wasabi, and that’s what makes it green.
Kind of makes you want a salmon skin roll now huh?
Now, the important question?
Is it ok to eat your boogers?
Well to begin with, boogers is apparently a technical term for the dried out bits of snot that get left in your nose.
And yes, we should be eating them.
Because of the antibacterial properties of mucous, left over boogers are a boost to the immune system. Couple this with the fact that they have trapped old bits of dirt, and disabled viral monsters in them, and they work in a similar way to vaccinations. Once digested, the white blood cells in the body form further antibodies and actually prevent against further infection.
Which means that kids who eat their snot will actually, theoretically, be healthier than those who don’t.
And maybe we should be too.
So there, you go, everything you ever wanted (and didn’t want) to know about snot, mucous, boogers and wasabi.
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