4 Totally Gross Things That Are Secretly Good For You

There's a reason we're naturally compelled to do some of the weird nonsense that we do.
4 Totally Gross Things That Are Secretly Good For You

There are certain behaviors that are discouraged in civilized society, because no one wants to watch you do that, you pervert. (Yeah, you know what we mean.) But there's a reason we're naturally compelled to do some of the weird nonsense that we do: It's secretly good for our health. So should you start doing that in public? God no, absolutely not. But in private ...

You Could One Day Take A Pill Containing Human Feces

We're all ostensibly adults here, so let's just come out and say it: Eating the feces of strangers, as dogs have apparently long known, can be good for you in certain contexts. And we swear that none of those contexts are related to fetish videos.

Infections can wipe out the bacteria that normally live in your stomach and intestines, and this leads to colon inflammation, cramping, severe diarrhea, and in the worst cases, death. This problem can be fixed by restoring your gut bacteria, but how do you do that? Well, the easiest solution is to provide an outside source, and the best source of bacteria is feces. Because we poop the bacteria. Out of our butts. Just so we're clear.

Fecal transplants have been around for a while now, but while they aren't quite as gross as they sound, they can be a pain in the, uh, you know to execute. But poop science marches ever onward, and tests of gelatin capsules containing feces that have been frozen and processed to isolate bacteria have been found to be just as effective at restoring the balance between good and evil in your tummy. Pills are much simpler because you naturally digest them, sending the bacteria downstream -- as opposed to what a transplant does, which is to send the bacteria, ahem, upstream. You do have to take 40 mercifully flavorless pills within an hour, but it's a one-time treatment, and there's hope that future developments will bring that number down.

4 Totally Gross Things That Are Secretly Good For You
Cumming School of Medicine
We can only hope that making opaque pills are a priority.

This is predicted to become a common treatment, because all jokes aside, this is the simplest way to deliver bacteria to your body. We know it sounds disgusting, but half the planet goes nuts for probiotic yogurt, so why not go straight to the best source available? Anyway, look forward to your doctor recommending this to you one day soon.

Related: 6 Valuable (And Disgusting) Ways They're Reusing Human Waste

Crickets Are Good For You, So Eat Up

We've all heard that we'll eat bugs in the future. Raising crickets is far less of a strain on the environment than cows or pigs, and it's really hard to make a cricket look cute in guilt-inducing PETA posters. But will we still be getting all of the nutrition that the animals we currently eat provide us, or will our future wizened arms struggle to shovel enough crickets in our mouths before we pass out from exhaustion? Science wanted to know.

4 Totally Gross Things That Are Secretly Good For You
Thomas Schoch/Wikimedia Commons
"OK, we're ready to conduct the experiment. Get me a dozen interns and a really big bottle of ranch."

A study looked at two groups of people on controlled diets, one with crickets and one without. After analyzing blood and stool samples, the group on the Jiminy diet was found to have more of an enzyme associated with good gut health, more useful bacterium, and less of an inflammatory protein associated with bowel disease, cancer, and other nasty ailments. The sample size was quite small, but the limited findings were in line with other studies on cricket consumption. We've learned that not only are crickets a great source of protein, vitamins, healthy fats, and fiber, but also that we're really good at digesting them. Your brain might not want a cricket snack, but your body does.

Once again, this is grosser in theory than in execution, as crickets can be consumed in all sorts of way that don't remind you of their creepy-crawliness. This study used cricket powder, which is exactly what it sounds like, which was mixed into a shake, and that was enough to see benefits as compared to the people whose breakfast shakes were cricket-free. So if you're not into the idea of eating scoops of raw bugs, keep an eye out for a new Exoskeleton Queen location popping up in your neighborhood and give their chitin cherry shake a try.

Related: I Farm Crickets, The Future Of Human Food: 7 Insane Truths

Children Who Bite Their Nails And Suck Their Thumbs See A Boost To Their Immune Systems

Kids are gross. They're an endless source of fluids and smells and habits that would get adults shunned by society. But at least two of their habits -- thumb-sucking and nail-biting -- are great for kids in the long run. So when your dentist tells your children to knock it off, you can tell your dentist to suck it.

Kids who suck their thumbs and bite their nails grow up to have stronger immune systems and suffer less-severe allergic reactions, albeit at the cost of being more prone to having the terrible state of their nails called out as adults. That's because it's important for kids to be exposed to bacteria, viruses, and allergens. That way, their bodies learn how to fight various ailments. And there's no greater source of gross crap than their own sticky hands. All sorts of foreign substances end up on kids' hands, with dirt and other crud getting stuck under nails before winding up in mouths.

Children with both habits had even better reactions to pet and mite allergies as adults than children with only one habit. So if you see your kid with their thumb in their mouth, we guess you should encourage them to nibble on that nail while they're at it. But by the time you become an adult, there are far better ways to boost your immune system, so no trying to convince your date that your nails are only a ragged mess because you care about your body. All the Peanuts kids need to apologize to Linus for giving him so much grief, though.

Related: 6 Human Quirks You Didn't Know Have Evolutionary Origins

Eating Mucus Is Good For Your Teeth, Might Help Fight Other Aliments

You might want to skip this entry if you're in the middle of a meal, but a study has found that eating mucus -- as in, what you find in your own nose, or we guess someone else's nose if you're a freak -- can provide your body with "a rich reservoir of good bacteria."

Most notably, mucus provides a barrier against bacteria that cause cavities, meaning that eating it is good for your teeth. It's to the point where scientists who are probably shunned by their peers are looking into creating artificial-mucus-based toothpaste and gum. Yes, we may one day live in a world where someone offers you mucus gum and you can't just immediately have them arrested.

A mucins S. mutans
Frenkel, Ribbeck/Applied Environmental Microbiology
The terms here are a little hard to follow, but we think that may be because no one wants to be the scientist who uses the word "booger."

More speculatively, mucus consumption is believed to help fight respiratory infections and stomach ulcers. "Eating the dry remains of what you pull out is a great way of strengthening the body's immune system," a disgusting expert said. "Medically it makes great sense and is a perfectly natural thing to do," he continued, as reporters slowly backed away and missed the final few words. The unfortunate logic is that the nose acts like a big bacteria trap, and moving all of that bacteria into your stomach is like a little shot of immune-boosting medicine, only revolting.

This new study that probably made at least one researcher regret their career choices contradicts previous medical advice, which said that picking your nose was both bad for you and also, like, a really nasty and shameful thing to do. But now science declares it to be an excellent natural impulse, and we can't wait for the headlines to go back and forth on this issue for many foul years to come.

Mark is on Twitter and wrote a book.

For more, check out What Your Doctor Wants To Tell You, But Can't (From A Medical Physician):

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