Some pointers on picking your path to probiotic health

I got “the look” this morning at the grocery store.

I had just walked through the doors and headed for the shopping carts, where I waited for the lady who walked in before me to pull her cart out from the stack. But once she was finished and I got my cart out, I had to weave around her as she stopped to slather her hands and arms with the antiseptic/antibacterial wipes before steeling herself for the risky excursion into the septic swamp she must have expected to encounter as she shopped.

But because I wove past her without stopping to disinfect, she gave me “the look.”

It wasn’t a look of disapproval that I had somehow butted ahead of her in entering the store. No, it was a look that said: “Wait…you’re not going to disinfect before grabbing the hand-bar of your cart? See, it’s cootie-merchants like you who make me do this! How do I know where your fingers have been?”

For the record, my fingers hadn’t been anywhere or done anything that might cause conniptions in any normal person. I’m just not a fan of taking an antibiotic bath to ward off a cootie-storm every time I leave the house. If anything, scientists agree that behavior like that only adds to the problem, because any evil cooties that survive the assault go on to breed evil super-cooties.

In fact, you might be surprised at some of the things scientists have to say about cooties, so when she spun past me toward the “probiotic supplement” aisle, the irony-gods tempted me to follow her and share some useful science-geek information with her about probiotics.

According to a recent study I had read, written by scientists at several universities, we have more to fear from antibiotics killing off good cooties than we do from letting bad cooties survive, because if you count up all the living cells that comprise the meat-sack walking around with your name attached to it, the majority of all those living cells are bacteria — most of them good guys you can’t live without. The “you” that looks back at you in the mirror is mostly a whole lot of “them.”

And if that isn’t creepy enough for you, read on.

Because when it comes to boosting your good bugs, these scientists say, you don’t have to rush to the probiotic aisle in the grocery store, because there is a “rich reservoir of good bacteria” right there in your nose. Eating boogers, they say, can provide salivary mucins that form a barrier that can prevent cavities and defend against respiratory infection, stomach ulcers, and even HIV.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

I know, that’s not the kind of thing you want to hear as you read this at the breakfast table with a spoonful of yogurt heading toward your mouth, but don’t blame me. These are science guys saying this, in an article published in the journal of the American Society of Microbiology. They probably got heaps of research funding to study all the benefits of a good, knuckle-deep pick, and I’m just telling you what they found. Don’t kill the messenger for flicking a few facts your way.

Austrian lung specialist Prof Friedrich Bischinger says: “In terms of the immune system, the nose is a filter in which a great deal of bacteria are collected, and when this mixture arrives in the intestines it works just like a medicine.”

Professor Bischinger goes further yet, claiming: “people who pick their noses are healthy, happier and probably better in tune with their bodies than others.” The Prof stopped short of saying he wanted to shake the hands of those healthy nose-pickers to congratulate them on their healthy self-image.

Professor of biochemistry Scott Napper adds: “From an evolutionary perspective, we evolved under very dirty conditions and maybe this desire to keep our environment and our behaviours sterile isn’t actually working to our advantage.”

Scientists at Harvard agree, as do scientists at the University of Saskatchewan—although, let’s face it, the Saskatchewan Chamber of Commerce has probably been working around the clock to find a way to tout “runny noses” as a reason to sell your home and relocate to their neck of the woods.

And because this study was published in the AMERICAN Society of Microbiology journal, and because America is committed to generating jobs to make America great again, the researchers are working on a synthetic mucus toothpaste and chewing gum that can be marketed to consumers who don’t trust the free healing power of their own (or anybody else’s) boogers.

I swear I’m not making this up.

There’s no news about when those toothpastes or chewing gums might hit the market, so for now your probiotic needs are in your own hands — but only if your own hands have enjoyed an intimate relationship with your own nose.

But I digress. Back to my encounter in the grocery store this morning:

I didn’t follow that lady into the probiotic aisle. I can’t imagine she would have given me a kinder “look” if I had offered her some hand-picked pointers to solve her probiotic needs. My snotty advice might have caused her to upchuck whatever biotics were lurking in her gut at the time. And that wouldn’t be good for anybody.

Anyway, if you’ve read this deeply into this column, I give you props. Most others probably bailed out at the first booger-drop.

I salute you — with all my fingers, not just the one.

If you’re still here, you’ve got a stiff upper lip—right there beneath that healthy, runny reservoir you call your nose.

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