Gross Healthy Habits

Sometimes the very habits we were scolded for as kids and now look down on with disgust aren't actually so bad. You may be trying to break a few of these habits right now—but before you do, we're breaking down some seemingly dirty habits and how they might benefit you.

Biting your nails. You won’t have pretty nails for a manicure, but nibbling on your nails could actually be healthy for your immune system.  This is if your nails are relatively clean and not downright filthy. Even when fairly clean, your nails are covered with a number of bacteria. When you bite your nails and consume some of these bacteria, it exposes your immune system to them. Your immune system then reacts by identifying the bug, calling into its memory bank and enlisting a certain type of white blood cell that fights these bacteria.

Farting. While we’re not suggesting you let one rip when you’re at dinner or on the subway, passing gas is actually good for you. As your digestive tract processes food, it can create gas as a by-product and holding it in is a necessary and healthy bodily function. In fact, most of us fart about a dozen times throughout the day and a handful of times as we sleep.

Burping. Much like farting relieves your body of gas, burping helps relieve it of air. This air from your stomach will make you feel bloated and uncomfortable, but belch and it’s released from your tummy through your mouth, alleviating pressure in your stomach. If you’re burping regularly outside of mealtimes, then it may be a sign you are gulping too much air due to another reason, and you may want to chat with your doctor about it.

Cracking your knuckles. Can’t help but crack your knuckles to hear and feel that satisfying pop? While it might make those around you cringe, there’s no need to quit your knuckle-cracking habit for health reasons. It actually does not harm your joints—that popping noise is simply the air pockets in the fluid that surrounds your joints.

Picking your nose and eating "it."  Much like biting your nails, this habit could possibly help boost your immune system by exposing it to bacteria and triggering it to release the body’s white-blood-cell fighters to defend itself.

Karen Kwan headshotKaren Kwan is a Toronto-based freelance writer. She covers health, beauty and travel for Canada’s top women’s magazines and websites. On her blog she writes about fitness, travel, food and beauty, and in her spare time this avid runner trains for marathons.