Biting your nails might actually be good for you

When you make a list of bad body habits that humans have, biting our nails is bound to make the cut. We’re told our whole lives to stop gnawing at our nails, but it turns out, all the nail-biting naysayers might have it wrong. A new study released in the journal Pediatrics suggests that biting your nails (and sucking your thumb) as a kid could actually have some health benefits — specifically by leading to fewer allergies in adulthood.

The study involved a group of 1,037 children in New Zealand, who were all tracked when it came to nail-biting and thumb-sucking for six years, from ages 5-11. Then, as teens, the participants were tested for common allergies (everything from dust mites to dogs). The researchers continued testing this group well into their 30s and the findings were consistent across the board: Biting your nails and sucking your thumb more as a kid means a lesser likelihood of allergies as an adult. In case you’re not reading between the lines like we are, that means that biting your nails is the DOG FRIENDLY thing to do.  You’re less likely to be allergic to adorable creatures like cats and dogs if you bite your nails (or suck your thumb — let’s not forget the thumb-sucking component here), and that’s a good enough reason for us to allow a little healthy nail biting next time we babysit a kid. We’re letting them bite their nails now for a better future, after all.

But why does nail-biting and thumb-sucking as a kid lead to healthier adults when it comes to allergies? Well, as the lead researcher on this study, Malcolm Sears, PhD, explained in a press release: “Our findings are consistent with the hygiene theory that early exposure to dirt or germs reduces the risk of developing allergies.”

Yep. Letting our bodies get to used to all of the gross things out in this big wide world, especially from an early age, lets them build up defenses and function just fine when exposed to those things in the future. Isn’t the human body great?

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