5 gross things that are actually good for you

These things might make you say "Yuck," but they could actually be good for your health

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sweating runner

Sweat

It might smear your makeup, mark your clothes, mess your hair and smell a bit, but sweating is essential for your body to cool itself down. If we didn't sweat, we wouldn't be able to enjoy hot summer days without overheating and potentially suffering damage to our organs. Sweat glands are one of the defining marks of all mammals, which allow us to move between different climates. What's more, sweating is another mechanism your body uses to rid itself of nasty things that may have built up in your body (nurses can even sometime identify a new infection in a patient just by the way they smell).

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boy vaccine

Dead diseases

Vaccines-injections of dead viruses-have saved the lives of millions of people and are considered unparalleled milestones in the history of medical advancement. Throughout our lives we have been spared rashes, respiratory infections, fevers and even brain damage and permanent physical scarring thanks to dead diseases that were injected into us, preparing our immune systems to be able to identify the real, living thing should we ever encounter it.

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abs core belly stomach woman

The germs in your gut

You're probably familiar with the idea that there are 'friendly' bacteria that live in your body. But you might not realize just how many different kinds of bacteria there are living within you: a full kilogram of bacteria live in your gut. In fact, there are 10 times more bacterial cells in your intestines than there are cells in your whole body. Intestinal bacteria breaks down the food we eat, and helps with digestion.

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skin

The germs on your skin

Your skin is crawling with bacteria. Just like your gut, there are huge populations of bacteria that live all over your skin. The more we learn about the normal bacteria that live in our bodies, the more we come to appreciate that we are an ecosystem of living things, and our bodies function normally because of them. Some of them even act as our own personal miniature warriors - take staphylococcus epidermidis, says microbiologist Dr. Joe Latimer of the University of Manchester. "It lives in these clusters on your skin, and helps prevent more virulent bacteria from taking root on your skin-it actually boosts the immune system," he says.

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spilled beans

Eating food off the floor

Research has led us to understand that it's healthy to be exposed to a moderate level of bacteria and viruses throughout our childhood. This exposure aids in the development of our young immune systems.

New studies indicate bacteria may also affect our mood by making us happier. In a study involving lung cancer patients, participants were fed the harmless soil bacterium, Mycobacterium vaccae, to investigate its effect on their immune systems. The result: the participants also reported feeling happier. Later studies in mice showed their brain serotonin levels rose after a similar exposure.

Maybe playing in the dirt isn't such a bad idea after all.

Related:
Are we too clean?
Probiotics: beneficial bacteria
Top 10 myths and truths about viruses and bacteria