It is one of the disgusting habits parents try in vain to stop their children from doing in public.

But it may be the wrong reaction to tell a child off for picking their nose and - horror of horrors - eating it.

Experts now insist that, in fact, this unsavoury practice is good for your teeth and overall health, reports the Daily Mail.

They believe that the bacteria collected in the nose could improve the body's immune system if eaten.

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Dr Scott Napper, professor of biochemistry at the University of Saskatchewan, Canada, said: "Nature pushes us to do different things because it is to our advantage to have certain behaviours, to consume different types of foods."

So maybe when you have an urge to pick your nose and eat it, you should just go with nature.

"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."

Another study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology suggested mucus could help to prevent infections by keeping bad bacteria in check.

The researchers believed synthetic mucus, in the form of toothpaste for example, could be used to stop people getting cavities in their teeth.

Austrian lung specialist Professor Friedrich Bischinger, speaking on the same topic, said research showed people who picked their noses were "healthier, happier and better in tune with their bodies."