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When you are sick with a cold or the flu, you may have a runny nose. Why is it called a runny nose? It is because a substance called mucus flows and drips from it. Just hearing the word is enough to make some people uneasy, but science tells us mucus is our friend. New research finds there are health benefits from mucus and viruses. Our bodies can produce more than a liter of mucus every day. Jeremy Barr is a professor at San Diego State University. He says that mucus is where all of your good bacteria lives and grows. When you have a virus, it can cause many illnesses. Barr and his fellow researchers studied a virus called “phage.” He says this virus, when mixed with mucus cells in the body, can help protect against bacteria. He also says that phages are a special kind of virus. They only infect and kill bacteria. They do not infect humans or animals. His research shows that the phages stick to mucus layers all throughout your body. By staying there they work to protect and control the bacteria that can live in your mucus layers. Mucus also helps protect your lungs from dust, bacteria, cigarette smoke, exhaust fumes and other forms of pollution. Jeremy Barr says he hopes the research will help start new fields of phage research. They might even prevent food-related bacteria outbreaks like E. coli. So the next time you have a cold, remember your mucus, along with the phage virus, is hard at work. Together, they can block harmful bacteria and keep you healthy.