Discover the reason why eating dirt might help you obtain a healthy gut


Sunday  09 June 2013 

Love your gut!

Seriously folks we need to spend a little more time thinking about our inner workings, or at least that is what one of the latest awareness campaigns is setting out to achieve.

A bunch of people from the IBS Network, CORE (a charity devoted to gut and liver disease sufferers) and the Irish Society for Colitis and Crohn’s Disease have extracted some sponsorship from food giant Yakult/Danone to promote gut health.

Now you may be thinking how kind of the multi billion dollar company to put some money into such a worthy venture...

...yeah because we all know just how these big boys work don’t we?

It becomes nothing more than a marketing campaign for them to push their expensive and largely ineffective product onto the public.

Find out how you can really improve sluggish gut function here

Conditions like Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis and even cancers need to be highlighted and everyone of us should be doing everything we can to avoid developing them – and for those who suffer from them need help in managing them.

Utilising a single strain of bacteria inside of a pot of fermented milk isn’t the answer.

In fact, the single strain of bacteria option is never the answer to anything as far as gut health goes: Our internal environment is a veritable soup of bacteria and other single cell organisms without whom we simply would be alive.

We need these tiny microbes to allow us to digest our food, manufacture vital vitamins and deal with infections.

The contents of your Yakult pot are merely one small element of this ecosystem...

...just a drop in the ocean.

The really good way to a healthy gut

The muscular tubes that form our gut can be kept healthy just like any other muscle in our body.

A regular work out and time to relax and heal is all than they need.

Now before you start investigating dumb bells that you can swallow, or picturing endless repetitions of sit ups that you need to do, getting the gut to work is really simple.

It is just a matter of eating the right stuff, things that are packed with fibre that the gut exerts a bit of effort on to keep it moving.

Bran, roughage and fibre are the key, things like whole grain cereals, fresh vegetables and raw fruits are great sources of these to include in your diet.

But there is also another vital component of our diets that we have almost forgotten about as our society has modernised and we become obsessed with cleanliness.

My Gran had a saying that I used to hear her trot out often, but never understood the significance of until now – “You’ve got to eat a speck of dirt before you die, boy” she would intone.

I wondered how much time would pass between the consumption of the dirt and the moment of death!

But, having begun to look into the kind of approach to health our ancestors had and indeed that which animals follow I think I have begun to understand just how key my dear grey haired old Grandmothers words were.

Let me explain.

Click here for you very own speck of dirt approach to gut health

The gut therapy that relies on soil

In a fascinating study published in 2012(1) under the title ‘The Scoop on Eating Dirt’ a team from Tufts University in the USA started to consume earth on a regular basis and monitored their body function.

They began to find that they were feeling healthier, with better energy and less stomach upsets.

They concluded that the active elements in the soil were having a very positive effect on their gut function, especially the clay component. One of their key findings was;

“Negatively charged clay molecules easily bind to positively charged toxins in the stomach and gut—preventing those toxins from entering the bloodstream by ferrying them through the intestines and out of the body in faeces.”

It was postulated that the reason indigenous peoples around the world often consume otherwise toxic fruit and seeds alongside clay showed that they were aware of how important the soil was to their health.

A researcher into animal behaviour(2) found the same innate instinct on display in parrots he was observing who, after feeding on fruits with high levels of cyanins (derived from cyanide), sought out clay rich soil to eat.

Previously it was assumed that the animals were ingesting the soil in order to obtain vital minerals, however, it became apparent that the birds were ignoring mineral rich licks close by in favour of the clay deposits.

So, if ancient tribes and animals are consuming simple basic clay to look after their guts why do we need to seek out products like activated yoghurt to solve our problems?

Interestingly, the French are ahead of us on this one (maybe ahead wasn’t the best term there!) and have combined active clay minerals with propolis (which is used in hives to control microbial growth and contamination) and pollen (rich in prebiotics) to achieve an effective way to detox and improve gut function.

Discover the power of Propargile here

So, whilst I truly wish the charities well with their endeavours and whole-heartedly support anything that provides a focus to a topic that so many people find difficult to discuss (unless they have the chance to appear on Channel Fours Embarrassing Bodies!) I can’t endorse their choice of commercial partner.

By all means seek out the information available for the campaign, and join in with the activities they suggest...

...but rather than reach for a daily pot of yoghurt you’d be better off eating that ‘speck of dirt’ that my Nan swore by – and she lived for a very long time!

Yours, as always


(1) Starks, P. T., & Slabach, B. L. (2012). The scoop on eating dirt. Scientific American, 306(6), 30-32.
(2) Gilardi, J. D., Duffey, S. S., Munn, C. A., & Tell, L. A. (1999). Biochemical functions of geophagy in parrots: detoxification of dietary toxins and cytoprotective effects. Journal of Chemical Ecology, 25(4), 897-922.







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