Study Shows Dirt Is Good For Health
Most people took a bite of some mud as children. Now, scientists are saying that it may be healthy for you.
According to the June issue of the Quarterly Review of Biology, the human geophagy—the eating of the Earth—protects the stomach and other digestive organs from toxins, parasites, and pathogens.
Scientists from Cornell University say that eating dirt is directly related to hunger pains. Research has found that people, in locations where there are common food shortages, eat dirt to feel full although it does not have direct nutritional value to humans.
There is also some research that supports a different hypothesis. Research has found that tribal people in countries in Southeast Asia and Africa consume dirt solely for its nutritional value. Dirt provides humans with zinc, iron, and calcium among other nutrients. These nutrients are not highly common in foods that are accessible in the poverty-stricken global communities.
People also eat the dirt to protect themselves from common stomach-related diseases and infections such as diarrhea, ulcers, or abdominal pain.
Studies have shown that people who eat dirt are commonly women who are in the early stages of pregnancy. They eat the dirt to not only retrieve the nutrients and minerals for their unborn child, but to also prevent any stomach or intestinal problems preceding birth.
Pre-adolescent children are also commonly known for geophagy. Children accidentally eat dirt while they are playing outdoors, but research has proven that the consumption will help the children’s digestive system as their bodies mature.
For more information on this research topic, please look at the June edition of the Quarterly Review of Biology at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/659960
Young, S.L., Sherman, P.W., Lucks, J, Pelto, G. (2011) Why do people eat earth? A test of alternative hypotheses. Quarterly Review of Biology 86(2):97-120.