If you’ve been around here for long enough, you’ll know that along with an evidence-based balanced diet filled with whole foods, movement and mindfulness, I swear by diatomaceous earth. I’ve done extensive amounts of research on it and have found the benefits to be potent and powerful, but don’t just take my word for it – I invite you to take a look at what the science says. Grab your dorky-looking reading spectacles and your mental shovel as we dig into the truth, research and evidence behind trending diets, fads and ingredients, starting with diatomaceous earth!
What is Diatomaceous Earth?
Before we start digging, let’s uncover what diatomaceous earth is. Diatomaceous earth (the highest food-grade diatomaceous earth is also known as its trademark name fossil shell flour) is the fossilised remnants of diatoms, which were once microscopic algae. The shells of diatoms are composed of silicon dioxide and are the most abundant form of organic amorphous silica in the world, containing 79% to 94% of silicon.1 Silicon dioxide is highly bioavailable (meaning it has improved absorption) and is essential for bone growth as well as the prevention of chronic age-related diseases.1
While calcium and vitamin D aren’t shy of bone health-related limelight, silica appears to be a little more reserved. Silica is an underdog here, as it’s crucial for our bones, teeth and nerves.2 Silica is essential for sustaining life, with deficiency associated with inadequate bone and skull health, reduced cartilage and alternations in the mineral balance of our knees and vertebrae. Several studies indicate that silica supplementation has positive benefits on our collagen and can improve the bone mineral density of our spine, femur and hips.2 Silica is also doted as a beauty mineral, as it enhances collagen production for our hair, skin and nails. Along with silica, diatomaceous earth is rich in other minerals which are crucial for our overall wellbeing.
The modern-day diet, known as the ‘sad’ diet (standard American diet - ha) is commonly comprised of processed foods, and deficient in vitamins and minerals. As Dr Linus Pauling, winner of two Nobel Prizes, puts it: “You can trace every sickness, every disease, and every ailment, ultimately to a mineral deficiency.” Luckily, natural food-grade fossil shell flour contains chelated minerals such as calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphate, sodium, titanium and potassium; which are essential for our overall wellbeing.3 Consuming diatomaceous earth can complement a balanced diet and help boost the intake of necessary minerals.
Diatomaceous Earth and The Gut.
Upon consumption, diatomaceous earth passes through the digestive tract and the bloodstream, where some small particles are absorbed. According to Wiewióra et al., (2015), once in the digestive tract, the outer shell of fossil shell powder interacts with lurking parasites and destroys them and their eggs, “often to complete eradication of the parasites.” The large pores of diatomaceous earth absorb water from the gut which dehydrates pathogens and kills off parasites; as we know, parasites can alter the microbiota and reduce our ability to absorb nutrients, making this extremely beneficial. Several animal studies confirm the impact diatomaceous earth has on the prevention and treatment of parasitic worms and disease. Not only is fossil shell powder rich in minerals and trace minerals, but it can also enhance our gastrointestinal health and improve our nutrient absorption.
Are There Other Benefits to Diatomaceous Earth?
A 2011 study assessed the impact of diatomaceous earth on the weight and fertility of hens.
Hens who consumed diatomaceous earth had stabilised their weight and improved their egg production.4 Van der Meulen et al. (2008) speculated that the increase in fertility and improved weight management could be a result of the essential trace minerals in diatomaceous earth, and diatomaceous earth’s ability to improve absorption in the gastrointestinal tract.5
Is All Diatomaceous Earth the Same?
Diatomaceous earth is mineral-rich and impactful on our overall wellbeing, particularly our gastrointestinal health. While further research is needed, it has proven to be effective with minimal adverse health effects. Not all diatomaceous earth is the same, and not all forms are safe for human consumption. Some diatomaceous earth particles can be sharper, potentially damaging the walls of the gastrointestinal tract. When choosing diatomaceous earth, look for one that is food-grade and safe for human consumption.
If you want to try it out for yourself, my Love Your Gut Powder, Love Your Gut Capsules, and Golden Gut Blend contains easy-to-digest diatomaceous earth, bursting with minerals and benefits. For health professionals, there is new Love Your Gut Micron 5 capsules (superfine, micron 5 size, Australian diatomaceous earth, developed and exclusive to Supercharged Food). - available in store at Naturally Healthy - Hamilton
Martin K. R. (2007). The chemistry of silica and its potential health benefits. The journal of nutrition, health & aging, 11(2), 94–97.
Price, C., Koval, K. and Langford, J., (2013). Silicon: A Review of Its Potential Role in the Prevention and Treatment of Postmenopausal Osteoporosis. International Journal of Endocrinology.
Ikusika, O. O., Mpendulo, C. T., Zindove, T. J., & Okoh, A. I. (2019). Fossil Shell Flour in Livestock Production: A Review. Animals: an open access journal from MDPI, 9(3), 70. https://doi.org/10.3390/ani9030070
Bennetti D.C., Yee A., Rhee Y.J., & Cheng K.M. (2011). Effect of diatomaceous earth on parasite load, egg production, and egg quality of free-range organic laying hens. Poultry Science 90: 1416–1426.
Van Der Meulen J., Kwakernaak C., Kan C.A. (2008). Sand intake by laying hens and its effect on egg production parameters. J. Anim. Physiol. Anim. Nutr. 92: 426–431.