by NATALIA HAWK
But there is one trend taking off that I’m not at all keen on. It’s the eating and drinking of clay – a practice which is traditionally known as “geophagy”.
Yes, clay. As in, the stuff that is found in the ground and generally utilised by children who need to make dioramas for school projects.
It’s now being widely consumed, largely for two different purposes:
1. It fills up your stomach, working as an appetite suppressant in that you don’t have to eat much of anything else; and
2. There are claims that it flushes toxins from your body. Ran Knishinsky, author of the book The Clay Cure, claims that clay has the power to “treat ailments affecting digestion, circulation, menstruation, and the liver, skin, and prostate”, and “remedies symptoms of arthritis, chronic fatigue syndrome, gum diseases, and migraines.”
Historically, people have been eating clay for a really long time – largely because of the first reason. Way back when there were no supermarkets, clay was useful for filling up the belly when there was not a whole lot of food around; it also contained minerals that couldn’t be found in other sources. Native Americans and other indigenous cultures have been eating clay for a very long time. The practice is also common in Africa, especially amongst pregnant women seeking more minerals in their diet.
There is also evidence of clay being used as traditional remedies for ailments such as digestive issues, bacterial infection and being poisoned.
In the modern Western world, the super-hardcore-health people (you know, the same ones that have been onto alkalised water and activated almonds for ages) strongly believe that clay has detoxing benefits, and have been mixing clay into water and buying eating clay for awhile now. But recently, the practice has hit the mainstream, with more and more people incorporating it into their diets – just like they’ve incorporated green smoothies and protein powder.
This is partly due to actress Shailene Woodley (star of Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars) writing about her clay-eating habits for US beauty website, Into The Gloss:
Clay is one of the best things you can put in your body… your body doesn’t absorb it, and it apparently provides a negative charge, so it bonds to negative isotopes. And, this is crazy: it also helps clean heavy metals out of your body. My friend starting eating it and the next day she called me and said, ‘Dude, my shit smells like metal.’ She was really worried, but we did some research together and everything said that when you first start eating clay, your bowel movements, pee, and even you, yourself, will smell like metal. You should obviously be careful about your source. Bentonite clay is good, but Mountain Rose Herbs has a great clay source. I get all of my herbs from Mountain Rose Herbs, too.
I’m immediately put off by the idea of consuming anything that makes your body and bowel movements smell like metal. But hey, Shailene isn’t the only celebrity doing it. Zoe Kravitz, who featured in the film The Road Within as a girl struggling with eating disorders, told US Weekly that she ended up drinking clay on a daily basis “because it cleans out your body and fills you up.”