Monday, June 13, 2011

Why do some people eat dirt?

The answer may be found in a study from Cornell University. This craving, which happens usually in young children and pregnant women has usually been contributed to malnutrition, or a lack of minerals in the diet, but scientists have proposed a differing theory.
"This clay can either bind to harmful things, like microbes, pathogens and viruses, that we are eating or can make a barrier, like a mud mask for our gut," said study researcher Sera Young, at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. "Contextualizing this, making it clear to people that its not such a weird behavior, will help women come forth and not feel so alone."
The practice is most common in warm, tropical areas, though it has been found all over the world, including in the United States. Most people with dirt cravings don't readily admit it, though. Several hypotheses have been put forth to understand why some people eat dirt, though there is no consensus.
Very interesting.


  1. I wonder if rather than acting as a barrier, soil acts to boost the mucosal immune system. Makes sense to, soil naturally contains adjuvants, so you could potentially get a nice, robust humoral response filled with beautiful, neutralizing IgA. Just a thought. I just read that in some cultures the soil is boiled before consumption, so that would reduce risk of infection, but would still allow for antigenic stimulation. Hmmm.

  2. That makes a lot of sense about the humoral response. I like that train of thought! My immunological thought processes have been out of practice for too long! Thanks for bringing them back! :)