Just when we thought superfoods couldn’t get any stranger than cockroach milk (it’s as gross as it sounds), a bizarre new trend has taken over the health food market.
Diatomaceous earth, also known as D.E, is the fossilised remains of tiny marine animals known as diatoms, and it’s the latest superfood to have a moment thanks holistic nutrionist Lee Holmes. Eating the petrified corpses of sea creatures may not sound appetising, but Holmes swears the stuff can help you lose weight and improve your gut health, as well as remedy a range of skin problems.
D.E resembles crumbly rock or a silvery/off-white powder, and is not unlike flour in appearance (which should make it easier to stomach). Over time, the remnants of these creatures forms a chalk-like sedimentary rock, which is filled to the brim with the mineral silica (good for bones, muscles, cartlidge, and skin).
Health pros recommend mixing D.E. into soups or smoothies to make it more pallatable, but the brave can just throw it in a glass of water to wash it down.
In a recent interview, Holmes told Today Tonight Adelaide: “It’s completely vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and paleo friendly and it helps increase nutrient absorption, waste removal and improves digestion.
“It is so good for people with arthritis because the silica forms well into the body and is absorbed really well. It also gets rid of parasites and worms.”
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And no superfood fad would be complete without its own Instagram hashtag. Search #diatomaceousearth to see bloggers on cleanses touting the powder as the next miracle product.
But like most superfoods, it looks like the benefits of D.E. are overhyped. According to the British Dietetic Association, there is little evidence to support the claims surrounding D.E. In fact, Duane Mellor, a spokesperson for the organisation, isn’t sure it’s even a food at all.
He the Metro: “It [D.E] has been claimed to be able to detoxifying and act as an antioxidant. It can perhaps act to absorb and bind to chemicals in our stomachs similar to charcoal, but this is not a true “detox”, to “detox” all we need is to eat sensibly and leave our liver and kidneys to do their job.
“It has also been claimed to help ligaments, cartilage and musculature however there is no evidence to support these claims to the point they are not recognised as health claims by law (European Food Safety Agency). In fact the only application made for its use is as a pesticide.
“There is no evidence of a clear benefit.”
If you ask us, eating a balanced diet and exercising sounds like a better option than putting rocks in your morning smoothie.