When Celebrities Eat Clay

Zoe Kravitz recently claimed to lose 20 pounds by eating clay. Salma Hayek will be introducing a one ounce bentonite clay shot in September, and there are plenty of cleansing supplements that claim that clay will attract toxins and help you to lose weight and be healthier at the same time. Should you eat clay?

It’s a fun trend to be sure. You’re not eating food, and one could refer to the practice as a form of PICA. But clay does have its roots in traditional medicine according to Holly Phillips, an internist and medical contributor to CBS news. It’s supporters certainly jump to cling to that fact.

The problem is that clay is much more complicated than some would like to think. Clay can be contaminated with bacteria, viruses, and parasites according to Phillips. Concerns have been raised about dangerously high arsenic and lead levels in many of the supplements sold in health food stores and online.

Dr. Kent Sepkowitz has also criticized the act of eating clay for health. He has jumped on the celebrity diet, saying:

The purported benefits of geophagy, including its ability to somehow take toxins out of the system, strike me as nutty and decidedly untrue, though surely there is some impact on digestion. What needs a bit more consideration is the risk side. Dirt, after all, is dirty, and—be it clay from Attapulgus, Georgia, or the fields of Naryn, Kyrgyzstan, or the Oklahoma hills that Woody Guthrie once sang about—contains the excrement from countless animals who work the territory as they look for non-dirt nourishment.

I would say anything that is a celebrity trend is worth viewing with a skeptical eye.

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