Sounds weird, and it sort of is. And sort of not as weird as it sounds. If you think about it logically, then we can determine just how doing this, eating dirt, is how we as human beings, evolved. From there, we can look at this process from a scientific perspective and verify just exactly why we as humans need to, not actually eat dirt, but incorporate the activities and foods needed to bring about optimum health.
Dirt. If we examine the makeup of actual dirt, we can see that there are a large number of components. Primary, broken up and very fine particles of rock. This varies by region of course, but the first stage of soil production in any landscape is the weathering and breakdown of the parent structure of rock. Dirt. When we add in organic material, microbes, air and water, we get soil. Soil is a complex living mixture of these things, each and every one of them are required for plants to grow and thrive.
That should be a reminder to us humans.
As humans evolved, they ate a variety of things from the landscape around them. Rotting flesh of animals found out there on the savanna, leftover from some larger bigger carnivore kill. Nuts, fruits, sweet leaves from plants growing around. Sprouting seeds and grains, that process of which turns the residing carbohydrates, lectins and phytates within the seeds into sugars (Yes, that's probably why we developed a sense of taste for sweet) makes them taste sweeter. And of course, roots and tubers. Perfectly healthy, good sources for carbohydrate energy needed to run away from those carnivores, as well as fuel for the scavenging needs of the group. Here, let's look at what these early hominids did. They would find the growing plants, recognition of their use from the growing parts. Probably a result of higher brain or evolving brain functionality. Dig or pull up the root. Wipe off some of the dirt, then eat it.
That process would invariably include lots of the soil the root or tuber was growing in. Dirt.
Yeah, they ate dirt. With many of the meals our ancestors ate, they got big old helpings of rock dust and microbes along with the nutrition from the plant itself. Dirt. The startling thing is, these are things we evolved eating and in reality, are things we NEED to survive, to live a healthy existence. Microbes and minerals. I am hoping that if you are reading this, you know the importance of the human intestinal microbiota within each of us. Our gut bacteria are an integral part of our living systems. That biodiversity of bacteria need to be replenished. Frequently. Ancient evolving humans ate dirt. Later, civilized humans began traditions of fermenting their foods. For preservation, for inactivating some of the toxic portions of the foods (such as lectins in grains) and for flavor as well. Fermenting adds a huge amount of beneficial bacteria to our diets. Something lacking in our modern sterile lifestyles. The additions of chemical substances into our foods and food-like substances manufactured for the majority of the population are for the most part, devoid of any microbial activity. With a few exceptions, notably the FDA recalls of produce, processed meats and a whole host of food-like substances manufactured and then discovered to contain a literal plethora of dangerous bacterial contaminants. Of course the scary part is that when beneficial bacteria flourish, the nasty ones don't. Says a lot about food and food-like substance production.
So, reason number one to eat dirt. Microbes. Or at least eat some fermented foods.
Minerals. It isn't a secret. It's common knowledge. It's taught to each and everyone of us from way back in the fifth grade. Living cells are made up of a large number of mineral compounds. We need those minerals to live. If we don't get them, cell production will virtually cease. Humans will get sick and die without a steady supply of fresh minerals fueling our bodies. Few minerals (and vitamins as well) and we do not in any way, thrive. That's the way it is. This concept cannot be disputed.
Now comes the hard part. A diet rich in plant material, and some healthy animal proteins, will support optimal health by providing a rich source of minerals. (And of course the needed other stuff, carbs, fats and proteins) That however, is dependent on whether or not the plants, and animals, are themselves rich in the minerals that they need to thrive. Plants grown on rich soils, ones that have a rich diversity of the needed rock dust, organic material and microbes; will themselves be rich sources of vitamins and minerals. Modern farming methods in use today, and being promoted by the manufacturing corporations that control the majority of food production in the industrialized world; use chemical fertilizers to give the three most prevalent chemicals within plants. Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. That however, is but a tiny fraction of the number of minerals needed by the plants to grow. And to thrive. This is exemplified dramatically with the current situation in Northern US and Canadian wheat farms. Non organic wheat farms are plagued with Fusarium Wilt making much of the crops unusable, even for animal feed. Whereas organic wheat farmers in the same areas are not seeing any such problem. Healthy soil, means healthy crops, and ultimately the same for humans when we eat those plants. We need a diversity of minerals and in healthy readily absorbable forms. There is a complex system within healthy soils where the microbial life there work to breakdown the rock dust into less complex and more usable minerals. When early humans ate the dirt stuck on their roots, they got a bit of minerals in there boosting their existence. Well, they also got healthy roots as well, grown in pristine soils.
In modern times, we wash everything. And the fact that modern farming techniques use chemicals to kill everything in the soil, (or attempt to anyway) as season after season goes by, the mineral constituents of the soil lessen to the point of that soil not being able to grow healthy plants. That's when the problems like those described above become commonplace. Non organic farms all across the world are suffering from that degradation of soil, loss of minerals and death of the microbial constituent. Dead Soil. The end result is plants, and ultimately the meats raised on those sick mineral starved plants, don't have the necessary mineral (and vitamin) reserves to nourish the humans that consume them.
Solution two, eat more dirt. Or at the very least, eat good healthy organic plants from farmers markets. Meats raised in sustainable methods and always always, eat healthy food choices. And take mineral supplements as well.
Our ancestors evolved eating dirt. We can replicate that, and we need to.