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Eat Dirt! (This Is Not An Insult.)

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Pop quiz – how many times have you read about an extreme celebrity diet (we're looking at you, Master Cleanse), rolled your eyes and announced to no one in particular that you’d “rather eat clay”?

Well you’re in luck because turns out, that’s a thing too! The latest, weirdest, diet fad comes to us courtesy stars like Shailene Woodley and Zoë Kravitz, who both claim that it’s one of the healthiest things you can do for your body – both for detoxification and natural weight loss.

So what’s the deal with eating clay? Are Shailene and Zoë nuts, or does the diet have any actual benefits – and most importantly, should you try it? We asked Dr. Oz Garcia, nutritionist to Heidi Klum and Naomi Campbell, bestselling author and regular go-to-doctor on television, and Dr. Anju Venkat, a renowned nutritionist from The Health Awareness Centre in Mumbai. Here’s what they had to say.

How It Works

First, let’s talk about the purported benefits of ingesting clay. If the claims are to be believed, eating healing clays like bentonite clay bond their negative electrical charge with positively charged toxins in the body and helping it to then release them, making it a full-body detoxification process.

Then there’s the weight loss, which is possibly a side effect of the detox; Zoë Kravitz told Us Weekly that she used clay to lose 20 pounds for a movie role, although we’re assuming (for her own sake) that she didn’t rely solely on the stuff.

Finally, the clay buffet extends itself to external benefits, too; both as an detoxifying face mask for oily skin and also as toothpaste – toothpaste! It’s true; in addition to drinking clay, Shailene Woodley claims that she also uses Earthpaste, a clay-based toothpaste, as an effective natural alternative to teeth-whitening.

Are the so-called benefits legit?

Dr. Oz seems to think so.  “When taken orally, bentonite clay can absorb toxins and pathogenic viruses,” he says. "And if you're going to take it, keep in mind that it's best when it is taken in liquid form with a small amount of juice.” It’s not just Dr. Oz who likes the idea of drinking your clay; when mixed with liquid, experts claim that the concoction swells and becomes a sponge of sorts in your stomach, absorbing toxins before before being eliminated as waste. There’s a whole brigade of doctors who believe that clay fixes digestive problems, balances pH levels and “empowers the body to heal naturally,” says Dr. Oz. “The key is to use it in small amounts.”

But not all doctors agree.

Dr. Venkat, meanwhile, isn’t convinced. “It’s true that clay contains a whole host of minterals, but they’re all in raw form, which may not be easily utilized by the body,” she says. “You want to be careful of ingesting clay if you feel like you might already have a high level of toxicity in your blood (read: if you’re already pretty unhealthy). The clay might help remove some of the toxins, but you don’t want to overload your body’s elimination channels and clog your entire system up."

So should you try it?

Dr.Venkat does have a point. “You’re body’s already built to eliminate toxins, and it gets plenty of toxin-eliminating help in the way of plants, with zero negative side effects. Why mess with that?”

But perhaps the benefits of a clay diet are similar to those of a juice cleanse; boosting your body’s ability to do what it already does, but might sometimes need help with; elminating toxins. It’s this aspect of the diet that gets Dr. Oz’s vote of approval.

“I’d definitely recommend using clay as part of a detoxification protocol. I’ve been using it since the 70s, and all these years of doing it have only reinforced my belief that it’s terrific for seasonal colon cleansing,” he says. Note that he says ‘seasonal’ – as in, something you do every once in a while, instead of daily.

Our take? If you’re going to give it a shot, go slow – try it out for a couple of days, see how you feel, and adjust accordingly – and always make sure you’re using high quality stuff. Do your research, run it by a doctor if you feel even a slight hint of discomfort, and remember to always listen to your body, and you should be fine!

Things to Know

For maximum benefits, Dr. Oz recommends mixing a teaspon of bentonite clay into a glass of water every morning, letting the liquid stand still for about 30 minutes, and then drinking it before breakfast. He suggests doing this for three weeks  before taking a break for a week, and then starting again. “It’s important to remember to keep the body hydrated while you’re on a clay detox,” he says, recommending that you drink at least  8-10 glasses of water during.

So what do you think? Would you give drinking clay a shot or is it just too weird? Let us know!

 

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