Why eat earth?
Geophagy, or the phenomenon of people eating the earth (dirt, ash) has been occupied by the minds of learned men since ancient times. Hippocrates, in his writings, lined up theories about why some of his patients eat the earth.
According to current statistics, there is not a single country left in the world, wherever there are cases of eating land. And the earth is eaten by both adults and children. Probably not one mother in Russia is concerned with the question, why does a child eat the earth, with a full and varied diet?
"I want to eat the earth ..". Where do the legs grow from such a desire?
Despite the fact that the phenomenon of geophagy is spread all over the world, scientists still cannot come to an unequivocal answer to such a question. Among the existing versions of why people eat the earth, only three of them deserve the most attention. Here they are:
- People eat the earth to cope with a keen sense of hunger. At the same time, the human body does not receive any useful elements. But with acute cramps in the stomach can cope.
- Eating the earth is able to compensate for the deficiency in the body of useful and necessary trace elements.Supposedly you can eat the earth in order to obtain from it trace elements such as iron, zinc and silicon.
- Geophagy is able to protect the human gastrointestinal tract from the effects of pathogenic microflora and the action of plant poisons.
Not so long ago, scientists at an American university, analyzing data on 480 cases of the phenomenon of people eating the earth, checked the veracity of all three theories. The work of scholars takes more than one page, and therefore we will be brief in drawing the conclusions made by them.
The first theory, in their opinion, was untenable. People eat the earth and in those cases when in their habitats or populations there is a mass of affordable and easily extracted products. At the same time, the failure of such a theory consists also in the fact that people eat small pieces of earth, dirt or ash. In terms of their volume, these substances could not stifle the feeling of hunger. They simply will not fill the stomach.
The second theory also did not stand the test of practice. As a rule, the phenomenon of geophagy is associated with eating clay, and it is usually very poor in trace elements. If people ate the earth for the purpose of replenishing the reserves of trace elements, the phenomenon of geophagy would flourish among the elderly and children who are deficient in calcium.However, we do not meet in any country and not in one population of mass cases of geophagy of people of old age and childhood. And the very consistency of clay and earth can bind more useful substances in the digestive tract than to give them to it.
Finally, scientists settled on the third theory, which, in their opinion, turned out to be the most convincing. It turns out that people eat the earth to protect their body. As we know, most often, geophagy occurs in pregnant women and in pre-adolescent children. It is in these moments of life that the human body is most sensitive in pathogenic intestinal microflora and parasites.
Mass phenomena of geophagy manifest themselves in populations living in tropical forests, where the issue of protecting their intestines is acute and constant, and eating the land is directly related to disorders of the gastrointestinal tract.
In conclusion, the scientists expressed the hope that their theory of the protective role of eating the earth would find more and more real evidence.