Wonderful Engineering

Eating Dirt Can Help You Lose Weight, Suggests A New Study

A team of researchers at the University of South Australia are claiming to have found clay materials in a certain kind of dirt that can collect fat droplets from the gut and thus help you fight obesity if consumed with the evening meal.

The issue of obesity costs the global economy an approximate $2 trillion every year and countries all over the world are making more expenditures in order to prevent it. However, a recently published Australian study points out that the cure for obesity lies in the dirt. The research team was led by Ph.D. candidate Tahnee Dening. The team was working on how clay materials might be used for improving drug delivery. It was during this that Tahnee discovered that the clay materials were soaking up fat in the gut.

Tahnee Dening said, ‘It’s quite amazing really. I was investigating the capacity of specifically clay materials to improve the oral delivery and absorption of antipsychotic drugs when I noticed that the clay particles weren’t behaving as I’d expected. Instead of breaking down to release drugs, the clay materials were attracting fat droplets and literally soaking them up. Not only were the clay materials trapping the fats within their particle structure, but they were also preventing them from being absorbed by the body, ensuring that fat simply passed through the digestive system. It’s this unique behavior that immediately signaled we could be onto something significant.’

In the research, the scientists studied the effects of montmorillonite – a natural clay material that was cleaned of dirt and laponite. A group of three lab rats was provided with a high-fat diet and one of the three; montmorillonite, a placebo, and orlistat. Orlistat is a popular weight loss drug. The lab rats were monitored for two weeks. Once the data collected from this time was analyzed, the researchers were able to conclude that the clay and the orlistat both helped with weight loss, but the clay was way more effective than the drugs.

Tahnee Dening also said, ‘Our processed clay has an unusually high surface area which means it has a huge capacity to interact with and soak up digested fats and oils present in the foods we eat. Orlistat on the other hand, is an enzyme inhibitor that blocks up to 30 per cent of dietary fat digestion and absorption, which leads to weight loss, but has unpleasant side effects such as stomach aches, bloating, flatulence and diarrhea, which limits its use in weight loss as people choose to stop using it.”

As of now, the researchers are working on a combination of the dirt and orlistat. The drug will prevent digestion of fat molecules while the clay will trap the fat and cause them to be excreted from the body. Clinical trials will begin soon, and we will learn if this method proves effective humans or not.