Reasons to Eat Dead Diatoms

Posted: October 21, 2016 in Articles
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Technically, my title is a bit misleading. If you consumed diatomaceous earth, you wouldn’t be eating entire dead diatoms, just their cell walls.

While I was studying Kingdom Protista this fall, I read about the microscopic organisms that inhabit most bodies of water, known as diatoms. If you know about them, it could be because when their dead cell walls clump together, they form what we know as diatomaceous earth, or it could be because diatoms are responsible for producing the most oxygen out of any group of photosynthetic organisms. If you don’t know about them, it’s probably because you don’t know about them.

Diatomaceous earth, which looks like a white powder, has become increasingly popular in today’s world, especially among farmers who use it for garden pests like killing slugs. Today I read an article that lists ten reasons why you should ingest diatomaceous earth (one ingests diatomaceous earth by mixing it with water or some liquid – apparently, it has no taste). Obviously, only ingest food grade diatomaceous earth, not the type that is used in pools or other types. I found two uses for diatomaceous earth particularly interesting: you can get rid of gum problems, and you can help prevent and get rid of any parasitic problems your chickens get.

Of course, this is all according to the source below, and I’ll research it further before I believe it, but I understand at least how diatomaceous earth kills slugs. Diatomaceous earth contains silicon dioxide, also known as silica, which is the primary component in glass. As you can imagine, diatoms have very strong, abrasive cell walls that provide them with excellent protection. In turn, their dead cell walls, containing silicon dioxide, are abrasive. When slugs move over diatomaceous earth, the abrasive substance cuts their abdomens, and they eventually die. I don’t know if that’s how killing parasites with diatomaceous earth works, but I certainly believe that it’s useful to have.

Anyway, this guy lists some pretty interesting reasons to ingest food-grade diatomaceous earth. Be careful, though, because if you’re like me, reading this article could lead to researching carbothermic reduction.

Also, I’d like to say that I don’t like the idea of killing slugs with DE. Yes, they are slugs, but we will either remove them with our fingers, let them eat whatever they are on, or plant the stuff they like to eat off the ground and not over water anything in general. This year, the slugs were quite bad and we did lose a lot of food to slugs, but this was the first year we’ve ever had such a problem.


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