Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health
Grow Youthful: How to Slow Your Aging and Enjoy Extraordinary Health

Silicon, diatomaceous earth

What is diatomaceous earth?

Silicon health properties

Silicon, ageing and health

Symptoms of silicon deficiency

How to supplement silicon

Food sources of silicon

How to take diatomaceous earth


What is diatomaceous-earth?

Diatomaceous earth (DE) is sourced from diatomite, a soft sedimentary rock. Diatomite is made from the fossilized shells of a major group of algae known as diatoms. Diatoms have a single cell, and a unique feature is that they are enclosed within a cell wall made of silica. Diatoms are the primary food source for marine life. They have been part of the earth's ecology since prehistoric times and they still exist today in both salt and fresh waters all over the world.

Diatomite was formed tens of millions of years ago, when the diatoms piled up to form thick beds of chalky fossilized sediment on lake or ocean floors. Today, hundreds of large sedimentary deposits of diatomaceous earth are exposed all over the world.

After diatomite is mined it is ground into a powder. Depending on how fine the particles are ground, it can feel granular and abrasive similar to pumice powder or as fine as talcum powder. It is very light because of its high porosity. The fossilised shells are so small and sharp that they give diatomaceous earth some unique properties.

DE is composed of 80 - 90% silica, 2 - 4% alumina and 0.5 - 2% iron oxide. It comprises approximately 33% silicon, 19% calcium, 5% sodium, 3% magnesium, 2% iron and many other trace minerals such as boron, manganese, copper, titanium and zirconium.

Silicon health properties

Silica (silicon) is an essential mineral for life, playing a key role in many body functions. (7)

Silicon, ageing and health

Silicon level in the body declines with age. (2) The silicon level declines as calcium content rises in mature bone. (3) High levels of silicon rather than calcium are needed for bone health and healing.

We are born with an abundance of silica and relatively low amounts of calcium. Over the years as we age the silicon level declines and calcium level increases (calcification), stiffening blood vessel walls, losing skin elasticity, and stiffening joints. (7)

A sufficiency of boron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, iron, phosphorous and other minerals is required in order to assimilate the silica we consume.

As young children, our tissues absorb and maintain high levels of silica - enabling our bodies to remain flexible, resilient, and energetic. However as we age (and especially if our dietary sources of silica are not meeting our needs) our silica levels steadily decline. Falling silica level over the years is reflected in is a progressive decline in health and acceleration of the ageing process.

Diatomaceous earth has a high level of the absorbable form of silica and can replenish silica levels. It can prevent and even reverse many chronic degenerative diseases. (7)

Symptoms of silicon deficiency

How to supplement silicon

I emphasise in Grow Youthful that nutrient-dense foods should be used to get your minerals, vitamins and all other micronutrients. Supplementation with pills and capsules is generally not an effective or healthy way to get the nutrients your body needs unless there really is no other option in your situation.

Food sources of silicon are listed in the next section. The less desirable alternative is to use diatomaceous earth.

Most of the hundreds of diatomaceous earth deposits around the world are from salt water sources, while only a few are from fresh water sources. The DE sourced from fresh water beds are of high purity and suitable for human food grade supplementation. Other forms of DE may not be as pure, containing a range of minerals that give it a brown or red tint.

Silicon occurs in two forms: crystalline and non-crystalline (amorphous). The crystalline form is typical of quartz and several other types of rock. It is completely indigestible and is harmful to lungs if micro-particles are inhaled. If digested crystalline silica passes straight through the digestive tract - sand is an important part of the normal diet of many animals, especially those that graze or eat plants from the ground.

Non-crystalline silica is soluble and safe for human consumption. Fresh water diatoms contain mainly non-crystalline silica, while salt water diatoms may have a higher proportion in the crystalline form.

Diatomaceous earth is a non-toxic bug killer. High quality, non-calcinated DE with a small particle size is used as an insecticide, and in food storage for protection against insects such as weevils.

Diatomaceous earth has many industrial uses. When DE is heated to a high temperature (1000-1800C) in the presence of oxygen, its structure changes. In this form it is used for water and pool filters, as an abrasive, as an absorbent, for paint fillers, cosmetics, pharmaceutical drugs, and other chemicals. Note that food grade DE is never heated.

The sharp edges of the small DE particles are harmful to insects. DE absorbs lipids from the waxy outer layer of insects' exoskeletons, causing them to dehydrate. The DE also punctures the shell or carapace of beetles, ants, fleas, cockroaches, weevils and the like. This affects the insects hydration and respiration, and kills them. It is a great insecticide because it is physical, not chemical. There are no toxic accumulations, and no development of resistance. DE is a good flea killer for your pets and can also be added to their food as de-wormer. Many farmers use it to keep farm animals healthy, both inside and out.

Food sources of silicon

Silicon dioxide (sand) is one of the most abundant compounds on the planet, but in this crystalline form it cannot be digested and absorbed by animals. Instead, we obtain silicon in an absorbable form in our food.

Traditional foods contain sufficient absorbable silicon to supply our needs, but they are not a significant part of the modern processed food diet. Years ago, the silica found in our foods was sufficient, but with today's depleted soils many people are low in silicon even if they are eating an apparently healthy diet.

The richest food sources of silicon are:

How to take diatomaceous earth

Caution: ensure you never inhale DE. It is especially dangerous to the lungs if it is in a crystalline form, or if it has been heated to a high temperature. Take precautions not to inhale the dust of the fine white powder. When taking it, stir it into liquid. Do not take it as a dry powder, or sprinkled onto food as a dry powder.

Food grade diatomaceous earth is a fine light porous powder. It is soluble and dissolves easily in liquids and wet foods. It is easily absorbed through the intestinal wall and is rapidly excreted. It does not accumulate in the body, so regular daily supplementation is required to build up silicon levels.

Most people take a teaspoon of DE dissolved in liquid two or three times per day. This quantity should bring your silicon levels up to normal, although you may want to experiment in the long-term with larger or smaller doses.

Food grade DE and silica is easily excreted through the digestive tract and is generally safe to take. If you have any ailments or health conditions check with your health carer before starting to take it.

Children, pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding should not use DE because little is known about its possible effects on the foetus, infant or child.


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