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A young Chinese woman is undergoing medical tests in Beijing after dining on dirt for 11 years.
The 18-year-old from Inner Mongolia was taken to Beijing by her parents, who wanted to know why she finds dirt appetizing.
Her eating habits have caused problems for the family's next-door neighbor, who has a mud roof.Chinese television reported that the woman can't help herself and keeps eating the roof.
A Traditional Practice Which Provides Nutrients to the Body
People around the world eat clay, dirt or other pieces of the lithosphere for a variety of reasons. Commonly, it is a traditional cultural activity which takes place during pregnancy, religious ceremonies, or as a remedy for disease. Most people who eat dirt live in Central Africa and the Southern United States. While it is a cultural practice, it also fills a physiological need for nutrients.
In Africa, pregnant and lactating women are able to satisfy the very different nutritional needs of their bodies by eating clay. Often, the clay comes from favored clay pits and it is sold at market in a variety of sizes and with differing content of minerals. After purchase, the clays are stored in a belt-like cloth around the waist and eaten as desired and often without water. The "cravings" in pregnancy for a varied nutritional intake (during pregnancy, the body requires 20% more nutrients and 50% more during lactation) are solved by geophagy.
The clay commonly ingested in Africa contains important nutrients such as: phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, copper, zinc, manganese, and iron.
Originally posted by CelticMist
I believe the term "pica" applies here. The craving for non-food items. Here in the south, you will find that eating "white clay" among certain groups, is widespread. Can't say as I would enjoy it, but, hey...to each his/her own.