Remember back when your only option for baking was good ol’ fashioned white flour? Yep, the days before almond meal and coconut flour now feel like a distant memory. Now, the aisles of health food stores are lined with more flour alternatives than you can count on your well-manicured fingers. As someone who’s pretty into their health and nutrition, I thought I had heard of (and tried) them all. So when I recently came across the term ‘fossil shell flour’, I was immediately intrigued. What was this mysterious substance? Had experts stumbled upon the next big wellness trend at a paleontological dig? After a bit of digging (no pun intended), I discovered that fossil shell flour is not, in fact, made out of dinosaur remains. Nor is it the new coconut flour. In actual fact, it’s so much more.
You may have actually heard of fossil shell flour’s alter ego, Diatomaceous Earth, before. The term has been kicking around for a while and not only in health circles: it’s also used by farmers as a natural remedy for chicken lice! But what is it, and what does it mean for those of us who aren’t lice-infested chooks? It was The Brown Paper Bag founder and qualified nutritionist Jacqueline Alwill who I first heard mention fossil shell flour, so who better to provide a definition?
Fossil shell flour, or Diatomaceous Earth, is a silica-rich powder, formed from the outer fossil shells of micro-algae or diatoms. It has a neutral flavour and works like a scoop around the digestive system, attracting fungi, bacteria, parasites and toxicity into it’s hollow structure. – Jacqueline Alwill
So it’s like a magnet inside your stomach, attracting all the bad stuff. Cool, right? But what can digesting fossils actually do for us and should we all be doing it?
No matter how health conscious we are, we all come into contact with various types of toxins in our everyday lives (whether it’s through consumption or inhalation). These can feed on nutrients, which slows down bodily functions like metabolism. Due to the negative charge of the fossil shell flour, it essentially works as a detoxifier for your body. It allows you to eliminate these harmful toxins, bacteria, and parasites from your digestive tract and improve your overall gut health. It also has a ‘scrubbing’ effect on the large and small intestines, which can improve nutrient absorption. The fact that it’s rich in the ultimate beauty vitamin silica also adds a number of other uses.
According to manufacturers, some health benefits of regular consumption include:
Fossil shell flour is available to buy from most good health food stores. But don’t worry if you don’t happen to live near one: you can also purchase it online. The Heal Your Gut powder from Australian-owned company Supercharged Food is a great option. As for how you actually go about taking it? Well, fossil shell flour is a very fine powder, making it really versatile to use. You can mix a tablespoon with a glass of water, sprinkle it over your cereal or even add it to your homemade pancakes!
But if you want to pack a serious nutrition punch, try Jacqueline Alwill’s delicious smoothie recipe. She blends her fossil shell flour with carob, banana, magnesium powder, vanilla, bentonite clay (another great detoxifier), protein powder, maca powder, psyllium, chia, and water. You’ll definitely forget the flour is in there, but no doubt the amazing health benefits will remind you!