You know it when you see it: black ice-cream, gray colored lemonade or even inkly colored acai bowls – activated charcoal.
It’s taking over the restaurant and nutrition industry by storm and based on the creative marketing advertised by brands, you feel unhealthy and/or ostracized if you fail to join this trend.
But, does activated charcoal infused foods have any health benefits?
What’s activated charcoal?
Carbon comes in several forms like bone char, coconut shells, peat, petroleum coke, coal, olive pits or sawdust. Once burned at high temperatures, it turns into activated charcoal and the higher the temperature, the more porous it becomes.
Research has shown that the makeup of it is so fine that two grams of it would cover the surface area of an entire football field!
What‘s it used for?
Activated charcoal has been used for centuries. Even as far back as 3750 B.C. when Egyptians used it to trap unpleasant odors.
But, in the last two hundred years, scientists have realized the importance of it in a hospital setting. Individuals who have been poisoned or who are addicts can be administered activated charcoal.
It has binding properties that can stick to toxins and remove them through gastric emptying.
In other words, it’s poison control.
Risks of consuming activated charcoal
It’s part of a fad diet trend. Numerous brands have advertised that consuming activated charcoal detoxes the human body. Naturally, as human beings, we celebrate quick-fixes even without knowing the underlying consequences.
If you choose to consume a product that has been made with activated charcoal, your body may be in danger.
Whether you have a small or large number of toxins in your system, it absorbs anything that will stick to it.
It doesn’t discriminate based on what’s in your GI tract. So yes, it will absorb vitamins, minerals and medications.
Eating or drinking anything with activated charcoal can be especially dangerous for individuals taking insulin, blood pressure medication and birth control.
What is a detox?
Our bodies are great at detoxifying on their own. We are able to rely on our liver, kidneys, skin, digestive system and lungs every moment of the day.
There’s no need to give the body a “push” or administer an unwanted detox. However, if you feel as if your body is not doing the job well on its own, then it’s time to reach out to your primary physician and dietitian.
There’s an obsession with “quick-fixes” and the desire to “detox” in many ways. Activated charcoal seems to be one such fad. Using it as a food is not FDA regulated and the reasons for using it are littered with opinion rather than evidence.
Is it for you? Do yourself a favor and continue with a bit of research and if you find that it is, at least you know you’ve made an informed decision.