Activated charcoal – is the new superfood really healthy?

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Used as a medicine back in ancient times, Activated Charcoal is experiencing a rebirth. It’s said to have a powerful detox effect and works against the toxins in your system. But is Activated Charcoal really that healthy? Apparently, there could be more disadvantages to adding this new superfood to your diet!

Everything started with the dieticians advocating all the health benefits of the Activated Charcoal. Australian nutritionist Pep Reed, for example, explains that the high temperature of fire removes all the oxygen from wood or coconut shells and, when ingested, turns them into a highly absorbent “sponge” with millions of tiny pores that capture and remove heavy metals, chemicals and poisons away from our bodies.

Foodies all around the globe found this theory quite convincing and charcoal euphoria was unstoppable. Charcoal pasta, charcoal risotto and even charcoal smoothies found their way onto menus and Instagram accounts.

But, latest studies show that the detoxifying capabilities of charcoal have been highly overrated – it can only extract toxins in your gastrointestinal tract. Obviously that’s not a bad thing, but you’re also losing all the minerals and nutrients that the AC might mo up along the way. What’s more, Activated Charcoal might decrease the effectiveness of the medications you’re taking! Especially if they are medications for anaemia, underactive thyroid conditions or malabsorption gut issues.

But, don’t be in a rush to throw away your charcoal! If you’ve already bought some in a health store, it can still be very helpful if used externally. Here are some of the healthy ways to use Activated Charcoal:

  1. Use the charcoal as an exfoliant – it’s great for cleaning skin pores to get rid of acne or blackheads. It’s good for the face and body!
  2. Make your teeth look whiter (yes, even though charcoal is black!) Just wet a toothbrush, dip it into powdered AC, brush teeth normally and rinse well. Repeat 2-3 times per week.
  3. In the shower, add a teaspoon of charcoal to your shampoo to detoxify your hair. You might need an extra rinse for light hair.
  4. The porous structure of this material makes it great for removing harmful chemicals and allergens from the air. Put several small bags of charcoal around the house and re-activate them by taking them out in the sun once a month. They last for ages!