Fact or fad: Activated charcoal good for detox

By: Bel Marra Health | General Health | Saturday, August 08, 2015 - 04:30 AM

ThinkstockPhotos-481727932By now you’ve probably heard that we all need to detox. The environment and the foods we eat are taking a toll on our body. A detox is meant to rid ourselves from the toxins we take in. Juices, pills, just about everything has been promoted to help us detox, but is this all hype?

The latest trend in detoxing is to use activated charcoal. Activated charcoal, if you’re unfamiliar with it, is a charcoal – typically made from peat, coal, wood, coconut shells or petroleum – which is heated in the presence of gas to make it porous. These pores allow the activated charcoal to trap chemicals. Common uses of activated charcoal are to treat people who have been poisoned, reduce gas and cholesterol, prevent hangovers and treat bile problems.

Activated charcoal: New detox miracle?

Detox, as we understand today, is nothing similar to the medical version. In medical speak, detoxing is used to remove dangerous levels of drugs or other harmful substances from the body. The detoxing we’re talking about is related to the trend of “cleansing” the body of toxins.

The word toxins is used to scare us into believing we are unhealthy, or even dirty on the inside. Detoxing, as made popular by lifestyle bloggers, is a means to feel rejuvenated and healthy once again.

We have a natural way to detox already. Our liver, for one, “detoxes” us daily, so if you’re looking to feel healthy in the long-run treat your liver right.

It’s important to note that activated charcoal doesn’t just absorb toxins; it can very well absorb good chemicals found in the digestive tract. This means although it may make you feel good, it also has the potential to make you feel bad. Activated charcoal can also attach itself to essential nutrients such as vitamin C and B neutralizing their effects.

Currently, there is no evidence to support that activated charcoal is a miracle detox. Its effects are seen primarily in the digestive tract. Unless you have a horrible stomach flu, or drank too much, to drink activated charcoal on a regular basis probably won’t give you the uplifting benefits that marketing companies claim.

As mentioned, if you’re looking for a “detox” give more love to your liver by eating healthy foods and limiting your alcohol intake. Your own body has its own way of keeping you toxin-free so you don’t need to reach for activated charcoal or whatever the latest fad is.

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