Currently, a new stream of diets has appeared, most of them to lose weight, based on the use of activated charcoal diet as a remedy to purify the body, improve digestion and relieve some intestinal discomfort.
In this article we will talk about activated charcoal, what benefits it has and how it affects our health.
What is activated charcoal and what is it used for?
Activated charcoal is a generic term that refers to a group of charcoal substances, generally of plant origin, with absorbing properties.
It is a substance that is characterized by having a large number of pores.
It is a very absorbent substance used mainly as a detoxifier. In medicine, it is used in patients suffering from some serious poisoning, whether caused by a food in poor condition or by the intake of a toxic substance. It is also used to treat allergy attacks, or in case of ethyl coma or abuse of other drugs.
When we introduce it into our body, either in capsules or through food, it travels through the digestive system without being absorbed, or metabolized and finally eliminated by the faeces. During this journey the activated charcoal absorbs the substances and eliminates them through the faeces without being assimilated by our digestive system, thus preventing them from reaching the blood.
With a small dose it is enough to eliminate a large part of the substances present in the digestive tract, since a single gram of activated charcoal could cover a surface greater than 450 m2, that is, more than two tennis courts. This is due to its high porosity.
Where do you get it?
The activated charcoal used in medicine is obtained from the pyrolysis of charred wood, that is, a large source of heat is applied in a controlled manner in an oxygen-poor atmosphere.
However, the most commercialized activated charcoal is that coming from the charcoalized coconut shell.
Benefits of activated charcoal: Medical benefits
As we have commented previously, the main benefit of this substance is its absorption capacity, which is why it is used to perform the stomach wash after ingesting any toxic substance.
When it is administered immediately after the ingestion of a toxic it is possible to reduce in more than 80% the capacity that it reaches the blood and causes us intoxication. Even if it is given four hours after the ingestion of the toxic, it also helps to reduce, to a lesser extent, its absorption.
Allergies and insect bites:
It is used to soothe itching and allergic reactions caused by insect bites.
Activated charcoal diet: Good or Bad
Due to its powerful ability to absorb and eliminate toxins, diets that include one or several meals with activated charcoal have become popular. The intention of these diets is to eliminate toxins (detox effect) of our body, thus improving our digestive health and facilitating digestion.
In some cases these diets are even used in order to lose weight. However, activated charcoal, being a substance that is not metabolized, has no “thermogenic” effect on our body. While it helps to retain and eliminate toxins, it also retains and eliminates other substances of nutritional interest such as vitamins, minerals or phytonutrients.
Due to the great “boom” of people who started using activated charcoal in their diets, the first consequences of its use began to appear, such as pneumonias caused by the aspiration of activated charcoal through the respiratory tract or gastrointestinal problems due to the accumulation of charcoal that ends up hindering intestinal transit.
In addition, it should be mentioned that activated charcoal diet interferes with the absorption of a wide variety of drugs, preventing them from becoming metabolized and therefore avoiding their action.
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