Activated Charcoal: Instructions for use between truth and false myths

Activated Charcoal
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What is activated charcoal? What are its benefits? Does bread and bakery products that contain it really good for your health? What do the regulations say?

What is activated charcoal?

The activated charcoal, is obtained from the processing of wood and derivatives by subjecting the plant material to pyrolysis (i.e. the application of heat in total absence of oxygen) with high temperatures, between 600/1200 ° C. The transformation that occurs is essentially a dry distillation of wood and coal is the solid residue.

At the end of this process it comes in the form of pieces or masses of black-bluish color which often retain the shape and structure of the part of the plant from which they were obtained; these must be light, porous and fragile, with a clear and shiny fracture. From here follows the grinding to obtain a very fine powder, black, light, odorless and tasteless.

The active charcoals are characterized by a high content of charcoal (80-95%, while the rest is mainly oxygen and hydrogen) and are treated in such a way as to increase its porosity and therefore the surface of absorption.

Activated Charcoal

Why is it known for its beneficial functions in the gastro-intestinal tract?

Thanks to its porosity it has great absorbent capacity, being able to retain many types of substances, starting from the gases up to solid particles, attracting them in its internal surface. This means that it is mainly used in gastrointestinal cometorbent therapies in defecation disorders (diarrhea, dysentery), in meteorism (intestinal gas) and into poisoning because plant charcoal is not absorbed by the gastrointestinal tract and the entire ingested dose is excreted with feces. There is also some evidence that activated charcoal can favorably influence the lipid pattern and an external use of coal in the disinfection of wounds, putrid and suppurating ulcers is also described.

Attention must also be paid to the doses taken because its absorbing capacities could reduce the absorption and effectiveness of:

  • Drugs (often life-saving as hypoglycemic agents, anticoagulants, contraceptives or thyroid hormones);
  • Nutrients, especially vitamins, essential for our body.

For these reasons, it is recommended that the administration of other drugs or nutrients for at least 2 hours from the intake of charcoal is recommended in the recruitment modalities.

3) What are the minimum quantities of activated charcoal allowed in bread or pizzas or croissants? Are they useful in bringing some benefits?

The permitted doses of activated charcoal for bread making are 10-15 g per kilogram of flour, so if you eat pizza and sandwiches at main meals in even moderate doses you can safely take a quantity of activated charcoal almost equal to that recommended for those who is affected by the symptoms described above, which is about 1-2 g. The consumer should be informed of the fact that, by taking such a quantity of charcoal during meals, the effect of not assimilating the nutrients is obtained.

So as you can see eating the so-called “charcoal bread” does not bring any significant benefit to our body, choose this bread is not a natural remedy to counter the symptoms of bloating and abdominal bloating.

4) Why cannot you call bread? Is the addition of activated charcoal which entails a different definition?

The bread to be defined as such must contain only basic ingredients such as: water, flour and yeast.

Activated charcoal is considered an additive and all products containing it cannot be defined as “bread” but “fine bakery products”.

If activated charcoal is used in food for health benefits, which stresses that the food product must be accompanied by a list with specific indications on use and if there are particular segments of the population, such as children, who cannot take the product.

  • The production of a “fine bakery product” named as such, which adds to the basic ingredients (water, yeast and flour), among others, also charcoal as a coloring additive and in the quantities permitted by regulations on the subject;
  • It is not permissible to refer to the product referred to in point 1 as “bread”, nor to refer to “bread” in the labeling, presentation and advertising of the same, both in the case of a prepacked product and in the case of bulk products;
  • It is not permissible to add, in the labeling, presentation or advertising of the product referred to in point 1, any information referring to the beneficial effects of activated charcoal for the human body, given its clear use exclusively as a coloring additive.

5) Is activated charcoal a dye? What are those allowed in the food world?

Activated charcoal, added to food, is definite colorants recognizable on the label with the code E153, since the doses used in food do not bring benefits to the organism. The world of dyes is decidedly varied and complex, many are continually subjected to new and constant studies and many have been banned over time. Identify themselves on the label with the letter E followed by a number that can go from 100 to 199: to find out more or to find out who is behind the codenamed name, we suggest you to find the list of colorants. You will surely become more aware consumers.

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