Activated carbon neither purifies nor detoxifies, but it does put our health at risk

Black food like the night, like the asphalt, black like … like … like coal, go. Although the color black in the food is not at first too appetizing (unless we have a plate of calamari in its ink, how rich!), An ingredient has become fashionable: it is precisely coal. Specifically activated carbon.

It is a type of coal manufactured mainly from coconut husk to which a treatment is applied to increase its porosity. This substance is very interesting for its adsorbent (non-absorbent) properties by which it is able to attract and retain molecules, bacteria or even viruses on its surface. Thanks to its highly porous surface, it has an enormous adsorption power.

This makes it very useful in many fields. One of them is the treatment for poisoning : activated charcoal is administered to people who have ingested a toxic substance orally because it is able to trap on its surface the substance in question and prevent it from entering the blood. As the activated carbon is not absorbed during its passage through the digestive tract but is expelled directly in the faeces, it takes the substance with it and diminishes, if it does not completely eliminate, the danger to health.

From the medical antidote to chickweed detox

Although it has other uses (water disinfection, gas masks among others), it is this medical use that has resulted in an alternative remedy / urban legend: activated charcoal within a diet or as part of the usual diet serves as a detox element.

Take this opportunity to remember that detox diets and foods are at best useless , in the worst case a risk to health and in all cases bad for your pocket. Your body has two organs fully dedicated to purifying and processing toxins: the liver and kidneys. If these are not enough to cleanse you on the inside, something is not going well and what you need is a doctor, not a diet.

The fact is that, as many do not know what to invent, someone thought at some point that if activated carbon is used as an antidote to poisonous substances, it could be sold as a food or detox supplement , and since then it is not difficult to find websites (like this one , this one or this one ) where it is recommended to add it to food with that objective, to detoxify or purify ourselves of the toxins that we ingest with food in our day to day.

The risks of activated carbon

This is something absurd (again, it is not necessary to help our body to detoxify, it is something that has been done for centuries), and it can become dangerous.

Activated charcoal is not in itself a harmful element to the body as long as the excess is not consumed . That is to say, that you can drink that black coffee, that black hamburger or that which is black without fear of getting sick, but that is something sporadic and not a habit.

But you should keep in mind the following. On the one hand, the adsorption capacity of activated carbon does not distinguish between dangerous substances and beneficial substances, so it may end up blocking the absorption by the body of vitamins and minerals necessary for its proper functioning. This is especially important if you take any medication , since activated charcoal can hinder or impede its absorption and therefore will not take effect.

On the other hand, an excess of activated charcoal can entail risks , as it adheres to the intestinal walls, leading to constipation and even serious problems such as intestinal blockages .

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