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CHARCOAL IN FOOD: WHAT'S IT ALL ABOUT?

ACTIVATED charcoal is all the rage in foodie circles - but what's the fuss about? You can now get charcoal ice cream, smoothies and, vitamintype charcoal detox capsules abound in health-food shops.

And don't get us started on the unappetizing-looking charcoal burger buns doing the rounds on Instagram.

It's not just any old charcoal though, it's 'activated charcoal'.

"Activated charcoal is simply charcoal that has been heated or treated to expand its surface area," explains nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed. "It's been used for many years as a treatment for overdoses and poisonings, as the charcoal is able to bind to substances in the stomach and prevent their absorption."

The benefits are probably not as groundbreaking as you may have been led to believe though.

"There are only certain substances that activated charcoal [AC] will bind to and therefore its use as a 'detox substance' is unwarranted," explains Charlotte.

She adds: "There are many outlandish claims made about activated charcoal and its use as a supplement - however, it's important to remember most of these claims do not have any evidence behind them.

"For example, many recommend using activated charcoal to 'detox' the body or help with hangovers," she explains.

"There is no evidence that AC can help with either of these and, importantly, our bodies do a really good job of eliminating toxins on their own."

There is a suggestion that taking AC can impact on other medication you might be taking. Earlier this month, gastroenterologist Patricia Raymond told Women's Health: "Activated charcoal is given to people who take too much medication because charcoal is so absorbent and can counteract an overdose.

"But if you're drinking it and you also are on any meds, even birth control pills, the charcoal is likely to absorb the drugs. So you risk having them become ineffective."

Charlotte says: "I would recommend only taking activated charcoal if your GP/ doctor recommends you do so."

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Jul 21, 2017
Words:322
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