It’s a firm favourite with celebs like Gwyneth Paltrow and is being hyped as the answer to all sorts of problems, but what exactly is activated charcoal? And should we all be adding it to our diets? Let’s take a look.
What is activated charcoal?
If you think you can bypass getting hold of the activated charcoal sold in shops by burning your toast, then think again. The real stuff is made by superheating things like coconut shells to make them highly absorbent and this is why celebs, dieters and the health conscious love it.
So, the reason why people are adding it to their diets is because it’s super absorbent and binds to toxins to remove them from the body. This is particularly helpful if you’ve eaten something maybe you shouldn’t have or had a few too many drinks the night before.
Activated charcoal’s reputation for absorbing toxins has made it a big favourite in the battle against hangovers. While there’s not much verified research to back it up, some drinkers swear by it. The only thing is you need to take the charcoal before your body has had a chance to absorb it.
That means downing the capsules before you start drinking or at the end of a night out. But let’s face it, most of us forget to put a glass of water next to the bed when we’ve had a few too many vinos, let alone taking charcoal. Having it the next morning with your paracetamol will probably be too late.
Beating the bloat
Another big claim from charcoal fans is its ability to banish the bloat and get rid of flatulence. That’s because it is said to absorb excess gas from your intestines, leaving you feeling less full and certainly less windy.
It’s certainly something to try if you’ve been struggling to find a cure for these uncomfortable – and let’s face it – embarrassing symptoms. Take your charcoal with or straight after a meal for the best effects.
Putting a black substance on your teeth to make them whiter does sound strange, but it’s all to do with that absorbency again. And it’s so popular that you’ll find it as an ingredient in loads of the teeth whitening products available in the shops.
If you’re looking to banish coffee and red wine stains from your pearly whites, then this could be the way to go. As well as buying toothpastes with charcoal in, you can simply mix the powder with a bit of water and rub in with your finger or a toothbrush, but be warned, it can get a tad messy!
How to get activated charcoal into your diet
Charcoal capsules are definitely the most convenient way to up your intake, but there are other, more creative ways to consume it. Some people like to mix it with their favourite type of milk for a rather unappetising-looking drink, but you can let loose with your creativity when it comes to activated charcoal.
Check out this recipe for black lemonade from The Edgy Veg, who swears by it as a hangover cure. Even if the charcoal doesn’t set you straight, all the vitamin C from those lemons is bound to do you some good.
Another thing we all need when we’re hungover is coffee, so popping charcoal into your latte sounds like an absolute no brainer. Everything’s Peachy shows you how with this Black Magik Latte recipe.
Go totally off-piste with XLBCR’s savoury charcoal waffle sandwiches. To say they’re striking is an understatement, but once you’ve got past how dark the waffles are you can throw in your favourite fillings and get experimenting.