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28 Nov 2018 --- Foods fortified with charcoal are becoming increasingly popular for their distinct black color and perceived health benefits. However, as “instagrammable” as black foods may be, experts note that there is little research proving charcoal’s effect on wellness.activated carbon granular
Activated charcoal has no effect on taste and adds vibrant black color to products. Companies are combining the color trend with traditionally perceived health properties, despite the potential lack of substantial scientific evidence.
The color of health?
Charcoal has long been touted to promote kidney health, aid with diarrhea and gastrointestinal issues and even have anti-inflammatory properties. Charcoal infused products boast “detox” claims yet there are limited recent studies to date looking at the effects of long-term use at the levels of charcoal present in “health” and “detox” products.
“There are claims that activated charcoal can help reduce gas, bloating and flatulence. However, the studies available are significantly limited. Most studies are around 30-40 years old and have been carried out with limitations, using tools which have not been validated in order to gain results,” Kirsten Jackson, Consultant Dietician and Director for the British Dietetic Association (BDA) tells NutritionInsight. The results from these studies are conflicting. Some suggest activated charcoal may be useful while others show that taking this ingredient provides no benefit. It has also not been tested in anyone who actually has digestive problems, for example, IBS,” she adds.
ctivated charcoal is a powder, made from bone char, coconut shells, sawdust and coal. The charcoal becomes activated when processed at high temperatures. The ingredient is widely used to color food black and is seen in coconut ash ice cream, pizza crusts, burger buns, lattes, lemonade drinks, pastry, pasta and even cocktails.
Natural health advocates have long claimed that activated charcoal has anti-aging properties, aids in weight loss and lowers cholesterol. Ayurvedic and Eastern medicine practitioners used it to whiten teeth and cleanse toxic mold spores from the body.
Often used as a treatment in some cases of poisoning, charcoal has the ability to absorb toxins.
“The surface of activated charcoal is very porous. This means that it is good at absorbing things and is commonly used by doctors in emergency situations to absorb poisons before they get into the body,” says Jackson.
In personal care, charcoal is claimed to have skin care properties, promote oral health and even whiten teeth. This is supported by a number of personal care and oral health products in the market that contain charcoal.
“There is actually no evidence that suggests activated charcoal provides any benefit to our oral health. Instead, many products with activated charcoal may actually be harmful as they don’t contain the right amount of effective ingredients (such as fluoride) which help prevent tooth decay and other oral health problems. In addition, some products may be over abrasive, meaning they can wear away the enamel of our teeth, which is known to cause pain and increased sensitivity,” an Oral Health Foundation spokesperson tells NutritionInsight .
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