Charcoal Water: Its Health Benefits and What It Can Do For a Bloated Stomach
Jan 21, 2016 11:00 PM EST | By Beverly Abad
Looks like the water infusion rage is here to stay.
A few years ago, green was the new gold. Everywhere you looked, you're sure to find a juice bar. Celebrities from Beyonce and Salma Hayek to Anne Hathaway and Alicia Silverstone have all become fans of this trend. Now that juices and detox cleansing have become quite the norm (thanks to these celebrities), mixologists are itching to bring something new to the table. Enter: Activated charcoal.
No, this is not the same kind you use to light up your grill. Known as binchotan charcoal, these activated charcoal sticks are said to be an effective way of removing water impurities, like chlorine. Sounds unappetizing? It does, but has been used as a water purifier in Japan since the 17th century, according to Dan Black, founder of the firm black+blum which sells the sticks in the UK. He is also an avid supporter of the benefits of charcoal. "It has an incredibly porous surface,' he said. "The ions of contaminants are attracted to the surface of the carbon, where they will be held."
So what are, exactly, its health benefits?
According to Lauren Minchen MPH, RDN, CDN, a Registered Dietitian and Nutritionist based in New York City, "It can provide energy in a more indirect way," without giving you the heart-racing buzz that coffee offers. "Any time the body is rid of toxins and oxidants, it will respond by giving you more energy and better overall health," she continues.
It can also help you get rid of your Friday night's aftermath, as charcoal can help cure hangovers. "Due to its strong cleansing properties, activated charcoal can help remove toxins from the liver and bloodstream after a long night of drinking," says Minchen. However, while it can help you relieve of your morning-after misery, take note that it does not remove any of the alcohol left in your system. Better to sleep it off if you're still feeling a little tipsy.
Dress that fit perfectly last week got you looking like a pregnant lady? Here's some good news: "Charcoal helps to cleanse the intestines and colon, which can help people debloat a bit," explains Minchen. However, charcoal does not burn fat. It can help make your clothes fit better by nixing that bloat, but it won't actually make you slimmer. Sorry.
Before you decide you want to jump in on the bandwagon, Minchen warns that if you have never done a juice cleanse before, you may want to skip on this detox du jour. It's a more potent detoxifier, compared to juices containing fruits, veggies, green tea and flax seeds. "The detox process with these foods may be slower than using charcoal, but it's also much safer," she says.
If you are unsure whether this type of cleanse is good for you, it's always a good idea to consult with your doctor first.
Ready to chug it down? Be sure to at least drink two liters of water. "Using charcoal is a powerful detoxification process. Your body needs lots of water to help flush those toxins out once they are bound by the charcoal," says Minchen.
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