Call it the waffle that broke the camel’s back, but I’m so done with the eating activated charcoal trend. This morning, I saw a photo of someone’s breakfast on Instagram (of course): a charcoal waffle. It got me all kinds of riled up, because STOP IT ALREADY WITH THE CHARCOAL. And by that, I mean supplements AND food.
From ice cream to smoothies to yes, waffles – activated charcoal is popping up all over the place. The trend stems from the fact that black food looks cool, which is fine, but there’s also the belief that charcoal can ‘detox’ your system, which is a far-fetched twist of science. Let me explain.
Besides the fact that OMG YOU DO NOT NEED TO DETOX YOUR SYSTEM!! (how many times am I going to write that/be interviewed about it/say it to people before they believe me), activated charcoal doesn’t detox anything in a healthy person. Your body detoxes itself, and if your diet is so shitty that you feel you need to detox, maybe eat some vegetables or something. Don’t swallow unregulated supplements aka charcoal.
If you overdose on pills, or eat something that’s poison, chances are you’ll end up in the ER..or let’s hope you do. When you’re there, it’s very likely that you’ll have to swallow activated charcoal to prevent the medication or poison from being absorbed by your body. That’s how activated charcoal can save your life; it’s not the same as when you slurp down charcoal in your lemonade because someone told you it’s ‘healthy’.
When alternative medical providers or whoever is pushing this charcoal BS talk about ‘detoxing’ your body, I’m assuming they’re talking about cleaning your blood and intestines with charcoal supplements. But it’s impossible to clean your blood with charcoal food or supplements, because they don’t go into the bloodstream to begin with (that and, your kidneys and liver do that job for you…isn’t nature wonderful?). When you ingest charcoal, it goes into your stomach and then you poop it out…which brings me to your intestines and another persistent myth about your body: the 100 year old meat and stuff that’s reportedly clogging your bowels. Hey! Your bowels aren’t full of toxins, okay? They have some waste in them, which is NORMAL and it leaves your body within hours! Getting colonics, eating charcoal, or downing cayenne and maple syrup cleanses isn’t going to change what’s in your bowels, at least not for more than a few days. Your body isn’t a sewer pipe that harbours all sorts of nasty toxic crap, waiting for you to flush it out with an ‘alternative’ treatment. Seriously.
There is a sinister side to all of this charcoal eating, too. Not only have people become ill and died from charcoal blockages in their gut, but remember what charcoal does in the ER? It binds medications. Charcoal, not having a brain, finds it hard to differentiate from some poison you’ve ingested, and your actual medications – like birth control, for example. So eating that charcoal hamburger bun might actually bind your contraceptive, along with other medications.
Not okay! You take prescription medicines for a good reason! Don’t mess with them.
Do me a favour. I know black food is fun and pretty, but please stop believing the hype about these idiotic nutrition supplements and the need to detoxify your body. Activated charcoal has zero proven health benefits. Eat real food (that’s not full of charcoal). Move your body. Sleep. Have fun. Save the charcoal for your BBQ.