Is Charcoal in Coffee a Good Idea?

There are plenty of health fads out there and lately it seems that an awful lot of them involve coffee. First, we had the whole ‘Bulletproof coffee’ fad which saw people adding whole sticks of butter to their morning beverages. That turned out to be not-such-a-good-idea. So, what about this latest idea of adding charcoal to your drink?

The Idea

The idea behind adding charcoal to your coffee is simple: to look ‘on-trend’ in your Instagram pictures.

Seriously though, that’s probably the main motivation behind most people engaging in this unusual habit. The charcoal certainly looks striking sticking out of a mug of Joe and hipsters love improving their health in counter-intuitive ways.

If pushed, then the explanation such a healthy hipster might give, is that the charcoal is able to absorb unwanted contaminants and toxins. There is some truth in this: charcoal actually can absorb toxins owing to its highly porous nature. In fact, this is why charcoal is used as one of the most popular mediums in water filters. Likewise, if you were ever to eat something that you suspected was toxic, one good piece of advice would be to consume a small amount of activated charcoal immediately after.

The Problem

The problem is that diet does not contain a high quantity of unwanted toxins that the body is not already capable of filtering itself. This is also the big issue with a lot of ‘detox’ diets and strategies: it is simply not needed.

Not only that, but when you add charcoal to your coffee what is more likely to happen is that it will remove the healthy and useful nutrients from your food thereby causing far more harm than good. Consuming charcoal in this manner can also hamper the absorption of drugs and medications, rendering them inert. Not only that, but if you consume too much charcoal then you can end up causing severe diarrhoea, constipation, vomiting and more.

In short, this is a trend – like so many others – that you would do much better to avoid.

An Alternative

If you did want to make yourself a funky coffee though and give it a few more health benefits, you could consider adding turmeric. This is bang on trend but unlike butter and charcoal, this one is actually on-the-mark. Not only is turmeric neuroprotective (as is caffeine) thanks to its inclusion of curcumin, but it has also been shown to boost levels of BDNF. This is ‘Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor’ – a substance that encourages brain plasticity helping us to learn new subjects more quickly.

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