What You Need To Know About Detoxing With Activated Charcoal

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Whether you've read about Gwyneth Paltrow’s love for charcoal-infused lemonade or you heard about the curious concoction from your health junkie girlfriend, you’ve probably been more than a little curious about activated charcoal. And maybe you’re looking to detox your system because you’re feeling overwhelmed by acne, bloating, and mood swings.

Celebrities and wellness leaders have declared activated charcoal the best way to rid your body of toxins, and tons of fancy juice bars claim it has liver-detoxifying properties (at $10-plus a pop, of course).

Does that all sound miraculous? Sure! But is it too good to be true? Let’s find out.

The Truth Behind Activated Charcoal

First and foremost, it’s important to know that your body’s main ally in detoxification is the liver. This vital organ works hard to keep your hormones balanced and to keep PMS, cramps, endometriosis, PCOS, and other troublesome conditions at bay.

Activated charcoal works by attaching to chemicals it encounters in the body and preventing absorption. This is great if you’ve overdosed or somehow been poisoned by a harmful substance; that’s why it’s often used in hospital emergency rooms.

But this isn’t so great—or practical—for everyday use. Because it latches on to every chemical it encounters, activated charcoal can actually keep you from absorbing medications you’re taking and truly need. And it can even make your healthy diet less nutritious, preventing your body from absorbing vital vitamins, minerals, and micronutrients. Activated charcoal doesn’t know what your body wants and needs, and it can’t discriminate between good and bad.

What I Recommend Eating Instead

Because of its indiscriminate nature, I’m not a proponent of the activated charcoal fad. Instead, I’m a huge fan of using the right foods to support the body’s natural detoxification system, which includes the liver, large intestine, and lymphatic system.

When you eat the right nutrients to support these organs, your body will clear out excess estrogen, which is a central cause of many hormonal-imbalance-related health issues. A buildup of toxins like excess hormones can lead to all sorts of menstrual, fertility, and libido issues, so keeping the natural detoxification system running efficiently is essential to good health.

I recommend skipping the extreme solutions and instead incorporating these four(-plus) foods into your regular diet to support your body’s natural detoxification process:

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1. Eggs

It's essential for your liver that you eat an adequate amount of protein. Eggs provide the most easily assimilated bioavailable protein source out there. Plus, the author of Blue Zones tells us that the populations around the world that have the longest, healthiest lives tend to eat eggs a few times a week.

2. Avocados, carrots, broccoli, spinach, apples, asparagus, and melon

OK, so we’re really talking about more than just four foods in this list. But what do these seemingly different edible delights all have in common? They’re all rich in glutathione, an antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals, super-charges the immune system, and detoxifies the liver. This is one of the best ways to remove chemicals circulating in your body from environmental and food-based toxins.

3. Brazil nuts

Selenium is an antioxidant that, like glutathione, can help boost immunity. It also protects the tissue of the liver from the effects of processing all those waste products. Brazil nuts are chock-full of selenium, and oats are another great source.

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4. Cilantro

Cilantro contains linalool, which helps to support the liver. Try adding the herb to salads and smoothies to get a daily fix.

A Delicious Smoothie Alternative to Activated Charcoal

If you really want to support your body’s detoxification system, you can steer clear of the juice shop and save your money. Try blending up these ingredients at home for a delicious detox smoothie instead:

  • ½ cup mango
  • ½ a green apple
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple
  • ½ cup coconut water
  • 1 cup of cilantro

Check out my free 4-day hormone detox and evaluation to understand exactly what’s out of whack with your hormones and how you can start getting back to balance.

Want to learn how to unlock the power of food to heal your body, prevent disease & achieve optimal health? Register now for our FREE Functional Nutrition Webinar with Kelly LeVeque.

Alisa Vitti

Alisa Vitti is a women's hormone and functional nutrition expert and pioneer in female biohacking. Alisa is dedicated to helping women understand how to get their hormones to work without medication and break free from the menstrual mythology that prevents them from optimizing their health and lives. She is the best selling author of the much loved purple period book, WomanCode, and creator of the Cycle-Syncing® Method—a female centric diet and lifestyle program that leverages hormonal patterns for optimal health, fitness and productivity.As the founder of The FLO Living Hormone Center, she has built the world's first menstrual healthcare platform that has helped hundreds of thousands of women around the world put their period issues like PCOS, Fibroids, Endometriosis, and PMS into remission naturally using her highly effective FLO Protocol and the FLO Balance Period Supplements.Finally, Alisa is also the creator the MyFLO period app—the first and only functional medicine period tracker and cycle syncing tool that teaches the user why they have each symptom, and what to do get rid of it naturally, while encouraging diet, exercise, and a lifestyle that are in sync with their cycle.A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Alisa has been featured on The Dr. Oz Show, Lifetime, and has been a regular contributor for Cosmo, Harper’s Bazaar, and Women’s Health. She has served on the wellness council for Yahoo Health, MindBodyGreen and Well & Good. She is also an advisor to several health and health tech startups. She has presented at SXSW, TEDx, Talks@Google, Summit Series Outside, Cycles&Sex, WIE Symposium, and SHE Summit and regularly trains women in the workplace on how to use her Cycle Syncing Method for greater creativity, productivity, and wellbeing at work. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
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