Activated charcoal has taken the modern-day food industry abuzz not just for its mystery and intrigue but also for its health benefits. Did you know it is found in the most ubiquitous foods such as ice cream, donuts, and coffee? Although activated charcoal is starting to become popular, it was widely utilized as a popular product in natural healing around the world. It was used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for generations, and there are recorded uses of activated charcoal that date back to 1550 BC.
What Does Activated Charcoal Look Like and How is it Made?
In terms of its looks, activated charcoal usually comes in the form of black powder. It is usually produced by burning a substance without oxygen that builds a deep char. The substances can include anything from bamboo to coconut shell charcoal. When synthesized in the lab, the char is heated to a high temperature and exposed to various gases to activate the charcoal. This leads to a porous end product that is safe for consumption. Once the activated charcoal has been activated, it can bind to a substance and eventually gets absorbed. Activated charcoal is tasteless, odorless and completely non-toxic.
What are Some of Its Health Benefits?
- Removing Poison and Toxins: Activated charcoal is considered one of the most effective G.I. tract decontaminants on the market. It can quickly absorb 50-60% of unwanted elements that are found in the intestines and the stomach; in fact, these absorption effects can last for up to 2 hours. The positive effects of activated charcoal can continue to last up to two hours after it’s ingested. Many emergency rooms regularly use activated charcoal for handling certain types of poison. Charcoal can bind to and remove substances even after they enter the bloodstream.
- Oral health: Activated charcoal can be particularly powerful at removing materials from the digestive system and your teeth. It doesn’t directly neutralize toxins, but it can bind to them and quickly remove harmful substances from your mouth. Activated charcoal can quickly remove stains from the teeth and whiten teeth in just a few uses.
- Skincare: Activated charcoal also has many uses in beauty products. It’s commonly found in many facial scrubs and it’s widely effective at removing chemicals, dirt, and bacteria that can often build up along your skin. Regularly treating your skin with activated charcoal can be an excellent anti-aging solution. It will regularly remove toxins that can make you age faster.
- Regulating Cholesterol Levels: Activated charcoal can work to remove bad cholesterol and increase the incidence of good cholesterol just as you would receive from any prescription medication.
- Reduces Bloating: It can be extremely beneficial in removing gas caused by byproducts in food items. Taking 500 mg of activated charcoal can help to reduce bloating and gas regularly after a meal that contains these items.
Is Activated Charcoal Safe?
Activated charcoal is non-toxic; however, if you have any health risks, you should consult your primary care physician before internal use.
Studies Show That Healthy Food Can Help Combat Depression
The most common medical solutions to treat depression include antidepressants and SSRIs. However, rather than turning to medication, changing the way you eat can help you combat depression. Research has shown that a nutritious diet not only prevents depression but also treats it once it has started.
Epidemiologist Felice Jacka led research that examined whether or not diet plays a role in improving mood. In a group of 67 people with depression, one group was being treated for antidepressants, another group received psychotherapy, and some individuals were treated with both. Half of the individuals were advised by a dietician regarding how to incorporate a healthy diet, while the other half was given social support. After 12 weeks, the researchers found that those that received nutritional counseling showed significantly happier moods compared to those who received social support.
With other studies showing similar results, we have seen the genesis of nutritional psychiatry. This discipline, pioneered by Jacka, aims to demonstrate the role of diet in mental health and to develop nutrition-based strategies to combat brain disorders. Traditional medical education generally does not consist of a well-rounded insight into nutrition; therefore, fields such as nutritional psychiatry are working on adding another layer to medical curriculum because food can apply to other parts of the body. For example, this research study notes that a bad diet affects our microbiome, which consists of gut bacteria that are housed inside of our intestines. Gut bacteria essentially create molecules that affect the production of serotonin in the brain.
You might be asking: what foods can I eat? The research points out to a Mediterranean diet composed of “olive oil, yogurt and cheese, legumes, nuts, and seafood.” Ultimately, this diet would increase good gut-bacteria and enhance our inflammatory responses. Here are some nutrients to consider:
- DHA: Also known as Docosahexaenoic acid, DHA helps in producing BDNF, which is brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which promotes the formation of new neurons in the brain. It is also the primary omega-3 fats in the brain.
- Sources of DHA: Wild salmon, oysters, mussels
- Vitamin B6: This vitamin is crucial in serotonin production, which influences sleep and mood. Decreased serotonin is linked to depression, and a daily intake of vitamin B6 is recommended.
- Sources of Vitamin B6: Sweet potatoes, pistachios, chicken
- Probiotics: These are crucial to cultivating good gut-bacteria within the microbiome.
- Sources of Probiotics: Yogurt, kefir, kimchi
- Prebiotics: It is essential for the gut bacteria to have prebiotics to stay alive.
- Sources of Prebiotics: Onions, Garlic, Oats
A proper diet may not completely eliminate medications or therapy. However, “it can act as a supplemental treatment” with no detrimental side effects unlike antidepressants, and in the long run, it acts as a source of prevention for chronic diseases.
How to Exercise for Your Age
Keeping fit at any age can certainly be a challenge. The idea of running a marathon at 50 may seem impossible, especially after you experience a few performance injuries and recovery time starts to increase. Regular exercise has a positive impact on your health, and it is important to focus on enjoying the right type of exercise for your age group. This means choosing an activity that delivers impacts without the risk of injury. Here is a simple guide on how to do the right exercise for your age:
Adolescence and Childhood:
Exercise can help you to control body weight, maximize coordination, improve self-confidence and deliver a healthy sleep pattern in childhood and adolescence. Making sure that kids regularly get outside and develop varied skills by playing different sports is a great way to help them develop exercise habits. If you fall in this age group, you can do this by joining an intramural sports team to increase physical fitness.
Through Your 20s:
In your mid-20s, you will experience some of the fastest reaction times in the sense that your body can pump oxygen to the muscles at a quick rate. The “maximum rate at which the body can pump oxygen to the muscles” is called VO2 max. Your VO2 max continues to drop after your mid-20s by 1% each year and your reaction time also slows by 1% each year. During this time of your life, it is a good idea to introduce a regular exercise routine. You can try varying your physical activity by trying hiking, swimming, or whatever form of exercise fits with your busy schedule.
Throughout Your 30s:
Exercise can be more difficult the slot in here, often times because many people have a family or career to take care of. What is important is working in the time you need to stay healthy with a busy work schedule. Even taking the time to climb stairs and get away from your desk is important. Diversifying your exercise program was short and intense training like high intensity interval training, spin class or boot camp can be a great way to get a lot of exercise in efficiently.
Through Your 40s:
In your 40s, your metabolisms changes and most people start to put weight on in their 40s. Exercising with resistance training or weight training can be an excellent way to counteract some of the accumulation of fat. In addition, trying out a kettle bell weight training program can be a great way to change your metabolism.
Through Your 50s and 60s:
Chronic conditions start to pop up in your 50s, and this is when you may face a greater risk for type II diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Completing strength training once a week to maintain muscle mass and doing weight-bearing walking can help you get exercise without straining your body.
Through Your 70s and Beyond:
Exercise in your 70s is important for maintaining strength and preventing a fall. Going for regular walks, working on your flexibility, and doing very minor strength training with the help of a personal trainer physiotherapist can help you maintain your independence. Fitness and strength decline rapidly in the event of sickness or a time when you are bed bound. Therefore, keeping sustainable exercise is a part of your lifestyle is one of the greatest ways that you can experience ongoing health benefits.
A Brief Guide to Injury Prevention
Almost every sports game, whether that is on television or in real life, at least one athlete gets injured. These injuries can range from sprains (injuries from ligaments) to stress (injuries from bones), and they occur when there is overuse, direct impact, or application of force that is greater than how much the body can withstand. Injuries are also quite common in daily exercise routines and can often require long recovery periods with intensive care. Therefore, injury prevention is critical not just to optimize performance but also to maintain proper health. Here are a few simple tips on injury prevention:
- Adhere to Proper Form: While often overlooked, proper form can help in lessening impact stress and avoiding injury in the first place. If you are starting to exercise, you should consider learning the appropriate form and technique from a professional. The consequences of not maintaining proper form are misaligned muscles, tendons, and joints that have the potential to cause stairs. By keeping proper form, you are also ensuring that the right part of your body is getting worked.
- Purchase the Right Gear: Special attention must be given to shoes, so make sure you get the right ones that suit your exercise needs. For example, walking shoes will be a little stiffer, whereas running shoes are more flexible. Moreover, you need to understand your foot shape to know what kind of support you need for your soles. The type of shoe and insoles will not just minimize any ankle or joint foot damage but will also make your work out a more pleasant experience.
- Drink Plenty of Water: Sweating is your body’s way of losing essential fluids, so to replenish those, be sure to drink water before and after your sports training or workout, depending on the duration. Hydration will help prevent muscle cramps and keep sodium and potassium levels high.
- Eat Healthier: As seen consistently, it is no secret that Western diets are high in fats and carbs. Eating these foods will make your body gain weight and will prevent you from recovering from an injury. Instead, focus on eating tons of fruits and vegetables, as these foods are essential for recovery and injury prevention. Plant-based diets are filled with Vitamin D, calcium, and magnesium, which are optimal for bone recovery and growth.
- Know Your Physical Limitations: Understand how much your body can handle. This may mean that you need to start gradually and build up to a more vigorous workout. It is also just as important to cool down, as that gives time for the body to maintain flexibility, composure, and stability. Most importantly, listen to your body when it shows signs of immense physical fatigue.
Although these tips may help in preventive care, it is essential to be mindful of what steps to take in the case of an injury:
- Be sure to ice the injured area 15-20 minutes at a time roughly once every hour
- Wrap the injured area with a bandage
- Get plenty of rest and let the injured area heal with time
- Talk to your doctor if the pain continues to persist
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