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Two nutrition trends to avoid

In the quest for optimal health, it’s easy to be drawn to new foods or products that have become popular in the wellness world. However, the world of wellness can be fraught with bogus claims and ideas that are not helpful for improving health. Bulletproof coffee and activated charcoal are two I keep hearing about. Here’s my view on them:

Bulletproof coffee

When I first heard of people putting coconut oil and butter in their coffee, the idea baffled me. For starters, it doesn’t sound very appetising, and secondly, why would you?

The claims around bulletproof coffee do sound impressive. From supercharged brain function, fat loss and curbing cravings, it’s not surprising people want to try it. But like most things that sound too good to be true, bulletproof coffee doesn’t live up to its hype.

The claims that bulletproof coffee helps fat loss are based on the fact that coconut oil contains small amounts of medium chain triglycerides. These are burned more readily as fuel in the body than other fats, but this doesn’t make coconut oil a weight-loss tool – it won’t magically make you lose weight. It still contains as much energy as other fats and it doesn’t have any special ability to burn body fat.

Some say that bulletproof coffee keeps them full all morning, but the issue with replacing a meal with coffee and coconut oil/butter is that you miss out on nutrients. It contains large amounts of saturated fat but has little nutritional value. It just doesn’t contain the vitamins, minerals and fibre that you might get from a breakfast meal such as eggs on toast or oats with fruit, nuts and yoghurt.

Feel free to drink your coffee, but just skip the butter and coconut oil and start your day with a nourishing breakfast instead.

Activated charcoal

It seems we’re always trying to fight toxins through nutrition. The latest way is with activated charcoal. It is used in medicine to treat an overdose of certain drugs or poisoning. It works by trapping them in the intestinal tract to reduce the amount of poison absorbed by the body. Because of this, some promote it as a detoxifier that can remove impurities from your digestive system.

The thing is, we don’t need to do anything to detox our bodies. Our body does a perfectly good job of removing toxins itself and has its own inbuilt detoxification system – our liver, kidney, skin and lungs. We pee, poo and sweat out toxins – no charcoal required!

There is no evidence that activated charcoal removes ‘toxins’ from the body, except for its medical uses. Taking activated charcoal could possibly have negative effects too. If you take prescription medicine, it is possible that it could affect your medication’s absorption so it won’t be effective.

It sounds so boring, but the best advice really is the basics. Nourish your body with healthy, minimally processed foods, keep active, get enough rest and manage stress. Those are the best ways to support your body in wellness.

First published: Aug 2017



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