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Drink Up: 4 Unexpected Ingredients With Health Benefits

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Some unconventional ingredients are currently being touted as the latest health elixirs on the wellness scene. Drinks infused with maple, probiotics, and even activated charcoal, along with personal care products utilizing ancient remedies such as herbal teas, are all over the place.

There's pitaya, a fruit that is high in antioxidants and rich in iron; the activated charcoal that most likely mom and grandma kept in the medicine cabinet to treat gas and childhood poisonings; tea for cleansing and drinking; and maple water, the sap from trees before it is cooked down into the amber breakfast topper that makes pancakes a sweet experience. 

So, does drinking - and cleansing - with these ingredients actually work? To find out, we spoke to the experts and tried some of them out ourselves.

CHARCOAL

Traditionally used in medicine, charcoal draws toxins out of the body. Now, you can use it at home as a detoxifier. Juice Generation's trio of activated charcoal juices include Activated Lemonade, Activated Greens and Activated Protein. The Activated Lemonade (which this writer tried) includes raw agave, lemon, lime, alkaline water and activated charcoal. Combining the powerful detoxifying ingredients of lemon and charcoal, the elixir draws impurities out of the body, reduces bad breath and alleviates bloating. The detoxification of the drink cleans the body from the inside out. Brands such as Boscia are also utilizing charcoal to treat the skin, like their Black Charcoal Cleansing Cloths, which gently and effectively remove toxins from the skin.

MAPLE

Hydrate the healthy way with this natural ingredient: maple sap. DRINKmaple is a low-sugar and preservative-free plant-based hydration beverage. Founded by two dedicated triathletes, it contains only maple sap, harvested directly from the tree to maintain its natural inherent nutrients, antioxidants and minerals. It includes 46 naturally occurring vitamins, minerals, polyphenols, antioxidants and prebiotics. Prebiotics are non-digestible foods that make their way through the digestive system and help good bacteria grow and flourish. 

Those on restricted diets needn't worry: it's also gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan, Kosher and non-GMO. The company says it also contains more manganese than one cup of kale and has half the sugar of coconut water. The sap is obtained by sustainably tapping the trunks of maple trees on USDA-certified organic family-run farms in Vermont. Once harvested, DRINKmaple utilizes a 36-hour "tree to bottle" experience in an effort to preserve the sap's freshness, quality, taste and nutritional benefits. 

PITAYA

You've likely seen this bright magenta super fruit at juice and smoothie shops, also called dragonfruit. It's rich in antioxidants, and has powerful Vitamins B and C and active enzymes. Antioxidants may protect cells against the effects of free radical molecules produced when the body breaks down food or is exposed to tobacco smoke and radiation.

Pitaya is also a good source of iron, which carries oxygen from the lungs throughout our bodies, and magnesium, which plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm. PitayaPlus smoothie packs may assist in neutralizing free radicals, aiding in digestion and boosting energy and immunity.

The packs contain no added sugar, and are suitable for kosher or vegan diets; they're dairy- and gluten-free, organic and non-GMO. According to Chuck Casano, co-founder of PitayaPlus, "natural fiber and pre-iotics which help prepare your digestive track to fully accept the benefits of the good bacteria found in probiotics" are among the benefits for the consumer.

TEA

Whether you drink it or wash your face with it, tea has been known for centuries for its multifaceted benefits. Your Tea was developed with "Chinese Medicine practitioners over many years and ultimately perfected a blend intended to appease and heal on a large scale" according to Simon Hill, co-founder and director.

For example, the Anti-C tea "aims to perform a thorough cleanse, ridding your body of toxins and impurities that contribute to the production of cellulite" says Hill. If you prefer to cleanse, rather than drink it, try their TeaFace for the body. Combining TinyTea granules with healing high-grade essential oils allows many of the ingested benefits to soak into the skin. The cooling effect of the tea granules alleviate hot or irritated skin; the drawing out effect of the granules effectively exfoliates, and healing benefits of the patchouli herb ensure smooth, nonirritated results.

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