We are bombarded with ads of myriads of dietary supplements and other products that promise fast weight loss, “body cleansing”, and other effects that look too good to be true. One of the trends that is gaining popularity is teatox – detoxing made easier by drinking tea with laxatives, herbs and other extra ingredients. Do these claims stand up to scrutiny? Let’s find it out.
Preliminary notes on detoxThe issue of whether the concept of detox is misleading has been a subject of heated debates for a long time. There are many a program the developers–and sellers–of which claim a particular product of theirs can rid your body of toxins that accumulate there due to metabolic and other processes. This part of detox is absurd: there are no toxins as they are defined by such proponents of “healthy lifestyle involving consumption of various supplements”. The only thing that can be considered a toxin of the kind close to what is described by such manufacturers is fat. But fat is accumulated due to poor eating patterns, failing to maintain proper physical activity levels, and consuming unhealthy foods (health conditions aside). The rest of the “toxins” simply do not exist. To actually lose weight, one has to limit calorie intake – if the usual consumption exceeds the norm – improve the quality of foods, and start exercising more. Claims that laxatives and herbs help you lose weight are not true.
Dangers of teatoxTeatox is a new trend, the advocates of which say drinking teas enhanced with special ingredients, like laxative compounds and diuretics, can be effective at cleansing your body. Unlike common detox, teatox implies consumption of teas, not juices (with no sugar, of course).
Weight loss illusionMost consumers of detox products do it, because they want to lose weight, and some report seeing an inspiring number on their scale screen after several days of drinking a teatox drink. While it looks promising, the way it works is really a frightening one. The thing is, teatox drinks contain laxatives and diuretics, which boost processes of elimination of urine from the body. By doing so, they deplete fluid supplies, so you become dehydrated. Remember the last time you had diarrhea – you may even feel lighter afterwards, and your scales will cheer you up, but it’s not fat that you lose, but water. Once you drink enough liquid, your weight will be no different from what it used to be. That is one of the reasons why teatox is dangerous: while it makes you think you are doing a good thing that is beneficial for health, it actually undermines it. For example, it can lead to blood potassium deficit, liver diseases (for instance, when senna is added to such drinks) diarrhea and a number of other health problems.
Dangers withinAnother reason why teatox should be avoided is that it can interfere with the effects of the medications that you take on a regular basis. Be it diuretics and laxatives or just some herbs used as ingredients, they can react with the chemicals in medicines rendering them useless. It is especially dangerous if you take drugs that help prevent blood clots (like warfarin), treat cardiovascular diseases, and, well, just anything else. Before introducing a new drink or other product enriched with some additives, consult a doctor to make sure they do not interfere with your medications.
Is there a safe option?Yes. You can drink a couple of cups of common black or green tea a day without much damage to your health, and it could even bring some benefits. Just don’t drink it too hot, as it can be dangerous if combined with alcohol. Tea contains caffeine, so its consumption must be restricted in those who suffer from cardiovascular diseases or other conditions, which caffeine can exacerbate.
Losing weight is more difficult than just drinking fad teas. If you are determined to shed pounds (of fat, not water or muscles!), start exercising regularly (there is no need to buy a gym membership card, all you need is your own weight), and follow a healthy diet.