Detox teas that claim to help users lose weight are sparking controversy as to whether they are safe and effective or harmful and unproductive.
Detox tea diets are used by people looking to either lose weight or flush out their system. According to livestrong.com, “A tea detox diet involves drinking one or several kinds of teas to flush out your colons and kidneys.”
The website also explains that most detox diets include fasts, causing food choices to be restricted to pureed fruits, vegetables and broths. “Solid foods are usually banned or severely restricted based on the theory that you can’t properly clean your digestive system if you keep refilling it,” according to livestrong.com.
Detoxes last between 14 or 28 days and can be used by both men and women. In addition to reducing bloating and increasing weight loss, the teas can result in clearer skin and a faster metabolism. These teas are made using organic Chinese ingredients like cinnamon, nettle leaf, ginger root, and celery root. Detox tea diets can be bought online through websites such as skinnytea.com, yourtea.com, skinnyfoxdetox.com, and many others.
Alanna Doughty, a junior social work major, said, “I just started using a 28-day detox ten days ago with a few other girls that I live with. So far, I have lost three pounds and my skin has cleared up immensely. I am excited to see the final results and would recommend the detox to any of my other friends.”
This trend is growing in popularity and is being featured on television shows such as “Dr. Oz” and “The Chew.” In an episode that aired during 2012, Dr. Oz, a doctor turned television personality, said, “One of the easiest and most natural ways to lose weight is by drinking tea, but you have to be sure to drink the teas at the right time. About 30 minutes before each meal is good.”
Most of the tea websites suggest not only to drink the teas before every meal, but also to follow a specific diet. The diet includes only organic and natural foods and suggests not eating any raw vegetables and only drinking warm liquids. It is suggested that they will help boost your metabolism in addition to drinking tea.
Christopher Hirschler, a health and physical education professor at the University, does not condone use of the detox teas. He said, “The human body naturally does a wonderful job detoxifying. However, many people overload it with harmful substances. For example, about 95% of humans’ intake of dioxin, a potent cancer causing agent, comes from animal products, including meat, diary, and eggs. I would look at decreasing my exposure to harmful substances rather than investing in an unproven product.”
Alissa Brink, freshman graphic design major, started a tea detox about a year ago. She said, “I would not use a detox like this again. I should have done more research prior to using the tea. On the website they do not list any reviews or potential side effects of the teas. That should have been a red flag.”
Brink, when using the tea, was hoping to not lose weight, but to become healthier and rid her body of toxins. She said instead of this, her body reacted to the tea as if it had laxative qualities. She said, “I immediately stopped drinking the tea and saw my doctor. He said I am not the first person who did not know that the teas would have this effect. If I kept drinking the tea, I would have lost an unhealthy amount of weight.”
Franca Mancini, Director of Counseling and Physiological Services, suggests seeing a physician prior to using the teas, as well as using them in a healthy manner. She believes that some people who try diet fads can become more concerned with body image and significant weight loss than becoming healthy. She explained, “If there are underlying body image concerns, it can easily become a risky behavioral pattern for the person. Detox programs in general can affect other bodily systems, and since it will lead to what appears to be a weight loss, if the individual does have underlying concerns or perhaps an eating disorder, it could complicate things and become an addictive behavior.”
According to the websites where the teas can be purchased, by reducing bloating, the body will shed pounds quickly. Doughty said that the claim of quick results is one of the reasons she and her friends started drinking the detox teas.
Chris Kelly, junior health studies major, said, “Crash dieting [and losing weight quickly] deprives the body of the essential nutrients needed for every day functions. It will be harder to maintain the weight loss over longer period of time.”
Professor Hirschler said, “When considering any health product it is important to ask several questions. Is it safe and effective? What evidence is there for the health claims being made? Is there a profit motive? And what does the FDA [Food and Drug Administration], CDC [Centers for Disease Control], or other credible health sources have to say about the product? In terms of weight loss – it’s not magical .You don’t need a ‘special’ tea [to lose weight].”
PHOTO TAKEN from http://organicmakeupgirl.wordpress.com