New year, new you — right? But if you’re tempted to try teatoxing — or drinking teas that have been marketed for weight loss, detoxification and boosting energy, typically for 14 to 28 days — to achieve that “new you,” listen up.
Drinking tea isn’t necessarily a bad thing In fact, tea contains natural plant compounds called flavonoids and catechin, which both function as powerful antioxidants. Research has also shown that drinking tea can aid in heart health, blood sugar control for people with type 2 diabetes and help improve cognitive function.
Now, the bad news: There’s no scientific evidence to support that teatoxing can help detoxify the body or help you lose weight. Popular teatoxing plans like Skinny Teatox, Skinny Mint, Lyfe Tea, Bootea and Fit Tea understand that. The teatoxing websites provide disclaimers, and advise followers to eat a healthy diet. They also mention that the tea may have a laxative effect, which means you need to stay close to a restroom while you’re teatoxing.
What’s more, teatoxes often contain ingredients with potentially harmful side effects. Here’s what you need to know about a few of them:
1. Garcinia Cambogia
The hydroxycitric acid in the fruit supposedly decreases the number of new fat cells created by the body, helps with appetite control and limits the amount of weight you gain. However, according to the National Institute of Health, although garcinia cambogia seems to be fairly safe, it can cause side effects like headaches, nausea and issues in the upper respiratory tract, stomach and intestines. Further, some folks taking weight-loss supplements containing garcinia cambogia reportedly developed liver damage. It’s tough to determine if that was due to taking a combination of ingredients found in weight loss supplements, or because of garcinia cambogia itself.
This plant is named for the Guarani tribe in the Amazon, which uses the plant’s seeds to brew a beverage. Guarana is used as a stimulant, and is frequently added to energy and weight-loss supplements. It contains caffeine, which stimulates the nervous system, heart and muscles. It also contains theophylline and theobromine, which are natural chemicals similar to caffeine. Although guarana is touted as a weight-loss aid, the NIH says there’s not enough evidence to make that claim. Further, guarana can be dangerous in people with health conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, anxiety, glaucoma, osteoporosis and bleeding disorders.
The leaves and fruit of the senna plant are used for medicinal purposes. It’s FDA-approved as a nonprescriptive laxative; however, the NIH says there’s not enough evidence to claim it can assist with weight loss. Senna is also potentially unsafe for people who take it for two or more weeks. It can also interact with medications like birth control, Coumadin and diuretics, and with herbs like horsetail and licorice.
4. Yerba Mate
The leaves of this plant are used to make medicine. Again, there is not enough evidence to suggest it helps you lose weight, according to the NIH. It can potentially be unsafe when taken over a long period of time and can increase the risk of certain types of cancer (like bladder, kidney and mouth). Yerba mate is also potentially dangerous for people with certain medical conditions like high blood pressure, glaucoma, heart conditions, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome. It also interacts with numerous drugs like antidepressants, medications for diabetes, contraceptive drugs and herbs and supplements like creatine, magnesium and calcium.
Although consuming foods and drinks ” in moderation” is usually a good idea, that’s just not the case for teatoxes. I recommended avoiding teatoxing altogether, since they contain potentially harmful ingredients, which can interact with many common medical conditions, medications, herbs and supplements. As for the claim that these teas detoxify your body, your organs, including your liver, skin and kidneys, naturally detoxify your body and they don’t need any help. So, if you’re planning on spending money on any teatox plan, do yourself a favor and save it instead. If you’re dead set on doing a teatox, I recommend following it for as few days as possible and to consult with a doctor and registered dietitian to ensure that your health won’t be in danger.
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