If you've spent time scrolling through Instagram recently, you've probably seen a lot of celebs posting pics with their favorite new beverage of choice: detox tea. Everyone from Hilary Duff to Nicki Minaj (not to mention just about every Kardashian) seem to love taking selfies with the herbal concoctions they swear helped them lose weight, feel great, and stay in Hollywood shape.
But besides the fact that these stars are paid thousands of dollars to promote these products (and who knows whether they actually use them?), there are many reasons you should stay far away from trendy "teatox" brands.
Don't get me wrong; to say I love tea is an understatement—I'm a veritable tea fanatic! Since quitting coffee and all caffeinated drinks in my 20s, I've been a big fan of herbal options and have compiled an impressive collection of blends and flavors. Tea is an incredibly powerful health tool. Studies have linked it to a lower risk for depression, heart disease, and stroke and the development of type 2 diabetes. But armed with that knowledge, it's important to understand why not all teas are created equal.
Scientific evidence indicates that tea itself is not an effective method for weight loss if you're overweight or obese. So how do you explain any changes on the scale? Most detox teas include a laxative like senna leaf, which can help you shed excess water—but it won't do a thing for your metabolism. Most of these brands actually state that weight loss isn't likely to happen without a healthy diet and exercise, but it's in microscopic print buried on their websites, so few people know to look for it.
Senna and other laxatives can come with a long list of side effects, especially if you're drinking multiple cups a day. In the short term, you can experience nausea, diarrhea, and stomach cramps, and if you ingest way too much or take it for too long (which is easy to do when you're doing a teatox), you can even experience an electrolyte imbalance in the blood and damage your bowel function. Scary, right?
In addition to laxatives, many detox teas include a plant ingredient called guarana. You've probably seen this listed on the label of "energy" drinks as well. But its caffeine content can have a number of concerning side effects like nausea, vomiting, anxiety, headaches, and an increased heart rate. And it's a particularly problematic ingredient for women.
All that said, I'm a daily tea drinker who truly believes in the healing power of the right brews. Even just the ritual of preparing a steaming cup can be so relaxing. But it's crucial to pick the right ones that will actually benefit your health. Here are the teas I recommend and regularly drink myself:
This is a great natural detoxifier that supports digestion and elimination and is full of fiber and vitamin A, an important nutrient for liver detoxification.
Cinnamon has been shown to help stabilize blood sugar and improve glucose and lipid levels in people with type 2 diabetes. It's even been shown to promote healing and negate some of the detrimental consequences of a high-fat meal.
Burdock is a centuries-old detoxifier. It's a blood builder and cleanser, which is essential in helping the liver purge excess hormones and other toxins.
If you're relying on tea for an immediate laxative effect, senna isn't the way to go. Instead, I recommend drinking a magnesium supplement in combination with vitamin C; this combo won't only have a laxative effect, but will actually have hormonal health benefits as well.
Once you know what truly works for your body, you're empowered to make the best decisions for your health. Cheers!
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