What Can Tea Really Do for Your Health? 3 Myths, Debunked
Makers of detoxifying teas tout the amazing weight-loss benefits and awesome antioxidant cleansing power of their products. But do they really work and are they safe to use? Before you run to your local health food store, you should know the truth behind three myths about detox teas.
Myth No. 1: Detox teas are healthier than green or black teas
The facts: Although there is some conflicting research, specialty detoxifying tea products likely do not offer any more true health benefits than plain green tea or black tea, says dietitian Anna Taylor, MS, RD, LD.
Green and black teas are both made from a shrub called Camellia sinensis. For black tea, the leaves oxidize before they’re dried.
To produce green tea, tea makers halt the oxidation process, so the leaves retain their color. “Both green and black teas offer health benefits,” says Ms. Taylor. “However, green tea touts more phytonutrient and antioxidant content than black tea.”
Detox tea products, on the other hand, contain other ingredients in addition to black or green tea leaves and claim to help the body’s natural detoxification processes.
Makers of many detox teas target those who want to lose weight, so the products contain ingredients that are diuretics (such as nettle leaf or dandelion leaf) or laxatives (such as senna leaf).
“This does not facilitate increased fat burning, just temporary decreased weight due to loss of body waste and water weight,” Ms. Taylor says.
Myth No. 2: Detox teas can help you lose weight
The facts: Marketers of detoxifying tea target those who want to lose weight or inches, but these products typically lead to short-term, non-sustainable weight loss.
“No tea, no matter what it contains, can counteract the damage of a poor diet,” says Ms. Taylor.
The best ways to boost your body’s natural detox capabilities?
- Eat plenty of fiber (at least 25-35 grams per day) to support regular bowel movements.
- Drink plenty of fluid (at least 64-80 ounces per day).
- Include at least between five and nine handfuls of fruits and vegetables each day in your diet , especially cruciferous veggies (such as broccoli, bok choy and cabbage), and vividly colored produce (such as berries and green leafy vegetables).
- Exercise regularly (since the body flushes out toxins via sweat as well as through urine and bowel movements).
Myth No. 3: Detox teas can cleanse your body
The question remains: Do detox teas actually do what they say they’ll do — flush toxins out of your system?
The facts: “We don’t have any evidence they actually help flush toxins out of the body more so than green tea alone,” Ms. Taylor says. “Your organs — kidneys, liver and GI tract — as well as your immune system comprise your body’s own natural detoxification center; research fails to prove any added benefits from detox teas.”
As an alternative, Ms. Taylor suggests drinking green tea over black tea and detox tea.
“Green tea is typically lower in caffeine and higher in antioxidants,” she says. “Antioxidants protect cells from free radical damage, helping your body continue to function normally. This includes fortifying the organs and immune system that are in charge of detoxification.”
The bottom-line truth about tea
Like most things that seem too good to be true, specialty tea products don’t have miracle weight loss properties. And you can count on your body to detoxify naturally.
But green tea is a healthy addition to your diet. And drinking black tea likely doesn’t hurt either.