WITH claims of weight loss, a flat stomach, increased energy, and detoxification, it’s any wonder that teatoxes have become the latest craze among weight loss circles.
Where green juice once flooded Instagram accounts, teatox has become the new kid on the block with around 145,000 tags alone. And that’s without all the other hash tag variations from popular brands on the market.
A quick flick through teatox posts on social media will see post after post of before and after images, with many seemingly successful stories of weight loss, vitality, clear skin, less belly bloat and so on.
So what exactly is a teatox? In short, it is program based on drinking tea (but not just any tea - the tea created by teatox companies) that promotes detoxification or cleansing, and weight loss.
Ingredients contained in the tea can vary from company to company, with some listing as many as 18 ingredients in just one cup of tea.
Putting popularity aside now, what do health professionals say about teatox?
The real concern amongst practitioners is the laxative effect that can result from drinking this type of tea.
This is largely due to the ingredient senna that is present in many teatox products on the market.
Consumers are choosing to teatox in order to lose stubborn kilograms; however, according to the National Institute of Health, there’s insufficient evidence that the active ingredient, senna, actually promotes weight loss.
But it does have some side-effects that can include irritation of the stomach lining which produces a laxative effect and can contribute to stomach discomfort, cramps, and diarrhoea.
Using it for more than two weeks is discouraged since it can cause abnormal bowel function or changes in electrolyte levels that can lead to heart problems, muscle weakness, liver damage, and other harmful effects. The Australian Medical Association has expressed concern that popular teatox companies are advocating unhealthy and unrealistic weight loss, and says the tea consumption could lead to electrolyte shortage and nutrient deficiencies.
Brian Morton, a spokesman for the association, said: ''The Australian Medical Association would absolutely not recommend buying online programs like this in an effort to control weight''.
''It is unrealistic - and if you are going to use anything, read the label very carefully and get some expert advice, ” he said. As someone who has studied nutrition and followed the trends over the years, I have to say that it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to teatoxing.
At the end of the day, it's really about how you as the individual manage it.
If you combine healthy eating and exercise with the odd cup of tea (keeping in mind the information about senna contained in some varieties), you would notice improvements in your energy levels and possibly drop a few numbers off the scale.
Tea does have some great benefits including antioxidants and flavonoids.
But like anything, moderation is key and things have the potential to become harmful when taken to the extreme.
For me, I will continue to enjoy a cup of herbal tea here and there in combination with my well-balanced diet and regular exercise.
Amy Holmes is the owner of Shape Health and Fitness. Follow her blog at www.shapehealthandfitness.com.au