Time to TeaTox

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Think a diet plan that involves drinking vast quantities of tea sounds perfect? Faye Remedios weighs the pros and cons

When excessive late nights, unhealthy food choices and stress—all horrible skin enemies—come into play, your body rebels and you might be tempted to do something drastic to restore balance. The most popular penance of this kind is the juice cleanse, the one that models and celebrities swear by and doctors and nutritionists hate. More recently, we heard of the Giselle (Bündchen) diet. This is a plant-based plan that forbids anything that causes inflammation, including sugar, white flour and iodised salt, and—surprise, surprise—it has been found to have no real basis in science. In addition, several experts believe that the human body is designed to eliminate toxins on its own, with the liver and the kidneys doing the main work here. This theory, for the most part, makes the benefits of juice cleanses highly debatable.

So, what does a diet-phobe who doesn’t want to go on a rigorous liquid meal plan or follow a supermodel routine that also requires having the willpower of one do? Basically, if you want to put yourself through a short detox plan that isn’t too drastic, you don’t have to look too far from your favourite morning cuppa. Try a teatox, which, incidentally, also has supermodel approval. So, what does a diet-phobe who doesn’t want to go on a rigorous liquid meal plan or follow a supermodel routine that also requires having the willpower of one do? Basically, if you want to put yourself through a short detox plan that isn’t too drastic, you don’t have to look too far from your favourite morning cuppa. Try a teatox, which, incidentally, also has supermodel approval.  Kendall Jenner is said to have credited her staying sane during hectic fashion weeks to sipping on about 12 cups of detox tea a day. And it seems she isn’t the only one. Read our primer and decide if this plan is your cup of tea.

WHAT’S A TEATOX?

“Teatox, or tea-detox, is done to flush out all the toxins from your body, and it claims to help you lose weight and have brighter skin,” explains Dr Rashi Chahal, chief of dietetics, Paras Hospitals, Gurgaon. “It also helps reduce the visibility of cellulite. The teas are made using all natural and organic ingredients, like cinnamon, fennel, rooibos, ginger, juniper berries, coriander, sage, turmeric, anise seeds and burdock root.” The teas recommended are not your usual milk-sugar-tea leaves concoctions but rather herb and spice infusions that are prescribed specifically to target certain conditions. So you cannot embark on a teatox without the guidance of a doctor or nutritionist.

“The world is now discovering themedicinal benefits of fresh tea from the world over,” says nutritionist Dhvani Shah of FIMS Diet Clinic, Mumbai. “For instance, one up matcha tea from Japan has the oxygencarrying (orantioxidant) capacity of 137 cups of green tea! Doctors and health professionals have begun to tap these nutritional benefits of tea for therapeutic uses.”

HOW DOES IT WORK?

“Drinking flavonoid-rich tea protects the heart, skin, brain and bones, helps manage stress and also maintain body weight, and fends off cancer and Type 2 diabetes,” explains Dr Preeti Jain, senior dietician, Action Cancer Hospital. Detox teas also count towards your daily water requirement, which is useful if you have trouble getting
your eight glasses in every day. Dr Jain says, “Better hydration combined with the antioxidants and polyphenols found in tea will help repair and replenish your skin. Teatox helps clear out the toxins so sleep is more restorative and rejuvenating, leading to better-rested, energetic days.” She adds that this detox programme works on two levels. In the morning, it acts as a stimulant and provides a steady supply of energy for the day. It also increases metabolism and aids with appetite suppression. In the evening, it cleanses and detoxifies your body. It’s a kind of colon cleanse that flushes your digestive tract of toxins and other excess, helping you lose weight.

Dr Chahal recommends a teatox to improve your overall health. These teas can help you absorb nutrients better, their antioxidant content strengthens your immunity and protects you from allergies and they can improve the functioning of your liver, kidney and colon.

IS THERE A WRONG WAY TO DO IT?

Green, black and white teas contain caffeine, so they have to be drunk in moderation. Not all teas are created equal. “Not all herbs suit everyone. Lactating and pregnant women and people suffering from migraines and acidity must especially take care when they choose a herbal tea,” warns Dr Larra Shah, a practitioner of natural medicine. “People having impaired liver functions, colitis or any chronic gut issues should avoid teatoxing and anyone on medication, especially contraceptive pills, should consult their doctors to confirm that the tea won’t interfere with their treatment,” says Dr Madhuri Pawar of Aesthetics Medispa.

The cleansing portion of a teatox usually involves senna leaf, which comes with all the side-effects of a laxative, like cramps. “If you experience diarrhea, headache, vomiting, dizziness or severe cramping, reduce the strength of the colon cleanse tea bags (steep the tea bag for only a few seconds), or stop drinking it altogether and consult a doctor,” says Dr Pawar. “Anyone under the age of PINEAPPLE15 as well as women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should avoid drinking teas as some blends can be too strong,” cautions Dr Jain. She advises teatoxing two to four times a year but recommends a six-week break between each session, which can last for 14 or 28 days.

You need to be strong and healthy to do a teatox. Dr Jain says, “If you have recently taken antibiotics or have been generally unwell, do not begin a teatox as the detoxification process puts extra strain on your body. It is better to wait a few weeks until you are fully recovered.” Most importantly, keep in mind that tea is not a meal replacement. Nitisha Naik, nutritionist and food science researcher at the Institute of Chemical Technology, says, “A teatox should not replace a healthy diet or exercise. Use your intuition and a nutritionist’s advice and continue to eat healthy foods like fruits and vegetables and stick to the recommended amount of calories per day.”

MIX IT UP

Dr Shah suggests infusing cold tea with cloves, aniseeds, saffron, ginger or peppermint but advises against using more than one spice at a time. “Teas must be made from fresh herbs and ingredients, like green tea leaves, tulsi leaves, peppermint or rose petals, for maximum benefits. Avoid too much lemongrass, ginger, neem, fenugreek or basil. Use your local or garden herbs and avoid preserved imported ones,” she says. Dhvani suggests you do your own research to find out which tea is best for the results you’re seeking. “Then include three-four cups of the tea in the day—first cup on waking up, second mid-morning, third at tea-time and the fourth cup an hour before dinner. Remember that your tea should be made and drunk exactly as prescribed by your nutritionist, or it may cause acidity, restlessness or irritable bowels.”

THE TEATOX MENU

What to eat

• FRUITS
• VEGETABLES
• BEANS AND LENTILS
• TOFU
• OATS
• POTATOES
• BROWN RICE
• FISH
• UNSALTED NUTS AND SEEDS
• NATURAL YOGHURT
• WATER

What to avoid

• FATTY MEATS LIKE BACON, SAUSAGES AND HAMBURGERS
• CHEESE AND CREAM BUTTER, MARGARINE, UNHEALTHY OILS
• BAD CARBS, LIKE CROISSANTS, DONUTS, CRONUTS, BISCUITS, CAKES, PIES OR PASTRIES
• CHOCOLATE (A SMALL AMOUNT OF DARK CHOCOLATE IS ALLOWED)
• ALCOHOL AND TOBACCO SODAS THAT TEND TO BE HIGH IN SUGAR

SUPER TEAS

DR PREETI JAIN, SENIOR DIETICIAN, ACTION CANCER HOSPITAL DRAWS UP A LIST OF TEAS THAT ARE USUALLY INCLUDED AS PART OF A DETOX PROGRAMME.

MORNING TEAS

GREEN TEA
MATE LEAVES
NETTLE LEAVES
DANDELION HERB
GUARANA SEED
GRAPEFRUIT LEAVES
STRAWBERRY
PINEAPPLE

EVENING OR NIGHT TEAS

SENNA LEAVES
GINGER ROOT
ORANGE LEAVES
LEMONGRASS
PEPPERMINT
LIQUORICE ROOT
HAWTHORN BERRY
PSYLLIUM HUSK

Photographs: GETTY IMAGES, SHUTTERSTOCK
**disclaimer: this article is for information purposes only; consult your nutritionist for further advice

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