Brace yourselves people, there’s a new diet fad about to sweep the nation, it’s called the Teatox Diet and it’s becoming insanely popular through promotion on sites such as Instagram and Facebook.
What is Teatox?
Teatox involves speciality teas and a typical detox diet to help you lose weight in a fast amount of time. At the moment, there are 3 or 4 companies who are offering different variations of this Teatox but I won’t give them the free advertising of naming any of them here.
Teatox companies claim to ‘cleanse’ the digestive tract, detoxify the body, reduce body fat, lower cholesterol, restore the body’s natural balance, and reduce cellulite. At least one site claims that their tea is adapted from traditional Chinese Medicine, another one proudly claims that they create their product with the help of Naturopathic doctors.
Possible side effects that the companies admit to are: Upset stomachs, nausea, cramping, diarrhoea, dizziness and fainting.
Analysing the Detox diet
Essentially the only difference between Teatox and a regular Detox diet is the addition of tea, so first I am going to look at the detox diet extolled by one of the Teatox companies.
You start the day with a large glass of water with lemon to ‘aid digestion’ – Okay first point of contention, there is no scientific evidence that water and lemon helps digestion. This is just anecdotal evidence stated as fact.
Then you are going to drink 200mls of vegetable juice whilst swishing it in your mouth to increase saliva and improve digestion – Second point of contention, again not finding much scientific evidence that you need to chew liquids for better digestion
30 minutes after your vegetable juice you will have some Muesli (organic if possible)with a load of fruit or dried fruit added, and soy milk rather than regular milk – So far this breakfast is floating around the 90% carbohydrate mark. Not much fat and almost no protein. There doesn’t seem to be much of a scientific approach to the design either, seems like someone has collected a large amount of old wives tales and then designed a food plan around them. I’m expecting them to tell you to chew your food 30 times before swallowing any second now ….
A mid morning snack of MORE fruit and some green tea follows.
Lunch – One or two sandwiches (No white bread) containing salad, bean sprouts and avocado or tahini as a replacement to butter. Okay so the whole white bread = devil food myth has to stop now. Both white bread and wholemeal bread have a high GI (Glycaemic Index), with wholemeal bread very slightly lower. But that’s if they are eaten on their own! When was the last time someone ate bread on its own without anything else? Combine the high GI bread with fats and protein however (you know, like in a sandwich or something?) and suddenly the GI level goes right down. So if your sandwich has a high protein and fat level then it really doesn’t matter what bread you are using. Now if we look at the sandwich they are recommending you might notice how low the protein and fat levels are in it making their option a high GI option regardless of what bread is used.
Next there is a mid-afternoon snack of EVEN MORE fruit followed by dinner which is essentially brown rice (as opposed to white rice, which is ridiculous, see above) steamed vegetables and a portion of fish every other day! So you are only allowed one proper serving of protein every two days? Considering a high protein diet is probably one of the best fat loss diets there is, I find it staggering that this company would actively encourage avoiding protein in favour of more carbohydrates.
Though it sounds like a lot, this diet is actually very low in calories, very low in protein, and low in fat. This is not a balanced diet, and seems designed to be short term. Pay for your two week detox, eat very-low calorie meals, then you are on your own. Not that the people buying this product are planning for their long-term health, the majority see this as a short term, quick-fix crash diet.
Also see: What happens to your body when you crash diet?
Analysing the Teatox health claims
1. The tea is made using a special blend that is used in traditional Chinese alternative medicine.
Don’t really want to go too far down this road, so I will quote John Diamond who wrote “There is really no such thing as alternative medicine, just medicine that works and medicine that doesn’t”. So if this product is an alternative to medicine then it is in fact NOT a medicine.
2. The tea uses Naturopathic Doctors
As with the previous entry, alternative medicine is completely unregulated in the UK. It has been rejected by the medical community as it does not have scientific evidence supporting any of its claims.
3. The tea can be used to ‘cleanse’ your body
Firstly, you do not need to cleanse your body, it does this naturally. Secondly, avoiding junk food, drinking water and including fibre in your diet will do more for you than any detox program. ‘Cleanse’ is just an industry buzzword that is useful to companies as there is no way for your average consumer to test this.
4. The program will detoxify you
There is no scientific evidence that detox diets can produce any benefits, none whatsoever. There is no evidence that the diets will detoxify you. You know what gets rid of toxins? Your liver, kidneys, skin etc … Not a coffee enema or special tea
5. The program will restore the body’s natural balance
Do I even need to bother with this? No of course it won’t, nor does it need to. It is a made up solution to a made up problem. You do not need to re-balance your body and there is no way to test it if you did.
6. Teatox will reduce cellulite
There is no scientific evidence that anything reduces cellulite long-term. It is a myth that cellulite is caused by toxins, so detoxifying the body would not help. Not that Teatox could detox the body anyway!
7. Teatox produces weight-loss
There is no scientific evidence that detox diets help with weight-loss, there may be some short term weight loss due to water-loss but that will go away after a couple days and is a very dangerous way to lose weight.
A couple of other points on Teatox
The teatox diet became big news after it was discovered that some of the companies’ teas contained senna. It is from the senna leaf that modern laxatives are created. Taking laxatives when you don’t need them is a popular way for people to lose weight. Not fat mind, just water weight. This produces a short term weight-loss effect and can make you look thinner but at a risk of damaging your body. Side effects of using laxatives include vomiting, nausea, diarrhoea, dizziness, fainting, and dehydration. Most of these effects will make you appear to have lost weight but are a terrible way to achieve this.
Let’s be honest here, there is a lot of cross-over here between detox diets and eating disorders. The Teatox diet I mentioned above involves a very low-calorie diet, it is seen by people doing it as an extreme way to lose weight. Yeah the companies might try to focus their marketing on re-balancing your body, or detoxifying etc … but make no mistake the majority of people who do this are doing this to lose weight, fast. This is not a healthy way to achieve fat-loss, it is not even a scientifically proven way to lose fat. At their worst detox diets are a way for people to half starve themselves without their friends, family, and co-workers judging them.
Detox diets are the snake oil of the 21st century, a way for companies to sell their useless products using pseudoscience and anecdotal evidence to people who are desperate. Even 20 minutes of research would tell you that these products are wrong. They are a disgrace to the supplement industry, a disgrace to the fitness industry and the world would be a better place if they were banned altogether.