I find that many people searching for a healthier alternative to weight loss diets ask the question – does drinking herbal tea help weight loss?
In all cultures, past and present, the drinking and blending of herbal teas has been used and practiced for many centuries. The knowledge of its health benefits and healing powers have been passed down from many cultures and generations and still continues today. They have played an important part within the weight loss industry and advocated by celebrities like Kylie Minogue and J-Lo to help keep their waist lines in check and such celebrities can be very influential in starting trends amongst the masses.
Most of us will cringe when we hear that four-lettered word… D-I-E-T! We are constantly suckered into the latest fad in weight loss programs, supplements, videos and books that make big claims (usually false) in radically reducing weight in the shortest amount of time. As a society so fixated on image and conforming to what is acceptable, some have even gone to extremes of having surgery just to lose a few inches!
We are continually reminded that to be thin is ‘in’. Billboards, adverts in magazines, buses, newspapers, TV programs and films bombard us with images of either celebrities or models looking slim and toned. It is unfortunate that a lot of us will succumb to this ideology and many will spend ridiculous amounts of money and time to achieve this.
The Natural Way
Sadly, many of the weight loss ‘ingestion methods’, such as shakes, capsules or pills are chemically-fulled and synthetically man-made so will incur nasty side effects. Thankfully, there are more natural and alternative methods to combat this.
Traditionally, herbal tea was used for medicinal purposes and subsequently, as a refreshing drink. They have been used to treat most health conditions and ailments – from arthritis and high blood pressure, to colds and skin problems, and even stress and weight loss.
There are a number of herbal tea recipes that can help with weight loss but should not be relied on solely to achieve this.
Diuretics and Laxatives
Certain herbal teas have diuretic (increased urine discharge) or laxative properties that eases water retention and regulates the digestive system. Examples include Alfalfa, Dandelion, Nettle and Senna. They can also be used to remove water and food weight before digestion and help your body to reduce the sensation of feeling bloated.
Many ardent dieters claim that diarrhea keeps the body from absorbing calories or fat but this is not a valid argument and could cause dehydration and dependency on laxatives.
Stimulants and Metabolism Boosters
A number of studies have shown that some herbs, for instance, Guarana and Kola Nut can act as stimulants which can speed up certain bodily functions such as an increase in digestion, respiration and heart rate. This is due to its caffeine content and can provide a quick yet brief boost to your metabolism which can aid in increasing the rate you burn fat. The drawback for this is that caffeine can increase your appetite so you could find yourself back at square one!
Natural appetite suppressors, such as Garcinia Cambogia (Mangosteen) and Hoodia Gordonii, have been widely acclaimed in helping with weight loss due to its actions to ‘trick’ the mind into thinking the stomach is full. Hoodia Gordonii has been used for many centuries by South African Khoisan herders to undergo long periods without food or water whilst hunting and gathering. However, prolonged use could lead to addiction and malnutrition.
Weight problems often occur due to poor a digestion system and gastro-intestinal disorders. Therefore, a healthy gastro-intestinal system is one of best ways to regulate your weight as the body functions better when waste matter is stabilized. Aloe Vera, Fennel, Ginger, Liquorice, Papaya and Senna are some of the herbs that can aid in stimulating the intestine in order to promote regular bowel movements.
Certain herbs, such as, Cinnamon or Siberian Ginseng can be used for their ability to stabilize and regulate blood sugar. They work by slowing the absorption of food so you feel fuller for longer and to help curb the desire to eat sugary foods. Caution should be undertaken if you suffer from high blood pressure or taking blood-thinning drugs such as aspirin and warfarin as this could increase the risk of bleeding.
Although not classed as a herbal tea (as its leaves come from the actual tea plant camellia sinensis), Green Tea has had the most comprehensive research carried out and is the closest thing to a weight loss herbal tea that has proven to be effective.
It contains powerful anti-oxidants called ‘polyphenols‘. The most active and most studied component is ‘apigallocatechin gallate‘ (EGCG), as this is responsible for its slimming effects. Green Tea also contains caffeine which gives the drink its stimulant effects that can increase metabolism and help burn fat and calories. These ingredients are the reason why they are used in popular diet pills.
The bottom line is, drinking herbal tea can assist in weight loss but with all dietary guides, there needs to be a combination of an active lifestyle and a balanced diet to battle the bulge. Although herbs have been used extensively throughout history, care should be taken when self-administering herbs. Due to their varied actions and nature, some can end up doing more harm than good.