Slimming teas?

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    SLIMMING teas was a term designed by unscrupulous manufacturers who claim that drinking them would lead to loss of weight. These teas are marketed as a diet aid for weight control and some vendors even say they are good for the skin.

    How did this all start?

    These unsupported claims have been around for centuries, where herbal teas were described to have properties that cause loss of weight through their effect on the metabolism, appetite, and by directly dissolving fats. Chinese, Mongolian and Italians have long believed herbal teas were effective for weight control. African herbal teas are advertised similarly, with the added claim that they reduce water retention and “cleanse the system of toxins.” Like some Chinese teas, these African teas have senna leaves in them, which have some purging effects.

    Are these teas effective as a diet aid?

    The claims that herbal teas or teas in general cause loss of weight, and therefore, effective as diet aids, are false. There are no scientific basis to show that these teas contain any ingredient that would curve or suppress the appetite, or cause so much increase in metabolism that leads to weight loss. If one drinks tea only as a way to lose weight, the only thing the person will lose is money, not weight. However, if one drinks tea often daily, without sugar or cream in it, and drinks it as an alternative (as a substitute, NOT in addition) to high calorie snack, or, if one drinks tea for breakfast and lunch, instead of eating those meals (which some people do to control weight), obviously this will lead to less calorie intake and therefore cause weight loss. This same good effect could also be achieved by eating apples, or other fruits for breakfast and raw vegetables for lunch, and have a moderate dinner. This is the healthier way to diet. To this, of course, one has to do daily regimented exercise routine.

    So drinking tea alone does not control weight?

    Most definitely, yes. If you are overweight and continue to eat the same amount of calories, drinking teas, herbal or not, even a gallon a day, will not lead to weight loss. In order to control weight properly and safely, the calories must be reduced and physical exercise increased.

    Does cutting down on rice lead to weight loss?

    Yes, cutting down on carbohydrates, like rice, bread, cakes, ice cream, can lead to weight loss, because these are sugars that have high glycemic index, and easily add pounds to the body. Totally eliminating rice 3 meals a day, for instance, will dramatically cause weight reduction, provided the rest of the (total) foods ingested daily do not exceed 1000 calories.

    Tough? Yes, but this is the safer and lesser expensive way to control weight compared to spending your hard earned money for appetite suppressant drugs, or the so-called miracle diet pills or potions that are actually very dangerous.

    Is purging a good way to lose weight?

    No, this is a dangerous way to lose weight. When one takes a laxative or any substance that has a purging effect, excessive water and electrolytes are lost through diarrhea, which is harmful to the kidneys and other vital organs. Kidney and liver failure and heart rhythm disturbances could ensue. Deaths have been reported in this type of abuse.

    Why does a person gain weight to begin with?

    This basic understanding is important, if one is to be able to control or maintain body weight safely. It is a matter of calorie intact and output. If one eats more calories than he/she expends with physical activities each day, the excess calories will add up to add pounds to the body mass. If we fill up a balloon with rice, and keeps adding to it, the balloon will keep on swelling and becomes heavier and heavier. But if we create a hole in the balloon that will allow rice to leak out, as fast as we pour more rice into it, the balance in the “input and output” will keep the balloon from becoming larger or heavier. In essence, if we exercise off the calories we take in, we can maintain our desired weight. If we are too heavy, then, we must exercise more and eat less, until we find that ideal balance of intake and output of energy.

    So, are teas bad for us?

    No, not at all. As a matter of fact, teas, especially green teas, are good antioxidant for our body. As we have reported in this column before, teas contain a lot of flavanoids, like garcetin, kaemptenol, myricetin. Studies have shown that regular intake of these compounds by drinking tea (especially the green variety) reduces the rate of acute heart attack by 40% and also significantly lowers risk of a fatal heart attack. Unlike teas, coffee, cola drinks and other caffeine-rich beverages have adverse, albeit subtle, effects on health.

    But for weight control, teas are not miracle drugs, and will be effective only (as we stated above) if taken in lieu of food. Again, drinking tea, which is a health drink unlike toxic soft drinks, will help one lose weight if, and only if, eating is moderated according to target weight and exercise is a part of the regimen. Tea alone will NOT do it.

    What are the warning signs for stroke/heart attack?

    Either of these two conditions may occur without any warning. This is why preventive measures, from early childhood onward to ward off these illnesses are essential, together with pre-emptive regular medical check-up after the age 40. Earlier, for those with strong personal or family history of hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol blood level. But the classical warnings of an impending stroke could include numbness or weakness in the face (facial asymmetry), arm or leg, or both on the same side, confusion, inability to speak, problem with vision of one or both eyes, headache, dizziness, physical imbalance. For heart attack: pressure discomfort tightness or severe squeezing under the breastbone for several minutes, or actual chest pains, pain and or numbness of one arm, jaw, neck or stomach; feeling of shortness of breath or an impending doom, cold clammy sweats; nausea, lightheadedness. Any of these symptoms, not necessarily all of them occurring at the same time, are warning signs. But why wait for them? See your physician and practice a healthy lifestyle of abstinence from tobacco, eating healthy, doing daily exercises, and managing your stress with regular relaxation with family and friends.

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    Philip S. Chua, MD, FACS, FPCS, a Cardiac Surgeon Emeritus based in Northwest Indiana and Las Vegas, Nevada, is an international medical lecturer/author, and Chairman of the Filipino United Network-USA, a 501(c)3 humanitarian and anti-graft foundation in the United States. Visit our websites: philipSchua.com and FUN8888.com Email: [email protected]