October 07, 2013
What exactly is in the tea you drink?
Tea lovers may want to rethink their drink after learning about the high levels of fluoride in their tea. Just when we thought tea could do no wrong we discover tea plants attract fluoride like magnets!Several years ago I went organic and eliminated common allergy foods like gluten and dairy. Since then it's been fairly easy for me to self diagnose most of my (pretty minor) issues. As usual, my research takes off when I have an ailment. The particular problem that presented itself a few years ago was back acne - or bacne, as I called it. At the time my skin started breaking out I had already been vegan for a few years, and besides the new back break outs I had great results estechically from transitioning my diet: my hair had life, my nails grew like weeds and my skin mirrored my newfound health. Indeed, these improvements made me very happy and grateful. (For more on that topic here) But soon I started noticing my back was getting to be a real problem. I couldn't understand what was causing the acne since I was eating very well and flushing with lots of water and tea. I wasn't polluting my body - so why was it reacting like this. What was my body trying to tell me? Upon investigation, I noticed that the bacne seemed to get worse in the winter - which I correlated to the time I spent doing abs at the gym on the nasty, communal mats. I thought perhaps that the bacteria on the mat was mixing with sweat from my skin and subsequently clogging my pores. So I tried wearing t-shirts instead of tank tops to cover my exposed skin and I'd shower right after my workout in an effort to prevent the bacne. But there was no improvement to be seen. I was getting downright depressed by it. But more then anything I was confused. In an effort to hide my unsightly skin, I made sure the shirts I wore covered my back so no one would see it. (This was a real shame because I'm a rock climber - people see me from the back most of the time! I desperatly wanted to show-off my hard earned back muscles - but instead I kept them covered.) This went on for 2 years before I finally found a lead. I knew acne had to be created by an internal imbalance and that if we see something abnormal on our skin, it's often a sign that something is not quite right. So I've made it a habit to look into what I put in or on my body. Soon enough, I came across some very interesting articles on (my beloved) green tea. It took a lot of persistent investigative work, but I finally exposed the culprit. (Excessive) fluoride, of all things, seemed to be the cause of my bacne. A condition called flouroderma. I'd considered green tea a health supplement based on it's slew of benefits: high levels of antioxidants (free-radical scavengers), lowers bad cholesterol, increases metabolism and contains Theanine to remedy anxiety. So I drank it by the pot - I must of been averaging 5-9 cups per day. What I didn't know, is that the tea plant Camellia Sinensis is like a magnet for fluoride. The tea plant is recognized as a fluoride accumulator. Collection of fluoride in the plant comes from its natural ability to absorb fluoride from the surrounding soil and air - more so then any other edible plant. In fact, fluoride in tea is much higher than the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) set for fluoride in drinking water(!). It is estimated that 98% of the fluoride content in the tea plant is deposited in its leaves, and the older the leaves are - the higher the fluoride content. When the tea is harvested, the older leaves are often used to produce the lower quality teas found in 'economy packs' you'd find at the supermarket. Whereas the bud and newer top leaves of the tea plant are used for higher grade, specialty teas - often found loose leaf. If the area in which the tea is grown has groundwater high in flouride, even organically grown tea will have high levels of fluoride stored in its leaves. Although flouride is considered an essential micronutrient for human health (in the prevention of tooth decay and promotion of healthy bone growth) excess flouride in the diet can have detrimental effects. A study using Ion Selective Electrode Analysis (which tests for trace elements) evaluated inexpensive (or less expensive) tea bags from supermarkets and found that drinking the tea could push a person’s fluoride intake over the ‘daily recommended level’. The teas provided anywhere from 75-120% of the recommended daily intake. Studies calculated that a person drinking a litre of economy tea per day would consume about 4 mg of fluoride, the maximum recommended amount of flouride per day but below the maximum tolerable amount of 10 mg of flouride per day. People may be drinking excessive volumes of tea in addtion to other dietary sources of flouride and may not realise the potential health implications. In addition to food and beverages prepared with fluoridated water there are many common sources of flouride in our food supply, and all tea products should be considered as a main source of fluoride in the diet. Here's a look at the content of flouride found in common foods: Tea .1 ~ 4.2 ppm* Bioaccumulation in tea leaves from pesticides/pollution. Chicken 6 ~ 8.5 ppm Bioaccumulation in poultry fat/bones from pesticides in feed. Grapes/Wine 3 ~ 9 ppm Residue from Cryolite application to grape crops. Cereal 3.8 ~ 6.3 ppm Concentrated from water evaporation during drying process. Other < 130 ppm Residue on foods stored in food warehouses during fumigation with fluoride-based pesticides. *ppm or "parts per million" is a way of expressing very dilute concentrations of substances. Just as per cent means out of a hundred, parts per million or ppm means out of a million. Usually describes the concentration of something in water or soil. One ppm is equivalent to 1 milligram of something per liter of water (mg/l) or 1 milligram of something per kilogram soil (mg/kg). Beyond acne, there have been cases of skeletal fluorosis, a bone disease caused by excessive consumption of fluoride, which can cause pain and damage to bones and joints and muscle weakness in people who drank more then the average amount of economy tea. Less seriously dental fluorosis can occur, which causes white and brown spots on the enamel of the teeth. This can be the first visible sign that fluoride has poisoned enzymes in the body. Other symptoms of general fluorosis (fluoride poisoning) may include eczema, abnormal fatigue, atopic dermatitis, vomiting, hives, gum disease, kidney diseases, thyroid diseases and headaches. While most of those outcomes are at the extreme end of the scale, some people are hyper-sensitive to fluroide exposure. People can be fluoride-intolerant or fluoride-allergic from birth or from exposure and accumulation. Remember, fluoride accumulates in the body for life and often symptoms don't show themselves until much later on. Remember, you've got to take your health into consideration now to prevent future problems. To minimize your risk of fluroide toxicity from tea avoid low grade green and black tea varieties since they are made from the older leaves with the highest fluoride content. And if you're still drinking instant bottled tea like Lipton, Nestle or Arizona - stop - they contain low-quality leaves that have very low levels of anti-oxidants. With bottled and instant tea, you get the risk (fluoride) without the benefit (anti-oxidants). Before you get too discouraged, don't worry - tea is still on the menu! There are tea options that live up to their good reputation. White tea for example, is made of the new growth buds and young leaves of the plant and contain high levels of anti-oxidants, which are not only good for health in general, but help to protect against fluoride toxicity. Ideally, choose a hand-harvested, loose-leaf white tea. Why hand-harevested? Simply because machine harevested teas tend to (inadvertently) gather old leaves during harvest. If the (lower) caffeine level of white tea doesn't quite do it for you, yerba mate' (a caffeinated herbal tea from South Africa) is a fine option. In fact, all herbal teas remain good options because they don't have the elevated fluoride levels that the green and black teas do. (Did you know - herbal teas come from herbs, spices and other plant matter while white, green and black tea all come from the same plant! The diversity of the latter is based on serveral different variables, like altitude, climate, part of the plant being used and how the tea leaves are handled once picked.) The appropriate treatment for fluoroderma (in my case) or general fluoride toxicity, is to simply limit fluoride exposure. So in the end, what was the connection to the increase of my bacne and the winter months? It wasn't the "questionable-at-best" mats in the gym at all. It's easy to see now that the pots of green tea I was gulping on those frigid days (I'm from Canada, eh) plus the bottled and tap water I was drinking (...which is another story) lead to too much fluoride in my body. How am I sure it was the tea? Within two weeks of changing my tea from green to white - my bacne cleared up! No joke. I tell this story often because it was profound. By switching my tea (from essentially old leaves to young leaves) I reduced my fluoride levels dramatically. And most importantly, I can finally display my work-of-art back muscles. Freya https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fit-with-Freya/194482087393414?ref=hl