Without a doubt, one of the hottest words in health is "detox." This small word has men and women of all ages downing pills and living for days on only fruit and veggie juice, hallucinating giant slices of pizza standing ahead of them in line at the coffee shop.
We know detoxing helps clean out the body, by eliminating excess toxins and waste that accumulate from environmental factors as well as diet. But "detox" doesn't also have to mean "torture." In fact, there are products we can add to our diet to detox without taking too much away. One simple solution is licorice tea.
Tea Over Starvation
Every detox I have ever done has always made me want what I can't have. They all come with a checklist of don'ts like fried foods, desserts and even deli meats. Most often, these are not foods I am eating every day, but suddenly they are ALL I WANT. The more drastic, the least successful I was.
On the April 17 episode of "Dr. Oz," we were reminded that excess sugars need to be cut out of our diet to successfully detox. The sweet tooth has been compared to a little devil sitting on your shoulder. But what if that devil looks like your grandmother holding a plate of freshly frosted cupcakes? Not so easy to resist. But even the most overpowering sweet tooth can be defeated as we retrain our cravings. The good doctor recommended licorice tea as a solution for its sweet taste and zero calories.
Licorice tea was praised for supporting the liver, which is the body's main waste management engineer. The liver helps flush out all the bad stuff in our body. When we detox, we help boost our immune system to promote long term health while also helping to improve how we feel in the here and now. Detoxing can help eliminate bloating or water weight and keep the digestive system regular (that's the most delicate way to say it). This tea is also soothing, which can help you wind down better than a box of Girl Scout cookies.
How is it made?
Licorice tea is produced from licorice root. Licorice root is predominantly grown in Asia, Turkey and Greece and is a perennial plant that can reach up to seven feet in height. Licorice roots are woody and brown, but yellow on the inside. The roots are used to produce supplements in capsule form, extracts in liquid form and dried for teas.
How does this take the place of cake again?
Back to that taste. When you think of licorice, you may think of that bitter taste found in black licorice candy or fennel seeds -- savory, not sweet like a chocolate bar. But licorice actually tastes sweeter than sugar, which is why it is also called "sweet root" -- 50 times sweeter than sugar to be exact. The active compound in licorice root is glycyrrhizin (or glycyrrhizic acid), which provides the taste. Brewing up a glass of this tea to enjoy after a meal or while sitting on the couch in place of that bowl -- or pint -- of ice cream (no judgment here) will save you some calories. Plus, you don't need any added sweeteners.
By drinking this tea, you will help your body get back on track by kicking a bad habit without accidentally thinking your next door neighbor is an ice cream cone.