Did you ever think that something as healthy as tea can have hidden toxins?
Big brand tea companies you often see in the grocery store and even the health food store have been coming under scrutiny for the amount of toxic substances they contain.
Shockingly, many brand-name products have been found to be contaminated with fluoride, a neurotoxin that is banned throughout Europe.
1. Fluoride In Tea?!
The tea plant (Camellia Sinensis) is a fluorine accumulator. It accumulates fluoride from the soil, water and air.
The lower the quality of the tea, the more fluoride it contains (1).
It’s important to distinguish that while fluoride (calcium fluoride) is a natural mineral found in soil and water, these studies examined levels of hydrofluorosilicic acid, a pollutant produced through phosphate mining.
What Teas Are Affected?
Not all tea comes from Camellia Sinensis. Most herbal teas in fact (including roobois) come from the parts of various plants and therefore are not exposed to high levels of fluoride.
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Black And Green Tea
A 1996 study found that average fluoride concentration of infusions prepared from decaffeinated (green & black) tea was around 3.19 ppm (parts per million) and ranged from 1.01 to 5.20. When prepared with fluoridated tap water, the average was 4.19ppm (2).
These levels are dangerously high. In fact, the World Health Organization recommends that water fluoridation should not surpass the “safe” level of 1.5 ppm (3).
Herbal tea, on the other hand, only contained between 0.02-0.14 ppm.
A more recent British study warns : “Tea consumption alone can exceed the dietary reference intake of fluoride.” (4)
This means that fluoride levels in tea are so high that even without taking into account fluoridated water or fluoride-based dental products, tea drinkers are already getting too much of this dangerous toxin.
Health Effect of Fluoride
Fluoride is a cumulative toxin which can alter bone density. It also affects the balance of bone mineral metabolism (5).
Ingestion of excess fluoride, most commonly added to drinking-water, can cause fluorosis, which affects the teeth and bones progressively.
Skeletal fluorosis can cause potentially severe skeletal problems including (6):
- Bone pain
- Calcified ligaments
- Bone spurs
- Fused vertebrae
- Difficulty moving joints
- Complete immobilization of joints
Severe fluorosis may even render patients immobile.
The kidneys, primary organs of the excretion of fluoride, as also prone to disease and stone formation in cases of high fluoride consumption (7).
2. Pesticides-Laden Brands
To keep up with increasing demand, many tea growers rely on pesticides to control their crops.
Since most of the tea available on the market is being grown abroad, it does not always meet the safety standards western countries set for imported products.
Concerned, the Canadian Government examined popular tea brands to ensure their quality and safety.
Eight of the 10 brands tested by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) contained multiple harmful chemicals, with one brand containing residues of 22 different pesticides (8).
Shockingly, almost every brand exceeded maximum pesticide residue limits set by Canada’s food quality laws.
“The presence of so many pesticides on a single product and so many products that exceed the maximum residue limits for pesticides, suggests that we’re seeing very poor agricultural practices in countries, which poses risk to the environment where these products are being grown; which pose risk to the farm workers who are growing these crops, and ultimately pose risk to the Canadians who are consuming these products.” environmental lawyer David Boyd, told CBC’s Marketplace in an interview (8).
How To Enjoy Tea Without Fluoride
To put it simply, the best way to avoid fluoride in tea is to buy high quality loose-leaf products. For example, fermented tea bricks and white tea tend be very low in fluoride.
You can also switch over to herbal teas and prepare them using non-fluoridated water. These should be infused using a stainless steel or glass tea strainer.
Avoid teas that contain natural or artificial flavoring, which are typically flavored to compensate for lower quality. Tea in tea bags are also lower grade and some tea bags even contain plastics that leech into your tea.
If you’re a long-time tea drinker, you may also want to cleanse your body to avoid potantial fluorosis.