There are many health myths in the world, but the idea of a "silver bullet" for weight loss is one of the most persistent and harmful. People often turn to detox teas, trendy diets, and other quick fixes in the hopes of losing weight fast, but one of the most dangerous methods is using laxatives. Sadly, this misguided practice is particularly popular among young women. Click here to buy alternative to Laxatives such as Colon Broom.
A study published in the month of July in the year 2016 in a Pediatrics journal found that 10.5 percent of women aged 23 to 25 had used laxatives to try to lose weight. However, misusing laxatives is never a good idea. Here's what you need to know about these products and why you should never use them for weight loss.
It's not uncommon for people who want to lose weight to turn to laxatives as a quick fix. Laxatives are intended to stimulate bowel movements, but some people believe they can also prevent calorie absorption by speeding up digestion. However, using laxatives for weight loss can lead to serious health problems if overused or used continuously. Before considering using laxatives for weight loss, it's important to understand the different types of laxatives, the amount of weight you can expect to lose, and the potential side effects you should be aware of.
According to the NIDDK which stands for National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, laxatives are a type of medication that can help treat constipation by promoting bowel movements. Constipation can result from a variety of factors, such as diet, medication, medical conditions, and stress, and can lead to complications such as hemorrhoids or anal fissures. While lifestyle modifications like increasing fiber intake, regular exercise, and hydration are the best approaches to address constipation, laxatives can be used occasionally when extra help is needed.
However, it's important to note that laxatives are intended for treating constipation and should not be used as a weight loss method. While some people believe that using laxatives can help with quick and effortless weight loss by increasing bowel movements, overuse or misuse of laxatives can have serious health consequences. Therefore, it's essential to avoid using laxatives for weight loss and seek proper medical advice if you're experiencing constipation.
Are there different classes of laxatives?
Yes, there are several classes of laxatives depending on their functions. Let’s take a look at them. Read on.
There are different types of laxatives that people use to treat constipation. Stimulant laxatives such as Dulcolax and Senokot work by causing contractions in the intestinal muscles, facilitating bowel movements. Osmotic laxatives such as Milk of Magnesia and Miralax draw water from the body tissues into the colon, softening the stool and inducing bowel action. Bulking agents like Metamucil , Benefiber, and Citrucel are fiber supplements that absorb liquid in the intestines, forming a bulky, soft stool that prompts normal bowel movements. Lubricant laxatives such as Fleet use oil, such as mineral oil, to keep the stool moist and soft, allowing it to pass through the GI tract more easily. Finally, stool softeners like Colace and Surfak reduce straining by mixing moisture into dry, hard stools.
Can laxatives help in shedding those extra kilos?
The use of laxatives for quick weight loss has become increasingly common. Studies estimate that more than 4% of the population has engaged in laxative abuse. However, the weight loss achieved through laxative use is only temporary.
Various laxatives work by drawing water from the body into the intestines to make stool pass more easily. This method only results in water weight loss through stool excretion.
Studies have shown that laxative use is an ineffective method of weight control, particularly in patients with bulimia nervosa. There is no scientific evidence to support the claim that laxative use can lead to long-term weight loss.
Instead, the use of laxatives can have harmful side effects such as dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and possible dependence.
The transient reduction in weight that individuals may experience through laxative use is actually caused by the loss of water, which is not the same as losing body fat.
Most laxatives work by increasing the water absorbed from the body into the gut or retaining water in the gut near the stool. This added water softens the stool, making it easier to pass, and can lead to diarrhea, which is stool with high water content.
While a person could show lesser weight numbers after consuming laxatives due to the extra water exiting with the stool, this outcome is brief and will not result in long-term weight loss.
Laxatives do not decrease body fat or aid in sustained weight loss. Even high doses of stimulant laxatives, which prompt the movement of stool through the digestive tract, only have a small effect on calorie absorption.
Laxatives are not a solution for weight loss, they are intended to relieve constipation. However, some people misuse them for their perceived weight loss effects. Laxatives work by accelerating the movement of food in the small intestine, where nutrients are absorbed. When nutrients are not absorbed correctly, fewer calories are consumed. However, this does not promote long-term weight loss or a healthy body and mind. The only weight lost is water weight, and any further weight loss will be halted after losing 1 or 2 pounds. Continued laxative use can lead to health problems, and there is no scientific evidence to support their effectiveness for weight loss. Laxative misuse is particularly common in people with eating disorders, but it can damage both physical and mental health.
Side effects of using Laxatives
You should consider thoroughly analyzing all the possible side effects laxative usage could lead to. Here are some notable ones we want you to stay informed about:
It can lead to severe dehydration
Dehydration is a common side effect of using laxatives. This is because certain laxatives draw water into the intestines, causing water loss through the stool. Failing to replenish the lost water can lead to dehydration, which can cause symptoms like fatigue, headaches, dizziness, dry skin, and increased thirst. In severe cases, dehydration can lead to more serious complications. It's important to note that overusing laxatives can exacerbate dehydration. This can lead to a decrease in cell function, metabolic rate, and compromised brain function.
It can lead to depletion of electrolytes
The electrolytes in our body, such as sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, phosphate, and magnesium, are crucial for proper cell function, cell signaling, and other vital processes. When we abuse laxatives, it can lead to an imbalance in electrolyte levels that can affect the renal and cardiovascular systems. If you experience symptoms like muscle fatigue, headache, weakness, or heart palpitations while using laxatives, it's essential to seek medical attention immediately.
These essential electrolytes are dissolved in our bodily fluids, helping our cells and tissues function normally. However, if the balance of electrolytes is disturbed, it can lead to severe side effects, including seizures, confusion, and even coma.
Studies have shown that laxative use can cause the loss of vital electrolytes, leading to an imbalance. A certain amature study which observed 24 patients showed that use of laxative lead to certain significant alterations in the levels of potassium and sodium. Another study involving 2,270 people revealed that laxatives commonly used to prepare for colonoscopies increased the risk of electrolyte disturbances.
Some common symptoms of electrolyte imbalance are heart palpitations, thirst, headaches, fatigue, muscle aches, and weakness. Therefore, it's crucial to be mindful of the electrolyte balance while using laxatives, as it can lead to many adverse side effects such as fatigue, muscle aches, and heart palpitations.
It can lead to a habit of severe dependency
While laxatives are generally considered safe for short-term use, concerns have been raised about the potential for long-term use to lead to dependency, particularly with stimulant laxatives which stimulate intestinal movement.
However, there is limited evidence to support these concerns, and some experts suggest that the likelihood of developing a tolerance or dependency on stimulant laxatives is relatively low.
Further research is needed to fully understand the potential risks of long-term laxative use and the development of dependency.
It can lead to severe bowel issues like severe constipations
There are concerns that frequent use of stimulant laxatives may lead to dependency. Some experts believe that the gut may become reliant on the stimulation provided by these laxatives, causing it to eventually stop functioning on its own.
Frequent use of laxatives could lead the gut lining feel annoyed and irritated, potentially resulting in bloody stools. Stimulant laxatives, which are commonly used for weight loss, are considered harsh and should not be used for extended periods of time. Studies suggest that the bowel can become accustomed to these laxatives, leading to increased constipation and a decreased ability to have natural bowel movements.
To avoid this cycle, it is recommended to only use stimulant laxatives for severe constipation or when other laxatives have not been effective. It is best to speak with a doctor if you think you have developed a dependence on laxatives. Bulk-forming laxatives are generally considered the gentlest on the body and safest for long-term use, but it is important to consult with a doctor if experiencing persistent constipation.
Some other side effects include:
Using laxatives may have dangerous side effects, including dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, dependence, and other serious conditions. Some case studies have linked laxative abuse to rhabdomyolysis, which is the rapid deterioration of muscle tissue, gastrointestinal damage, long-term pancreatic damage, liver damage, and severe kidney failure requiring dialysis. Nonetheless, further research is necessary to understand the potential long-term effects and safety of laxative use
Other healthier methods to consider for losing weight
Consider using healthier weight loss methods and seeking professional help if you are using unhealthy practices such as laxatives, purging, or extreme food restriction, as these may cause long-term damage to your health.
There are numerous safer and more effective ways to lose weight without jeopardizing your health. Here are some straightforward and proven methods to lose weight:
- Consume more fruits and vegetables: They are low in calories but high in fiber, and increasing your intake of fruits and vegetables has been shown to lower body weight.
- Boost physical activity: Aerobic exercise a few times a week can help with weight loss and prevent weight gain.
- Decrease portion sizes: Smaller portions contain fewer calories. One study discovered that simply utilizing smaller plates caused participants to consume less.
- Have a high-protein breakfast: Starting your day with a protein-rich breakfast has been demonstrated to reduce appetite and food intake throughout the day.
- Reduce your consumption of added sugars: Sugar is high in calories, low in nutrients, and contributes to weight gain. Drinking sugar-sweetened beverages has been linked to obesity.
The Final Conclusion
Keep in mind that losing weight quickly is not a sustainable solution. While it may be tempting to try crash diets before a special occasion, it is important to do so safely. If you consume fewer calories than your body requires, your metabolism will eventually slow down, making you appear tired and exhausted on the day of the event.
Instead, opt for a diet plan that you can maintain in the long run. Most very low-calorie diets and extreme diets are not sustainable. To develop healthy eating habits, gradually switch to clean eating using the substitution method. For example, swap high-calorie foods for low-calorie, high-fiber, high-protein, and healthy fat alternatives.
Snack on low-calorie foods such as hummus, baby carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, and nuts.
Regular exercise can keep you both physically and mentally fit.
It's important to note that while laxatives can help with constipation, they are not an effective long-term solution for weight loss. Additionally, the use of laxatives can be dangerous and lead to health issues such as dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
Instead of relying on laxatives, consider making small, sustainable changes to your diet and engaging in regular physical activity. Mindful eating is a great approach to shedding excess weight without resorting to extreme measures. Remember, laxatives should only be used for chronic constipation, not for weight loss, as they do not prevent caloric absorption and can cause other health problems. Take care of your health and avoid using laxatives for weight loss.
Disclaimer: The above is a sponsored post, the views expressed are those of the sponsor/author and do not represent the stand and views of Outlook Editorial.