When it comes talking about taking laxatives for weight loss, its certainly a sticky subject that can be viewed from different perspectives by many different individuals. When it comes down to it, laxatives were designed to help flush the body of toxins, or to relieve an occasional bout of constipation. However, many women are abusing them in order to lose weight quickly. Is there something to this? Or is it just another dangerous fad?
Experts agree that using laxatives to stimulate weight loss is not only a dangerous practice, it is also based on an uneducated decision. Laxative abuse carries long-term side effects such as irreversible damage to the GI tract. Long-term laxative users may also develop dependence, meaning they will not be able to use the bathroom without them.
There are two major types of laxatives- bulk laxatives and stimulants. Bulk laxatives cause the body to draw water into the intestines, providing bulk to the stool make it easier to pass. These are fairly gentle to the system and come in the form of fiber supplements or drinks. Stimulant laxatives are extremely harsh and produce results by causing the intestines to forcefully contract. Over long periods, this causes irreversible damage to the intestinal lining. These stimulant laxatives are the most used for weight control.
Laxatives For Weight Loss NOT Fat Loss
Individuals who utilize laxatives for the purpose of losing weight do experience changes on the scale. However, these reduced numbers are not a result of actual body fat reduction. This weight loss is due to a decrease in bodily fluids, and will return when the laxative use is stopped. This dangerous practice can lead to dehydration.
Laxatives have no effect on calorie absorption
It is a common belief that because those who take laxatives on a daily basis frequently visit the bathroom, food is moved through their system more quickly, therefore reducing calorie intake. According to the Centre for Clinical Interventions, laxatives do not affect calorie absorption and therefore do not lead to true fat loss. This is because the body begins to absorb calories while the food is still in the upper GI tract, and laxatives are designed to stimulate the lower bowels.
Common laxative side effects
Just like any other medication, laxatives carry a list of side effects that can vary in severity. The known short-term side effects of laxative use are diarrhea, gas, nausea and bloating. When taking laxatives as prescribed on the package, these side effects are usually rare. However, taking them in excessive amounts can cause extreme bloating, stomach cramps and possibly vomiting.
Severe laxative side effects
Long-term laxative use can lead to a disruption of normal bowel function. Not only will long-term use lead to all of the effects listed above, it can also cause the appearance of blood or mucus in the stool or even loss of intestinal muscle tone. Although many of these effects can be reversed after the laxative use has stopped, they may become permanent.
The main severe side effect that is of great concern is diarrhea. The body contains electrolytes that helps regulate nerve impulses. Constant diarrhea can cause a severe imbalance in these electrolytes that can lead to irregular heartbeat, seizures and muscle weakness. In extreme cases, this can lead to death.
Healing From Laxative Addiction
It is best to speak with your physician if you have abused laxatives in order to control your weight. You may have already caused significant damage to your body. Once you stop taking laxatives, you may experience feelings of fullness or even bloating. This is normal. The following tips will help you to break your laxative-taking habit, naturally encourage bowel movements and help you retain your overall health.
- Eat plenty of high-fiber foods. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables eaten with the skin intact. Try to avoid bran, as this can cause uncomfortable bloating and gas.
- Drink a cup of warm water with a bit of lemon juice added in the morning, and go for a 30-minute walk. The movement along with the warm liquid will help to naturally stimulate intestinal contractions, producing a bowel movement.
- Make sure you drink plenty of water. It is recommended that an individual should consume half of his or her body weight in ounces of water per day. This means that a 200-pound man should consume 100 ounces of water per day.
Weight loss shortcuts rarely work, and even if they do, you will gain back any lost weight and then some. The key to true and lasting weight loss is to eat healthy foods, exercise 30 to 45 minutes per day, and drink plenty of water.