For many people, the effort to lose weight is a never ending battle. They try many things including low fat diets, exercise, weight loss pills, and many more, but there are some people try is losing weight with laxatives. The concern here is whether this method of weight loss is safe or not. Can it work? Yes. Is it safe? Generally, it’s not considered to be a safe weight loss method because laxatives are not designed for weight control. Let’s look at how laxatives work and consider the benefits and hazards of losing weight with laxatives.How Laxatives Work
There’s one thought that laxatives force the food through the digestive system before the calories are absorbed. In reality, laxatives work because they cause fluids (mainly water) to be drawn into the large intestine which bulks up the stool and stimulates the muscles of this organ to contract and get rid of the contents. When the nutrients of the food reaches the large intestines, the majority of the calories and nutrients have already been absorbed by the small intestine. In most cases, the weight loss is really little more than fluid loss and it is temporary.Laxatives and Weight Loss
Since many people have found laxatives to be an effective way of losing weight – providing it is for a very short period of time – it can work. Most people who have found this method effective is to take the laxative before meals, and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day because laxatives need the fluid in order to effectively release the bowels. Just be sure to be near a rest room after the meal because the laxative appears to flush the food through the digestive system rapidly, and it’s unpredictable in how fast that can be. The primary concern when using laxatives is not to over-use them and refrain from using them for numerous days in a row. They are effective for a short term weight loss.The Hazards of Losing Weight with Laxatives
Because laxatives were never intended to be used as a weight control method, some people who have used laxatives extensively for this purpose have suffered serious, and in some cases irreversible damage to their health. When laxatives are used frequently, with the intention of losing weight, it can lead to some of the following health issues:
- Dehydration – This is a very dangerous lack of water in the body. It can cause fainting, blurred vision, vomiting, sweating, diarrhea, and prolonged dehydration can lead to kidney failure and even death.
- Imbalance or deficit of Electrolytes – When the body is deficient, or there is an imbalance, of electrolytes (these are the minerals the body requires including sodium, potassium, and calcium) the nerves and muscles are impacted. This can lead to cascading health problems, particularly a variety of vital organs, but most importantly, the heart is greatly affected.
- Dependence on Laxatives – Prolonged use can cause the colon to become dependent on larger and more frequent doses of laxatives in order to produce bowel movements, and this is a very serious condition when the colon can no longer function on its own and can lead to diseases including Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Crohn’s disease.
In addition to the problems that prolonged use of laxatives cause, there are also some temporary problems that occur when the frequent use of laxatives cease, including:
- Constipation – This condition occurs when the colon has a problem emptying the bowel due to hardened feces. It can lead to fecal impaction, which can become a bowel obstruction, and that can actually be life threatening.
- Fluid retention – This leads to weight gain because the fluid has built up in the large intestines and the inability of releasing the fluids which can also be life threatening.
- Bloating – This is a distended or an abnormal swelling in the abdominal area, which can be quite painful due to the cramps and sudden pain. In many cases, this bloating can be mistaken for a heart attack, appendicitis, or even a gallbladder attack.
This leads to another consideration: people with eating disorders use laxatives because and become dependent on them to ensure the food doesn’t stay in their bodies causing them to gain more weight. The laxatives do not cause the eating disorders, but they can certainly lead to cascading problems for people with eating disorders.Laxatives and Weight Loss
Certainly laxatives can be used for short term weight loss, but doctors do not recommend it for long term because of the severe side effects that prolonged use of laxatives can cause. If you have decided to use laxatives for weight loss, it’s recommended to use a very gentle, mild laxative, and only use it for only a few days.