Taking Stimulant Laxatives For Weight Loss Is Playing With Fire
Posted Sep 11 2008 6:18pm
One of the most troubling aspects of our society's demand for perfection in terms of weight and beauty is the length to which desperate people will go to try to attain the unreachable. Despondency reaches its ultimate peak when otherwise intelligent and prudent individuals resort to the unthinkable.
When it comes to weight loss at any cost, many will turn to laxatives to give them what they perceive to be an extra edge in this sickening game. If I can lose 30 pounds through diet alone, then surely I can lose 50 with the help of a little Ex-Lax, right? What could it hurt since I'll reach my weight loss goal in record time?
Let me just say this right off the bat--if you are reading this right now and think this is a good way to go about losing weight, then listen to me very carefully. You have an eating disorder that needs immediate medical assistance. See your doctor about it as soon as possible.
Because bulimia has sadly become commonplace in modern culture, I thought it would be educational to look at what laxatives do to your body and why it is a myth that they can help you lose weight better and faster. You might want to print this blog post out if you, a friend, or family member is taking laxatives while dieting.
The perception about laxatives is that they help remove the calories from the foods you eat which in turn will keep your body from storing it as fat. Additionally, laxatives are thought to be a good way to "empty" the stomach when you are full to relieve the discomfort associated with your stomach after a meal.
But the truth of the matter is the calories that are removed from the body through the use of laxatives is statistically negligible and people who use laxatives as a weight loss aid could very well be harming themselves in the process.
Keep in mind, I'm not referring to any bulk-forming fiber supplementation that you may take such as Metamucil, Citrucel and FiberCon while livin' la vida low-carb. These are all indeed an excellent way to properly cleanse your body naturally and safely and I highly recommend it.
Instead, I'm referring to what is known as "stimulant laxatives" like Ex-Lax, Senokot and Correctol. These are BAD NEWS and should NOT be a part of your weight loss strategy. Why? Because they work to artificially stimulate the nerve endings in your colon which is at the end of the digestive tract, all that's left of the food you've consumed by the time it gets there are the most nutrient-void parts of what you ate.
Keep in mind that the colon is where your body absorbs the electrolytes and water you eat and drink. If none of this is present because of the stimulant laxatives you have taken for weight loss, then your body runs into some very real dangers, including:
- Electrolyte disorders like low blood potassium which can paralyze your body, cause an irregular heartbeat, and quite possibly kill you. Your body needs electrolytes in the exact amounts it normally self-regulates so your nerves, muscles, and heart will work correctly.
- Dehydration occurs when stimulant laxatives rob your body of necessary liquid before it reaches the colon. This can lead to muscle cramps, tremors, fainting spells, and, again, even death.
- Damage to nerve endings in the colon is also a very real concern because these nerve endings are what the body relies on to excrete waste from the body. If the stimulant laxatives render these nerve endings useless, then the result could be a total loss of control over bowel movements and even leaking of the rectum. Taking extra laxatives to try to resolve this problem could permanently damage nerve endings.
- Water weight loss that results from the use of a stimulant laxative is only temporary because the amount of weight reduced on the scale will go back up again once the body is properly rehydrated again. Failure to drink ample fluids can cause the body to faint and may lead to death.
- As previously stated, calories are not burned or removed when you use stimulant laxatives because most of the calories in the food you have consumed are absorbed in the small intestines before it reaches the colon. Studies from Anorexia Nervosa and Related Eating Disorders, Inc. have shown this to be true even when the caloric intake is much higher. The body absorbs most of the calories despite the use of the laxative.
Finally, be sure if you use an herbal tea supplement on your low-carb lifestyle that you look out for ones that contain any of the following ingredients: senna, aloe, buckhorn, rhubarb root, cascara, or castor oil. If used in excess, then even this plant-based laxative can cause some pretty serious issues like diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach cramps, and quite possibly lead your colon to stop working altogether. Yikes!
If you are currently taking stimulant laxatives to help your weight loss efforts, then stop doing that and CALL YOUR DOCTOR ASAP! He or she will be happy to help you beat this before it destroys your health!
Instead of taking laxatives, try these HEALTHY weight loss aides: