If you’re looking for a way to lose weight, you’ve probably considered trying laxative teas or supplements. These items purportedly help with digestion and allow the body to eliminate waste products more efficiently. Do they help with weight loss? Let’s take a closer look.
Laxatives For Weight Loss
It’s well established that fiber is vital to a healthy diet. According to recent statistics, only 17% of Americans aged 19-34 meet the national fiber recommendation of 28 grams per day. That’s right—one-seventh of the population doesn’t get enough fiber! In line with this, the laxatives for weight loss market is currently valued at $13.6 billion and is expected to rise at a CAGR of 7.9% between 2020 and 2025.
When ingested, fiber adds bulk to your stomach contents, which stimulates the production of digestive enzymes. Together, these substances break down food into molecules that the body’s cells can use for energy. Essentially, fiber helps your body to better utilize the food that you eat.
While most people think of fiber when it comes to weight loss, it’s important to consider the type of fiber that you’re taking into account. For instance, soluble fiber helps to bulk up your stool, while insoluble fiber doesn’t. When purchasing a product that contains both types of fiber, make sure that it will provide the benefits that you’re looking for.
How Do They Work?
In the same way that food fiber helps to break down large molecules into smaller molecules that the body can more efficiently use for fuel, so too do laxatives. When molecules reach a certain size, they’re no longer useful to the body and are subsequently eliminated as waste. For instance, most people have heard of the common laxative bisacodyl, which is a compound of acetylsalicylic acid and oxycodone. This substance has a molecular weight of 414.59 g/mol and is therefore large enough to be useful to the body.
When bisacodyl is ingested, it makes its way through the digestive system and into the large intestine. Here, food debris and waste products such as cholesterol, triglycerides, and bile acids are stored. Under normal physiologic conditions, these substances are removed from the body via a mechanism called defecation.
However, in rare cases, bisacodyl can cause serious side effects to those who take it. These include:
- Colonic inflammation, leading to abdominal cramps and pain
- Rectal irritation, resulting in anal bleeding and/or prolapse
- Urticaria (hives)
- Phenytoin toxicity, which can be fatal
- Toxicity to the central nervous system, resulting in seizures and/or coma
- Inhibited platelet aggregation, potentially leading to heart attack and/or stroke
Are They Safe?
In general, the risks associated with taking a laxative are minimal. The most common side effect is the generation of loose stools, which may be unpleasant for some and even cause health problems for others. In addition, the overdose or misuse of laxatives can lead to severe gastrointestinal upset, resulting in damage that requires hospitalization. However, as long as you follow the prescribed dosage and usage instructions, the risks associated with taking a laxative are generally minimal.
Many people believe that the risks associated with laxatives are greater than the benefits. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. First off, the risks decrease the longer that you use them. When taking them for the first time, the risks are greater because the body has never encountered the substance before. As a result, the risks are higher. Once you’ve taken them for a while and the body has gotten used to them, the risks become minimal. In fact, when it comes to weight loss, the benefits of laxatives often outweigh the risks.
Should You Try Them?
Although the risks associated with laxatives are generally minimal, it’s still not always easy to tell whether or not they’re safe for you. Some people are sensitive to foods and chemicals that are found in laxatives, while others have experienced severe side effects from the medications themselves. As a result, before you start taking laxatives, you need to ask yourself, “Am I allergic to anything?” and “Have I ever had any serious side effects from prescription medications?” If you can answer “no” to both questions, then it’s generally safe for you to try and see how laxatives affect your body.
If you’re looking for a way to lose weight, you’ve probably considered trying laxatives. These items purportedly help with digestion and allow the body to eliminate waste products more efficiently. Do they help with weight loss? Let’s take a closer look.