Using any type of weight-loss drug for a prolonged period could lead to a myriad of problems and issues. Abuse of supplements can create minor problems like irritability all the way up to severe problems resulting in death.
Even still, many people choose to ignore warning labels and use whatever they can to lose weight. And some individuals even go so far as to use laxatives in order to lose weight.
Laxatives and other products geared at softening stools, relieving constipation and cleansing the colon are good products for what they do, but they should not be overused and should never be used to help lose weight.
People taking laxatives to lose weight assume mistakenly that the digestive system is somehow going to process body fat and that evacuating substances from inside the body will cause weight loss. Others use laxatives in order to avoid gaining weight, assuming that whatever they eat will be immediately passed, almost like bulimia.
Not only do laxatives not work for losing weight, but they can be very dangerous to use in this fashion or to overuse in general. Here are 10 side effects of laxative usage.
10 Reasons to Avoid Misusing Commercial Laxatives
1: Weight Gain
Because some assume that all new foods will be immediately passed through via laxative use, they binge eat and end up gaining significantly more weight.
2: Poor Nutrition
Going along with the binge eating, people can up their cholesterol levels, blood pressure and blood sugar by using laxatives in this fashion; or, on the other end of the spectrum, they can lose too many vital nutrients the body needs.
The overuse of laxatives has been known to cause bloating (water retention) in people, which is both uncomfortable and very unflattering.
4: Excessive Cramping
Using laxatives in this fashion can cause excessive cramping of the intestines, a very, very painful phenomenon.
5: Bacteria Loss
Your digestive tract contains crucial bacteria which help to break down and pass food. Excessive use of laxatives causes you to lose these bacteria and will make it harder to break down and pass food.
6: Chemical Imbalance
Misuse of laxatives can cause the body to lose too many electrolytes, resulting in imbalance.
7: Cardiac Arrhythmia
Cardiac arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat/palpitations, can occur from using too many laxative products.
8: Heart Attack
In some cases, individuals overusing laxatives have experienced heart attack.
Lack of vital nutrients in the body can cause a general “low” feeling – low energy, fatigue and a disruption of sleep patterns.
10: Renal Complications
In some cases, the overuse of laxatives can cause kidney complications including kidney failure.
Not only are these ten side effects very scary and things you would want to avoid at all costs, but there have been cases of laxative abusers suffering from instant and inexplicable death. It is rare but it is not out of the question.
Proper dieting takes a careful balance of nutrition and exercise. It also takes a commitment on your part to do what is necessary to change your lifestyle and lose the pounds. This does not include attempting to cheat the process by taking dangerous pills; much less substances that were not even meant to help you lose weight in the first place.
Taking laxatives to lose weight is stupid and dangerous. In fact, a proper diet should be enough to exclude the need for laxatives altogether.
Eating enough fiber and staying properly hydrated is all you need in order to stay regular. And if you do need an assist in that department, make sure you stop the laxative use immediately after you are relieved and never, ever use laxatives in an attempt to lose weight.
7 Foods that Make the Best Natural Laxatives
Fruits, veggies, seeds, probiotic-filled foods and more act as effective natural stool softeners, so before you reach for the over-the-counter laxatives, add these seven foods to your diet:
1. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera is one of the oldest and well-researched natural laxatives there is. Sometimes called aloe “latex,” this substance comes packed with enzymes, vitamins, minerals and electrolytes that help heal the gut. For example, anthraquinones are a type of compound present in aloe that act like a laxative by increasing intestinal water content, stimulating mucus secretion and increasing intestinal peristalsis naturally (contractions that break down food).
Aloe vera latex also has anti-inflammatory components that reduce swelling and and improve function of the digestive organs. Some of the other benefits of aloe vera are its ability to help normalize acid/alkaline and pH balance, lessen yeast formation and encourage the growth of good digestive bacteria.
2. Chia Seeds
One of the benefits of chia seeds is its ability to work as a natural laxative. Chia seeds combined with liquid form a gelatinous substance that easily moves through your intestines. As a great way to increase the fiber in your diet, chia seeds swell and expand in the digestive tract, absorbing water. They’re best for constipation when you also increase your fluid intake, helping them move through the gut easily.
Flaxseeds are an excellent source of fiber, which adds bulk to your stool and helps it pass through your intestines. As an added bonus, flaxseeds work to treat both constipation and diarrhea!
They’re practically tasteless, and one of the benefits of flaxseeds is it’s easy to use in recipes you already make, like oats, baked goods and smoothies. Just remember that whenever you eat a lot of fiber, you want to also make sure to drink plenty of water too — since a high amount of fiber without enough hydrating liquids can actually result in even more bathroom troubles! Drinking enough water in general along with a high-fiber diet makes it less likely you’ll experience uncomfortable hard stools, bloating, gas, pains and further constipation.
4. Leafy Green Veggies
Not only a great source of fiber, leafy greens also provide plenty of magnesium. Magnesium deficiency is one of the most common deficiencies in adults, so eating more comes with many benefits, including better digestive health. Magnesium is an electrolyte that has the natural ability to safely soften stool and help draw in water from your gut.
Without enough magnesium, it’s hard for stool to easily move through your system, especially since magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer, which can help stop cramping in the abdomen. If you notice that increasing magnesium-rich foods results in your stools becoming too loose and watery, you can adjust your intake until its comfortable and back to normal.
5. Probiotic Foods
Probiotics are “good bacteria” in your gut that are able to balance various types of “bad bacteria.” They help create a healthy environment in your gut “micoflora” and can help keep you free of digestive problems, including constipation or diarrhea.
Probiotic foods include things like kefir, kombucha, sauerkraut, kimchi and probiotic yogurt. Just make sure that when buying dairy products, you always choose organic products, as they are easier on digestion, such as goat milk products, organic kefir, raw dairy products or dairy that doesn’t contain A1 casein. It’s possible that low-quality pasteurized/homogenized dairy, or too much dairy in general (especially if someone has symptoms of lactose intolerance), can cause inflammation and contribute to digestive dysfunction.
6. High-Fiber Fruit (Berries, Figs, Apples, Prunes, Pears)
Fruit provides high levels of fiber and water in addition antioxidants, which can help to reduce inflammation throughout the digestive system. While fresh fruit such as berries, melon and apples are more hydrating and filling, dried fruit like figs, prunes or dates are also a good source of dietary fiber when in a pinch, especially when you consume several at once.
Fruits that contain pectin fiber (apples or pears) are especially good choices, since pectin stimulates your bowels. Apple cider vinegar is also an excellent option for naturally treating constipation! For most people, fruit helps relieve constipation while also making you feel comfortably full, but again it comes down to individual reactions to various kinds.
7. Coconut Water
Coconut water is good for you for many reasons — not only does it taste great as an alternative to plain old water or sugary drinks, but it also helps with maintaining healthy electrolyte levels, preventing dehydration and clearing out your urinary tract. For centuries, coconut water has been used for a natural hydration boost due to its high electrolyte content, especially potassium (which it provides 12 percent of your daily value of in every one-cup serving). In fact, coconut water can be so healing for constipation that some people find drinking too much loosens stools to an uncomfortable level, so start slow.