Have you ever needed to take a laxative? You might be surprised how many people have needed to use laxatives at least once in their lives.
Laxatives have been around forever, and they come in a variety of forms, but have you heard about using laxatives for weight loss? If you have been struggling to lose weight you might have considered using laxatives as a possible solution, but do they work for weight loss?
In this article, let’s talk about how laxatives function, what constipation is, whether you can use laxatives for weight loss, and healthier ways to lose weight.
What Do Laxatives Do?
A laxative is a type of medication that is designed to help one pass a bowel movement. There is no exact number of bowel movements one is supposed to have within a certain time frame as this will vary from person to person.
Some individuals have as many as three bowel movements a day, but it is also not uncommon for one to have around two or three bowel movements a week.
What matters most when it comes to waste excretion is paying attention to significant changes in your normal routine such as hard or difficult-to-pass stool. This is where laxatives may come in handy.
They come in many different forms and can be purchased over the counter. In some cases, they may be prescribed by a doctor to those who are having serious digestive issues including constipation.
The different forms available include:
- Oral Tablets or Capsules
- Oral Liquid
- Rectal Enema
Laxatives work in different ways depending on what type you get and what is causing constipation. Some laxatives work by pulling water into the colon to help the stool pass easier. Others work by initiating a contraction of the intestinal muscles thereby encouraging a bowel movement.
What is Constipation?
This is a condition in which a person experiences difficulty evacuating waste from one’s bowels. It is typically associated with hardened stool making it difficult or painful to complete a bowel movement. Constipation can also lead to other uncomfortable side effects such as cramping, back pain, and severe bloating.
There are two different types of constipation which are referred to as primary constipation and secondary constipation. Primary constipation denotes slow intestinal movement which is usually caused by a lack of dietary fiber or dehydration from not consuming enough fluids.
Secondary constipation is commonly seen in those with metabolic or neurological diseases such as diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis among many others.
Additionally, with certain diseases comes certain medications which can also cause constipation as an unfortunate side effect. A few of these include iron supplements, antidepressants, opioids, antacids, and antipsychotics.
Can You Use Laxatives for Weight Loss?
So, what about if you’re trying to lose weight? Is it safe to take laxatives for weight loss? The short answer is no. In fact, taking laxatives for this reason not only comes with a high risk of adverse side effects but it is considered laxative abuse as this is not the medication’s intended use.
It is a common misconception that laxatives can help you lose weight, and it is important to understand that while you may initially notice the number on the scale go down when taking laxatives, this is only due to water loss.
It is certainly not a long-term solution for true weight loss and laxative misuse may even produce severe side effects.
Laxatives have harmful side effects just like any other medication on the market. It’s important to understand the risks associated with laxative abuse and the possible side effects you might experience.
These adverse effects include:
- Abdominal Cramps
- Severe Bloating
- Extreme Dehydration
- Dark or Discolored Urine
These side effects can vary from person to person, but the longer the laxative abuse goes on, the more severe the side effects can become. Some side effects, such as diarrhea, can even become life-threatening as it may lead to extreme dehydration which has landed more than a few in the hospital.
If you wish to lose weight, try avoiding sketchy diet trends with little to no research or evidence that they are effective for long-term weight loss. One of the major reasons so many people are unable to lose weight or lose it for a short time and then gain it back often referred to as yo-yo dieting or weight-cycling is because they follow popular diet trends being promoted on social media that don’t work as a sustainable option.
Instead, try incorporating these three key aspects into your lifestyle:
- Nutritious Foods
- Lower Stress Levels
When it comes to your diet, it is important to have well-balanced meals to ensure that you are getting the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals for the optimum function of vital bodily processes. If you are not interested in counting calories or tracking your meals, then try making your plate as colorful as possible to ensure a good variety of nutrients.
Not everyone has a lot of time to spend in the gym. Especially those who work long hours or have children and are unable to find child care. The good news is that you don’t need to spend hours in the gym in order to lose weight and keep it off.
Even something as simple as walking for at least 15 minutes a day can help with this and if you are not able to go outside to walk around the block, try using a treadmill to get your steps in.
There are many affordable options these days and there are even under-desk treadmills that you can use if you work on a computer all day.
Another aspect of health that many people underestimate is just how much stress can affect the body. Our mental health has a direct impact on our physical health, and it can even hinder our weight loss goals and lead to the deterioration of vital body functions resulting in serious illness and disease.
There are many ways to decrease stress levels such as meditation, spending time in nature, and even picking up hobbies that bring you joy. Find ways to lower your stress and the weight loss will come.
In Summary, laxatives should only be taken if you are experiencing constipation as this is what they are intended for. Misuse of laxatives may come with extreme side effects if not used appropriately and they are certainly not a weight loss supplement nor should they be treated as such.
If you wish to lose weight long-term stick to a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and find ways to lower your stress levels.