Losing weight can be a struggle for many people in spite of their continued efforts to drop a few pounds through a healthful diet of fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fibre, lean protein, healthy fats, plenty of water, and a regular exercise program.
In addition, the media and advertisements inundate us with the latest and greatest natural supplements and energy boosts that provide fast, effective, and safe weight loss. Many of these supplements are not regulated properly, may contain contaminants or impurities, and they may result in numerous health problems.
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The use of laxatives as a quick method to lose weight, as an immediate fix or a way to cleanse and purge the body is increasing especially in high school students, athletes, and for those suffering from eating disorders.
Laxatives, commonly available as a drink, tablets, pills, powders, and syrups pull water from the body into the large intestine (osmotic), increase bulk, or stimulate the nerves in the colon to contract and facilitate removing the contents of the bowel. Some laxatives work within a few minutes while others take up to a day or two for full efficacy.
In the United States more than $700 million is spent on laxatives alone every year. There are some medical and neurological conditions that may warrant the use of laxatives for chronic constipation such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, spinal cord injury, and dementia.
However, using or abusing them for weight loss is not a permanent solution but a temporary loss of water that can lead to a number of other critical health dangers.
Potential Health Dangers Associated with Laxatives
– Can be habit-forming and lead to dependency in order to have a bowel movement.
– Can impair proper bowel function and even cause a permanent problem with elimination
– Can interfere with absorption of nutrients, proper digestion, and change gut flora (microbes, microflora, microbiota, bacteria)
– Can cause stomach cramps, flatulence, bloating, nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, rectal bleeding and fissures
– Can reduce the body’s ability to maintain proper immunity to disease, produce antibodies, and synthesize vitamins
– Can cause damage to tooth enamel and salivary glands from frequent vomiting
– Can lead to dehydration and cause tremors, weakness, fainting, and kidney damage.
– Can damage the stomach, the liver, irritate the lining of the bowel, cause infections, irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, tumors, and cancer.
– Can disrupt the electrolyte and mineral balance throughout the body including calcium, sodium, potassium, magnesium, and -phosphorous causing muscle fatigue, nerve damage, heart problems, irregular heartbeat, changes in mental health, mood swings, depression, and death