Laxatives for weight loss: why is it a bad idea?
Misuse of laxatives, for example to lose weight, can be very dangerous. What could the health consequences be? What alternatives are there? We do an evaluation with Nina Cohen-Coby, a registered dietitian.
Microlax, Dulcolax, Forlax... All these words are the same thing: laxatives. Laxatives are generally used to "facilitate the passage and excretion of stool," or to treat occasional constipation. Once the definition is submitted, the VIDAL website announces the color: Prolonged use of some laxatives is 'not recommended'.
Especially when laxatives are taken for an entirely different reason. In fact, it sometimes happens that the use of these drugs is completely diverted in order to lose weight. How do we get to this? What are the health risks? Nina Cohen-Kobe, a registered dietitian in Paris, explains it all.
Laxatives for weight loss: what are the risks?
The specialist insists that “it is a mistake and above all an illusion to think that we will be able to lose weight thanks to laxatives!” Laxatives are actually used to remove “faeces, water and electrolytes such as sodium and especially potassium”. So, what could be the consequences of these losses on the human body?
Taking laxatives to lose weight can be very dangerous. First, because of the risk of becoming dehydrated and missing out on some very important elements: “Potassium leaks can have serious consequences, such as heart rhythm disturbances,” explains Nina Cohen-Kobe. Significant hypokalemia - a low level of potassium in the blood - can 'compromise the vital alarm'.
Depending on the laxatives taken, many problems can arise. For example, the anal sphincters will weaken and no longer "play their role properly," the specialist explains. There may also be irritation in the anus.
At the level of the digestive system, there will be bloating or even pain in the abdomen: in fact, frequent use of laxatives leads to "inflammation of the intestinal mucous membranes". This will therefore have "immediate and immediate" and long-term consequences.
How can you take laxatives to lose weight?
A dietitian tells us that a person who wants to lose weight will not naturally be inclined to take laxatives. According to her, this is rather about young women “who have a dysmorphic problem”. This psychological distress leads them to feel fat: "their bodies just don't fit them at all," adds Nina Cohen-Coppie.
Therefore, taking laxatives to lose weight gives them the impression that they will "clean themselves from the inside" and thus lose weight. "It's symbolic for them," says the specialist. This problem can be found in both people with anorexia and bulimia, and this is a "true eating disorder with an often depressive background," she explains.
Are there natural alternatives that can help you lose weight?
To promote weight loss, Nina Cohen-Kobe tells us that we should above all think about “the development of our microbes”: for this, we should not eat too much sugar, not drink alcohol, and consume adequate fruits, vegetables and fiber. According to her, red meat can harm microbes: so it should not be abused.
With regard to nutrition, the specialist calls out the “Mediterranean diet”: “It is rich in color, it is satisfying, it is not pleasant in taste ... people have a certain pleasure in eating!” The Mediterranean diet includes among other things:
- Vegetables of different colors such as peppers
- Cereals and legumes
- Spices (such as cumin) and herbs (such as coriander)
- Seasonings based on olive oil, garlic and onions
- More fish than meat
In addition to being delicious and varied, the Mediterranean diet allows for "prevention of inflammatory diseases" and "cardiovascular disease". But it doesn't stop there. Nina Cohen-Kobe insists that the diet plan represents "only one tenth" of the focus to help people lose weight in a healthy way. It is therefore important to make 'gradual changes'.
“The relationship between the mind and the body is very important,” the specialist explains. According to her, follow-up may be necessary in order to "work on patients' problems". In particular, it will be necessary to take into account “environmental norms” to understand the notion of “deficiency” that is
often at the root of the desire to eat ... The work is therefore universal, as Nina Cohen-Cuban tells us. Eating disorders can be treated using various methods, ranging from listening to relaxation. If you suffer from one of these disorders or want to lose weight, resorting to laxatives can have serious health consequences. It is best to discuss this with your doctor to determine the most appropriate treatment for your condition.