One of these medications is Orlistat, a substance discovered from a fungus and that is capable of preventing the acquisition of up to 30% of the ingested fats.
However, like all medicines that affect our physiology, Orlistat has its considerations and consequences. Although it does not have to be dangerous, except in certain specific situations, it is still a drug and should not be used lightly with the sole will to lose weight, without any other consideration.
What is Orlistat?
The commercial version of tetrahydrolipstatin, an enzyme from a fungus called Streptomyces toxytricini, is known by this name. This enzyme is a lipostatin, a substance capable of inhibiting the action of lipase from the liver. This body produces this enzyme to process fats in the diet. The only way to absorb them is to “break them” so that the intestine can transport them.
By blocking the action of these lipases, the fats “come out as they enter”, that is, they are defecated since they cannot be absorbed. This allows you to reduce your lipid intake and, with it, the calories we consume. Orlistat is taken as a pill, at mealtime (or a little earlier), to be able to exert its effect on the liver.
Only part of the lipostatin enters the system, acting on the lipase. It is estimated that only 30% of ingested fats are “ignored” by the digestive system. These, as we said, come out with feces, giving them a fatty consistency, not very firm and unctuous.
Orlistat can be purchased at pharmacies without a prescription. Due to its strong interaction with the liver, it is a recommended medication only in case of obesity and severe overweight problems. It also has effects on other medications, such as fat-soluble antibiotics, and no effects have been described, yet, in the case of pregnancy, so caution is recommended.
How does tetrahydrolipstatin work?
As we said, the liver secretes an enzyme known as lipase. This has several functions related to fats. First, it is responsible for processing phospholipids and triglycerides, which are the natural transports of fats in the body (fats do not travel free and alone). In addition, it is responsible for acting as a ligand, that is, as “helper”, in the formation of cholesterol.
It is the cholesterol molecules that capture these lipids and move them from side to side of the body. Hepatic lipase is related to the regulation of the number of lipids in the body. Orlistat, by inhibiting this enzyme, causes that fats from digestion cannot be “recovered” by intestinal villi.
In this way, the fat continues its journey in the intestine, giving the digested material an enormous amount of oily and inconsistent matter. At the same time, this matter, when not absorbed, does not pass into our fat reserve, so it does not count as calories gained, of course.
What are the consequences of taking Orlistat?
First, we insist, this medication is recommended only in the case of obesity. We should consult with our doctor before acquiring the drug and start doing useless tests. For example, studies show that while weight loss can be lost with the medication, it recovers within a few months of stopping. This is obviously related to diet and adherence. But, in addition to the possible rebound effect, there are other immediate consequences.
The first and most annoying is undoubtedly incontinence. Above all, during the initial weeks, it is recommended that people who use the drug wear dark clothes. This is because the digestive flow becomes very fatty and liquid, and sphincters can barely contain it. It also causes flatulent attacks and other digestive disorders due to accumulated fat.
On the other hand, one of the consequences of the Orlistat may be malabsorption. There are many fat-soluble components, including many vitamins. These are not well absorbed and, in the medium or long term, a nutritional problem can be caused. The same applies to some medications, with which there may be an antagonism (an action contrary to each other) or an adverse interaction. For example, this occurs with some antibiotics, such as cephalosporins. Tetrahydrolipstatin can also cause an adverse reaction in the stomach due to excess fats, which can result in acute gastroenteritis. If you suffer from liver failure or hypovolemia (poor organic circulation, in this case of the liver), it is also not recommended to use it, as it can have drastic consequences.
In short, this product should only be used in certain specific circumstances and under medical supervision. If not, due to its action, we could find an unforeseen problem that ends in a serious health consequence. Finally, remember that there are no magic methods to lose weight. All “fast” tracks end at the same point: the rebound effect. The only (and healthy) way to lose weight is through a genuine change of habits, based on adherence.