How Doctors Are Planning on Blowing Balloons in Your Stomach to Help You Lose Weight
Doctors are considering prescribing a medical device that involves inflating a balloon in your stomach to make you eat less. Is it really safe? Did you know there are natural alternatives that do the same trick?
New Inflatable Weight Loss Device Offers Non-Surgical Solution
A new inflatable device may offer a non-surgical option for weight loss by leaving less room for food in your stomach. This makes you feel fuller, faster, helping you lose weight because you're eating less calories. That's according to a new study into the device's efficacy.
According to Obalon, a company based in California, the inflatable “balloon” is placed inside a capsule, which you swallow. A thin tube connected to the balloon is used to blow it up once it's inside your stomach. The tube is then removed, leaving the balloon in your stomach, which now has less space for food. They say multiple balloons can be used simultaneously.
As of June 2016, The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn't approved this device, but it's currently approved for use in Europe.
A similar device, an intragastric balloon called the ReShape Integrated Dual Balloon System, was approved by the FDA in 2015. The procedure to place the ReShape balloon device, which is filled with saline instead of gas, reportedly ranges from $7,000 to $9,000. Health insurances don't currently offer coverage for this procedure.
How Safe are Weight Loss Drugs and Medications?
Many individuals who are seeking to lose weight are rather hesitant to try new inventions and devices and for good reason. Numerous drugs that initially appeared safe and even received FDA approval were later found to be dangerous and even deadly.
“Fen-Phen” is a prime example of a two-drug medication that was approved by the FDA, but later found to be dangerous. Phentermine was approved by the FDA in 1959, while fenfluramine was approved over a decade later in 1973. The cocktail was approved for use in treating obesity.
A similar appetite suppressant medication called dexfenfluramine (sold under the brand name Redux) was approved in 1996, also for the treatment of obesity through appetite suppression. But research and user reports revealed a link between heart valve disease and dexfenfluramine and Fen-Phen. The FDA cited a study of 291 patients who had no evidence of heart disease before taking these drugs, but approximately 30 percent presented with “abnormal valve findings, primarily aortic regurgitation” after they took Fen-Phen or dexfenfluramine.
The drugs were subsequently pulled off the market. But this wasn't an isolated incident. According to the FDA's website, the FDA-approved weight loss medication Meridia was pulled off the market in October 2010 once it was discovered that the drug contained sibutramine, which has been found to cause strokes and heart ailments.
The FDA has also issued warnings about numerous “tainted” weight loss products, containing dangerous ingredients such as triamterene (a potent diuretic) and fluoxetine (an active ingredient in antidepressant drugs like Prozac).
Natural Weight Loss Remedies
Many medications aren't found to be dangerous until they've been been in use for a number of years or even decades. In some cases, health problems take many years to develop – are weight loss pharmaceuticals really safe in the long run? Fortunately there are natural remedies that can curb your appetite without exploding balloons in your stomach. Some of these have been used for many generations without any apparent dangers.
Here's a few you can easily mix into your weight loss diet:
• Apples are high in fiber, which is non-digestible, so it's carb-free and takes up space in your stomach just like the inflatable balloon, and makes you feel fuller while eating less. They also contain pectin, which is used to give jams and jellies their gel-like consistency. Pectin is also indigestible and expands and takes up room in your stomach. UCLA researchers found that pectin also keeps your stomach filled longer by slowing down movement of food by 200 percent. The slower digestive rate also gives you more consistent blood sugar levels.
• Dark Leafy Greens – Kale, spinach, collard greens and other dark, leafy greens aren't just nutrient-rich and fiber-rich; they're also very effective at speeding up your metabolism due to their high calcium content. Like apples, their fiber keeps your stomach full with less food.
• Green Tea – Green tea has many health benefits, including promoting weight loss naturally. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, green tea contains epigallo-catechin gallate (EGCG), which is an antioxidant that speeds the rate at which your nervous system and brain operates. This not only burns calories at a faster rate, but also boosts your thinking power!
• Oats – Oats are fiber-rich complex carbohydrates, which are very effective in helping you maintain a stable metabolic rate and insulin levels. Oats can help you avoid insulin spikes after a meal, which is key because those insulin spikes spur fat storage. If your body stores less fat, you'll avoid weight gain. Their fiber also keeps you full longer without artificial balloons.
The FDA hasn't approved this stomach-cramping blow up balloon. But, if you want safer, natural ways to fill your stomach without adding carbs to your meal, eat an apple or your veggies instead!