Saturday, March 14, 2015

Plexus Slim Drink Ingredients: what they do, and what the research says


Plexus Slim, the "pink drink" is hitting everyone's social media news feed and radar right now, and everyone's wondering if it really works. My bottom line guess is that yes, it will probably work, simply because of its effects on blood sugar. I also think that you could probably get a much cheaper version of it by having your Doctor prescribe Metformin for you if you are looking to lose weight or combat blood sugar by taking a supplement. Some people may be attracted to Plexus because it's often toted as being an "all natural supplement that is a tool which just gives you things that your body needs" (paraphrase from what I've heard multiple distributors say; the Plexus website refers to Plexus Slim as "the most-natural way to lose weight"...which means???). I thought that sounded pretty good, too, so I spent some time looking into each ingredient as listed on their website at: http://www.plexusworldwide.com/products/plexus-slim. While I still haven't had time to gather research to point you to on a few of the non proprietary ingredients, you can see what information I have gotten together below. As for me, I have decided to not use this product. Feel free to post other research you've found, especially if you've had time to look through peer reviewed journals!


Plexus Slim "Pink Drink" Ingredients

Green Coffee/Chlorogenic Acid:
What it is: a phenolic compound formed by the esterification of cinnamic acids. Green coffee is a major source of CGA in nature.

What it does: studies demonstrate lowering blood pressure, inhibiting fat accumulation and body weight, modulation of glucose metabolism, and improvement in vasoreactivity. It’s also shown that CGA from Green Coffee Extract is highly bioavailable to humans.

Negatives: caffeine can have negative effects, though Plexus says there’s only 2% caffeine involved. I also did find a study that claims no difference in body mass index between the control and experimental groups using this.

Bottom Line: this looks really good, but considering what it does and that it hasn’t been studied for breastfeeding or pregnant mothers, I think it ought to be avoided while pregnant or nursing.



Garcinia Cambogia        
What it is: a tropical fruit; the active ingredient is in the skin of the fruit Hydrooxycitric Acid (HCA)

What it does: possibly increases your level of satiety (satisfaction you receive from food) thus making it easier to eat less (it’s been suggested that this is linked to an increase in the precursor to serotonin, and studies show elevated serotonin levels in subjects taking HCA, but research is not clear on this link yet)

Problems: it is best absorbed when the hydroxycitrate in it is bound to both calcium and potassium, and human studies show inconsistent and weak (or no) correlations between Garcinia Cambogia and weight loss.



Alpha Lipoic Acid
What it is: a synthetic antioxidant

What it does: appears to help increase insulin sensitivity, works with other antioxidants to help neutralize free radicals and reduce cellular damage


 Polydextrose:
What it is: Polydextrose is a water-soluble dietary fiber made from corn. Made by mixing glucose and sorbitol and then adding citric acid, it is a very safe dietary fiber that is not broken down by human digestive enzymes.

Safety: FDA says it’s safe but can cause diarrhea, flatulence, and other similar problems

Bottom Line: this is a synthetic fiber. It revs up your GI tract, but at a fraction of the level of wheat bran, which is a natural fiber. While we know that dietary (naturally occurring) fibers are linked to lower risks of heart disease, we have no evidence that polydextrose does this, or that it has any health benefits. In fact, we just really don’t understand its effects on humans, period.

Positives: has fewer calories than sugar, has some prebiotic like effect (alters gut flora)

Why it’s usually added: adds a sweeter taste, bulks up the volume of the food, and manufacturers can claim on their food labels that the products have dietary fiber value.

Alternatives: real fiber, prebiotics

Sources:

Citric Acid:
What it is: an acid found in citrus fruits

What it does: gives a sour (acidic) taste to foods and is a natural preservative

Conclusion: this is approved by the FDA, and I found no controversial evidence about it that was backed up by research


Beetroot Extract:
What it is: extract from the beetroot. :-p

What it does: it’s actually linked to improved blood flow, stamina, lower blood pressure, as a treatment for fever, constipation, wounds, skin problems, and as an aphrodisiac. It also contains potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamins A, B6, and C, folic acid, carbohydrates, protein, antioxidants, and soluble fiber. I could go on to tell you the other benefits I found, including anti-cancer properties, detoxification support, evidence against dementia, and so on, but it would really take all day. Some of these claims have been proved in trials, whereas other claims haven’t been looked at yet and so can’t be “proved”.

Safety: The only thing really known about safety is that, while not contraindicated, “excessive consumption is not advised in patients with hemochromatosis or Wilson disease” (drugs.com).

Bottom Line: what a great health ingredient! It’s just too bad they say it’s for “color” of the Pink Drink, which leads me to think that the amount included is so minuscule, you won’t be gaining any benefits. We think you should throw out the rest of the ingredients and serve the Beetroot Pink Drink, Plexus!


Stevia Leaf Extract: need to research this still (feel free to do it for me and leave your links below)

Luo Han Guo Extract:
What it is: a Chinese fruit.

What it does: It’s generally used as a no-caloric sweetener. In China, it’s considered a “longevity aid” and to balance chi (heat life force) build up in the body. It can also be used for lung congestion, coughs, respiratory ailments, and constipation.

Everything else: unknown. This particular fruit hasn’t been studied.


Chromium:
What it is: a trace mineral that humans need in trace amounts.

What it does: studies show that it lowers blood sugar levels in the body. However, there is not enough evidence showing that it can benefit diabetes or similar diseases, and the studies done about chromium and weight loss don’t show that it helps people lose weight.

Positives: may help lower blood sugar, may help lower cholesterol, may help with depression and PCOS due to its effects on insulin.

Negatives: no safety risks, but it can interact with a variety of medications including antacids and some pain relievers. It’s also still under study and debate, and levels in drinking water have limits. There are also two types of chromium (-3 and -6), with -3 thought to be the safer one. In water and the human body, these types can change back and forth. It is known that people can develop contact dermatitis after years of exposure to water with high chromium levels.

Conclusion: there’s not enough evidence to say that this will help anyone lose weight. The good news is that Plexus Slim contains such a small amount of chromium that even if we discover a health risk at some point, there probably isn’t enough of it in the drink to become a problem to a humans. By the same token, there probably isn’t enough of this in Plexus Slim to give any benefits, either.

Alternatives: get your chromium from the many vegetables, fruits, meats, grains, and yeast that contain it.

Sources:


Guar Gum: 

What it is: a component of the guar or cluster bean plant--mainly, glalactomannam gum, which comprises 20-40% of the guar seed.

What it does: when mixed with water, it forms a thick gel, and expands up to 20 times its original size. It's used for processed foods, to stabilize, thicken, and improve texture. It is also sometimes added to foods to increase the fiber content. 


Positives: Has a laxative effect since it bulks up the stool with a gel to pass through the colon. It can also prevent blood sugar spikes, and helps reduce cholesterol because it's a soluble fiber.

Negatives: it is known to cause choking and must NEVER be taken alone as a weight loss supplement (guar gum weight loss pills were banned in the US in 1992). The amount in food is considered to be safe for the general consumer. Basically, don't let your kids or pets get a hold of the powdered Plexus Slim bag, and don't try to eat it dry. In large doses, it's known to block the absorption of minerals and medications, and if consumed with a meal, "significantly reduces the absorption of antioxidant carotenoids." 

Conclusion: It's fine in the small amount that is here. You're probably eating guar gum more than you realize, anyway, because it's in a lot of processed foods. As long as it's mixed with the appropriate amount of water, you should be golden.

Alternatives: don't prepackage your food. Buy your Pink Drink ingredients yourself, mix them up or take them separately, and you won't need the guar gum to begin with.

Sources:
http://www.livestrong.com/article/314356-the-harmful-side-effects-of-guar-gum/
http://www.livescience.com/36580-guar-gum-weight-loss-cost.html



Silicon Dioxide: 

What it is: a mineral

What it does: keeps the product from sticking to itself and acts to keep processed foods "fresh". It is needed by the body in trace amounts and can be found in all sorts of fruits, vegetables, seeds, and even water. 

Positives & Negatives: it doesn't appear to cause any problems for people, but hasn't been studied for breastfeeding or pregnant women, so is recommended to be avoided for them. It is thought to even be beneficial for hair, skin, nails, and the FDA limits it to 2% of a product's total weight. It is filtered by the kidneys, so could be related to problems on that end of things.

Conclusion: meh. Again, there's such a small amount, that it should be fine. Who knows, maybe the extra boost will even give you nicer hair.

Alternatives: don't prepackage your food. Eat your normal fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and mineral water (i.e. not distilled), and you're already getting the amount of this mineral that you need.

Sources:
http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-1096-silicon.aspx?activeingredientid=1096&activeingredientname=silicon


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incredibly interesting comments!