Every so often, a new product hits the market and everyone goes crazy. Often, these are MLM (multi-level marketing) products (like essential oils), so it seems like everyone you know is selling them. The big thing right now is Plexus, and you may be wondering: is Plexus safe?
Below, contributor Jaclyn will tell you the truth about Plexus Slim so you can decide if it’s right for you.
What is Plexus Slim?
Plexus Slim (aka the “pink drink”) is a dietary supplement designed to aid in weight loss.
You can buy it online or directly from multi-level marketing sellers. It costs $84.95 for a one month supply (30 packets).
The Truth: Is Plexus Safe?
Plexus Slim ingredients
In the order they’re shown on the Plexus Slim label:
- Chromium- a naturally occurring mineral, chromium helps with normal bodily functions, like digestion. However, the form of chromium found in Plexus Slim is chromium polynicotinate. Chromium polynicotinate is created by combining chromium with niacin for better chromium absorption. Plexus Slim contains 167% of the RDA of chromium, which is more than most people will get from eating foods with naturally occurring chromium, like potatoes, meat, molasses, cheese, and produce. Bottom line: The type of chromium found in Plexus Slim is synthetic and in higher doses than one might get from a balanced diet.
- Plexus Slim Blend- green coffee bean extract, Garcinia Cambogia fruit extract, and alpha-lipoic acid: let’s break these down by parts.
Green coffee bean extract is found frequently in diet products because it contains chlorogenic acid, which has been found to promote weight loss. Green coffee extract is made with green coffee beans, while the coffee we typically drink is made from roasted coffee beans and contains very little chlorogenic acid. Green coffee extract (“GCE”) can have some scary side effects, which we’ll detail below, and may also disrupt hormones.
Garcinia Cambogia is a tropical fruit said to block your body’s ability to make fat, suppress your appetite, and even regulate your blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Alpha-lipoic acid is an antioxidant found in liver, spinach, broccoli, and potatoes. It is purported to create energy and protect cells within the body. Plexus Slim Blend bottom line: these ingredients may have side effects and work counter-intuitively with your body to create hormonal disturbances.
- Polydextrose- an “other” ingredient additive, polydextrose is a low-calorie, low-carbohydrate sweetener and fiber additive created from glucose and a sugar alcohol, sorbitol. Most dextrose products are derived from corn, though some also come from rice or tapioca. It’s unclear where the polydextrose in Plexus Slim comes from. Polydextrose most likely makes up the bulk of the product, as it’s listed first in the “other ingredients” area. We’ll talk more about that below. Bottom line: Polydextrose is bad news.
- Citric acid- a citrus-based preservative, citric acid is often found in natural food products. It’s generally a very small amount, so most of us are ok with it, but should be aware of its origins. Since it would not be cost-effective to use citrus-derived citric acid in food products, the majority of products actually contain a synthetic compound derived from mold. It’s typically made from GMO sugars (derived from corn or other simple carbohydrates) and involves combing the sugar with mold spores. Bottom line: Citric acid may not be as benign as we think.
- Natural Flavors- they’re supposed to be naturally derived, but, unfortunately, natural flavors can mean just about anything. While Plexus claims that the natural flavors in Plexus Slim are from berries, we have to assume it’s not just berries or the berries would be listed as ingredients. Instead, we see natural flavors, and from that, we can only assume something sinister is lurking in the flavoring of Plexus Slim. Bottom line: We don’t know what’s in the “natural flavors,” so we don’t know how safe this ingredient is.
- Beet Extract- responsible for giving Plexus Slim its signature pink color, beet extract does offer some vitamins and minerals, however, clearly this is not the aim of this ingredient, or it would be listed as an active ingredient along with the vitamin and mineral content. Bottom line: beets in and of themselves are super healthy, but don’t really offer any significant health benefits in Plexus Slim.
- Stevia Leaf Extract- added for sweetness and touted as totally natural, stevia leaf is a plant-based, no calorie sweetener. However, recent research has shown that stevia may be addictive, as well as cause hormonal imbalances. Bottom line: Better than artificial sweeteners, but not as healthy as we previously thought.
- Luo-han-guo Fruit Extract- another sweetener, luo-han-guo is a herbaceous perennial vine also known as monk fruit. It’s used as a sugar substitute and also in herbal medicine. Bottom line: Monk fruit is a natural sweetener with some purported medicinal benefits, but it is only a very small part of the Plexus Slim makeup.
- Guar Gum- a thickener derived from the guar bean, guar gum is a natural additive found in lots of foods, including organic coconut milk. It has been shown to lower blood glucose levels and body weight in high doses, though it may cause digestive upset for some people. Bottom line: Guar gum is a benign additive with no real benefits but unlikely to cause harm.
- Silicon Dioxide- a naturally occurring mineral, silicon dioxide is often added to powdered products to help them flow and keep them from clumping. It is unlikely to cause any health issues. Bottom line: Silicon dioxide is a natural additive found in lots of health supplements, and is typically not cause for concern.
Plexus Slim Side Effects
So, with all of the above ingredients in mind, is Plexus safe? Let’s take a look at the possible side effects.
Green Coffee Extract, one of the main weight-loss ingredients in Plexus Slim, has been shown to cause headaches, anxiety, nervousness, depression, gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea and vomiting, mineral deficiency, and irregular heartbeat, to name a few.
Chromium, like GCE, can cause an irregular heartbeat and stomach discomfort, as well as damage to the liver and kidneys. It may also cause hypoglycemia by lowering blood sugar too much.
Garcinia Cambogia can also cause dangerously low blood sugar, particularly for diabetics who are already taking medication.
Health Problems Plexus Slim May Cause
The two main health problems with Plexus Slim, however, are its main ingredient of synthetic fiber filler, and its ability to disrupt hormones.
While there is not an amount listed for the polydextrose, let’s do some simple math to see if we can’t guess how much might really be in it:
One packet of Plexus Slim is 5 grams. According to the label, there are 200 micrograms of chromium and 530 milligrams of the Plexus Slim Blend containing GCE, garcinia Cambogia, and alpha-lipoic acid.
We have to assume that since the active ingredients only make up a tiny fraction of the ingredients, the remaining ingredients are made up of some fibrous filler, and seeing as how polydextrose is listed first in the “other” ingredients, we can only assume it must make up the bulk of the powder.
Only about half a gram (just over 500 mg) is shown in the active, weight-loss-promoting ingredients. What makes up the remaining more than 4 grams?
The problem with taking a synthetic fiber like polydextrose is that it may bulk up your bowel movements and initially relieve constipation, but in the long run, it can cause major problems with your colon and lead to diverticulitis, an infection.
Is Plexus Safe? The Hormone Concern
The whole reason women are attracted to Plexus Slim is that it claims to help them lose weight. It does this by speeding up the metabolism and reducing blood sugar, as well as stifling cravings.
Unfortunately, this is a recipe for disaster in the long run because it can cause the adrenal glands to become fatigued and imbalance hormones. When your blood sugar is artificially regulated by some mechanism other than food, your body may become confused and release glucose at the wrong time, or fail to release it when needed.
Your adrenal glands are responsible for helping to regulate your blood sugar, so if you are tampering with your blood sugar, your adrenal glands may become fatigued, which, ultimately, will send your hormones into a tailspin.
According to one study, green coffee extract is prized for its ability to temper your body’s reaction to sugar: “GCE has also been postulated to modify hormone secretion and glucose tolerance in humans.” (source) However, its this very ability that may cause long-term hormonal damage.
Is Plexus Safe?
With all of the above in mind, Plexus Slim is basically a synthetic fiber supplement with a little caffeine, which may increase energy, but can also leave you feeling jittery. Rather than depend on an overpriced fiber supplement to lose weight, consider these healthy options:
- Eat a balanced diet- lowering your carbohydrate intake and eating quality fats and protein is a healthy way to lose weight. Focus on getting your nutrients from fresh produce, rather than synthetic supplements.
- Try intermittent fasting- this easy fasting technique allows your digestive system to rest and spurs your body on to burn fat while you snooze.
- Get plenty of sleep and moderate exercise- focus on healthy lifestyle changes that work with and support your normal bodily needs, rather than working against them in the long run.