What is Psyllium Fiber?
Psyllium husk fiber is taken from a plant from the plantago genus. The psyllium seed husks (the outer skin of the seed) for the most part are composed of soluble fiber, meaning it is easily dissolved in fluid, but is not easily digested and instead is absorbed into the digestive tract.
When mixed with fluid, the psyllium husk expands and becomes gel like, so an increase in fluid intake is needed while taking this supplement. Due to its high fiber content and its gentle laxative properties, it is a popular ingredient for herbal and natural constipation relief supplements and colon cleansers.
Psyllium is versatile, it can be taken as capsules or in powder form, the powder can be added to meals, for example sprinkled over cereal or it can be mixed with water or fruit juice.
Due to the ‘natural’ flavor of this supplement, mixing with juice is probably the most popular as it masks the slightly unpleasant taste. Mixing with certain juices such as cranberry can also have added benefits.
- Improvement to overall digestive and intestinal health, can help ease constipation but at the same time help those suffering from some forms of diarrhea. With this in mind it may be of a great help to those badly affected by irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
- Due to its ability to make bowel movements more regular, thus improving the health of the colon, it is thought that a psyllium husk supplement can help prevent colon cancer.
- Psyllium husk, either as a powder or capsule supplement can help to ease the discomfort of hemorrhoids as it helps the stool to pass easier, so less straining, again this is made easier when fluid intake is increased.
- Psyllium husk is believed to help those suffering from hyperglycemia (high blood sugar levels) although further tests are being carried to find out just how beneficial it can be. It is also believed to have a beneficial effect on cholesterol so could be very useful to diabetes sufferers.
Weight Loss Using Psyllium
Psyllium fiber is thought to be extremely beneficial to overweight people for a variety of reasons.
- Psyllium husk powder and capsule supplements are bulking. If taken 30 minutes before a meal, as well as the added fluid needed, it can make the stomach feel fuller for longer, reducing appetite and so meaning less chance of snacking.
- It is the ideal supplement for those people on low carb diets as this sort of diet usually consists of a very poor fiber content. People on meal replacement diets will also find a benefit of using psyllium husk for the same reason.
- As it is believed to help regulate blood sugar, therefore reducing cravings for sugary treats psyllium husk powders are beneficial to those with a sweet tooth.
Psyllium Side effects
There are no serious psyllium husk side effects known, although anyone who may suffer from plant allergies should seek medical advice prior to beginning using this supplement.
Also due to the effect it has on blood sugar levels, those who suffer from diabetes of currently taking medications to control blood sugar should speak to their medical practitioner.
Not increasing fluid intake enough can cause gastrointestinal problems with psyllium fiber, but this is simply rectified. Any increase in fiber to the diet should be done gradually so as to avoid any stomach cramps.