Psyllium husk is a soluble fiber that supports digestive health. Also known as ispaghula, psyllium helps alleviate diarrhea, constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and more.
Adults need to eat around 30g of fiber per day, but most adults only get half that amount. Fiber isn’t just important for healthy bowel movements, it can also lower the risk of colon cancer, reduce cholesterol, and even help with weight loss.
The unique characteristics of psyllium fiber have led to its use as a food supplement and additive. Psyllium is composed of about 70 percent soluble fiber, which forms a gel in your intestines, binding to cholesterol and helping to slow digestion. About 30 percent of the fiber in psyllium is insoluble fiber that contributes bulk to stool and helps to stimulate its movement through your intestinal tract, which improves bowel regularity. Insoluble fiber also has positive effects on cholesterol. Both the insoluble and soluble fiber present in psyllium are indigestible and pass through your intestinal tract largely unaltered.
Psyllium is made from the husks and seed coats of Plantago seeds. Since psyllium is a dietary supplement used mainly for its soluble fiber content, it is not normally considered a prime source of insoluble fiber. Therefore, if you wish to further increase the level of insoluble fiber in your diet, look to natural food sources. Nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes and fruits and vegetables are all natural sources of insoluble fiber.
Regular use of psyllium will likely increase the bulk and softness of your stool and provide lubrication to facilitate movement through your system, which may decrease tendencies for constipation. The insoluble fiber in psyllium is an important ingredient for its intestinal health benefits. Insoluble fiber contributes structure to the form and bulk of the digesta moving through your intestines, and it reduces the length of time in between bowel movements. These effects can lower your risk for developing diverticular disease, a painful inflammatory condition of the colon.
If your blood cholesterol is high, 5 grams of psyllium fiber twice daily in conjunction with a heart-healthy diet for several months could lower your total and low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, cholesterol by about 5 percent, according to a study published in the June 2000 issue of “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.” These benefits were attributed to its soluble fiber content. The insoluble fiber component of psyllium may also contribute to its cholesterol-lowering effects. For example, a study published in the “European Journal of Nutrition” found that 15 grams per day of insoluble fiber from carob pulp for 6 weeks lowered LDL by about 10 percent in human subjects.
May Promote Weight Loss
The gel that forms in your stomach when you ingest psyllium can also help you feel less hungry between meals. The gel pushes on the stomach walls signaling to the body it is full, helping to curb your appetite and keep you feeling fuller longer.