Perhaps best known as a sort of laxative or fiber supplement under brand names like Metamucil, psyllium husk offers a variety of health benefits like many of the plant-based soluble fibers you can purchase as a supplement.
People will find the most use for psyllium husk in lowering cholesterol levels (bad “LDL”) and reducing constipation (just ensure you’re drinking enough water!).
Big Benefits to Psyllium Husk
- IBD, IBS, Ulcerative Colitis and Constipation Relief – additional supplemental fiber intake in the form of psyllium husk is recommended by scientific studies to improve symptoms of digestive distress and relieve constipation by adding bulk to stool. When combined with water (or liquid) in the digestive tract, it can help speed the passage and excretion of stool. It also helps make the stool firmer.
- Numerous studies conclude psyllium husk to be beneficial towards cholesterol levels; improving HDL “good” cholesterol and lowering LDL or “bad” cholesterol in a number of clinical trials. Compared to placebo, and not adjusting dietary habits, those taking psyllium reduced LDL levels by over 20% after 8 weeks of treatment – and the decline continued as the treatment progressed further.
- Psyllium was found to help those with type II diabetes control their blood sugar and blood pressure without any negative side effects commonly associated with traditional ‘long-term’ medications. The high fiber content can help to maintain glycemic balance, and appears to be an extremely safe and effective choice for those with type II diabetes to better manage glucose regulation.
Feeling Bloated? Poor Gut Health? Is Psyllium Husk Right for Me?
The primary complaint most people new to psyllium husk supplements will launch is bloat – how to beat the bloat? This is likely due to absorption of water from the psyllium husk and the sudden increase in dietary fiber (especially if you don’t eat a lot initially). To accommodate this, try scaling back on the amount of psyllium husk you’re using and ensure you’re staying properly hydrated throughout the day.
Bloating and gas may be an indication that you’re intaking too much fiber; but it could also just be your body slowly trying to adapt to the change.
If you have esophageal narrowing, or any sort of bowel obstructions, you’ll probably want to avoid taking any sort of psyllium husk supplement.
If you’re new to fiber supplements like psyllium, it is always best to start slowly and increase the dosage as you become accustomed to the increased changes in dietary fiber. You’ll want to take around a TSP to start with, with a large glass of water (~240mL) and a meal. 5 grams divided into three doses per day with water and meal is a safe and therapeutic dosage.
You also want to make note to avoid using it at the same time as medications as it may impact their absorption and utility. Much like with apple pectin, we recommend trying to take psyllium an hour prior to medications, or around ~4 hours after any medications.