Psyllium offers a multitude of serious health benefits for a healthy digestive system. Pronounced “sili-em,” this fiber is derived from the husks of a plant seed known as Plantago ovata. After the seeds are removed from the shell, the psyllium husk is then milled to create a powder. Commonly used as a dietary supplement, psyllium husk powder is an effective and convenient way to increase your daily intake of this essential nutrient.
The National Fiber Council recommends adults consume approximately 32 grams of fiber daily. It’s no surprise that most Americans fall short of reaching this daily recommendation. It can be challenging to consume enough fiber-dense foods. Adding psyllium husk powder is a simple way to reach a daily fiber goal.
Soluble vs Insoluble Fiber
All fibers are not created equal. There are two types of fiber: soluble and insoluble. Soluble is a term used to describe a substance’s ability to dissolve in water. When consumed, soluble fiber blends into the natural water of your digestive tract, forming a gel-like substance. However, insoluble fiber does exactly the opposite. Instead of absorbing the water in the environment of your GI tract, it actually passes through undigested. As the fiber travels through your digestive system, it acts as a bulking agent, clearing out everything – including toxins, pollutants, and stored waste.
Psyllium husk is comprised mostly of soluble fiber (70 percent), but it provides insoluble fiber as well. Because psyllium husk fiber works this way, it is a wonderful addition to a gut-healthy diet.
Here are just seven reasons to add psyllium husk to your diet, today!
Psyllium husk fiber works in your GI system to help speed up the digestive process. As it passes through your intestines, and down into the colon undigested, it pushes food through your digestive system faster, thus increasing transit time. Additionally, this may help to remove any lingering waste from your colon, supporting your overall health.1
Use psyllium husk as a home remedy for stomach upset with accompanying diarrhea. To increase the surprisingly fast results of psyllium for diarrhea relief, consume the powder along with yogurt or milk for the additional benefits of probiotics.
To maintain optimal health, our bodies must maintain a balance between acidity and alkalinity. The stomach has the highest acidity in the body, with a pH of 1.35 – 3.5. This acidity not only aids in digestion, it also protects against pathogens.2
Again, though, maintaining balanced pH levels throughout the body is key. Without it, damage to the lining of the stomach and intestines may occur. Psyllium husk’s high insoluble fiber content may help, by coating the stomach lining, and reducing acidity in the GI tract.
4. Fewer Cravings
If you suffer from hunger pains and food cravings that seem to strike all day long, you may need to find more filling snacks. Psyllium husk powder can easily be added into recipes to increase satiety. As the bulk-forming fiber enters your digestive tract, it promotes feelings of fullness.3
5. Nutrient Absorption
Fiber is the best food to feed hungry, helpful gut bugs. While your digestive tract contains an estimated 100 + trillion living bacteria, some of those tiny bacteria can make you very sick if you let them get out of hand. Kill off the “bad” gut bugs that can cause illness by feeding the “good” bugs (probiotics) what they need to grow: fiber.
Studies have shown that by consuming more fiber, prebiotic microbacteria in the gut flourish. This can lessen GI inflammation and promote better nutrient absorption through the intestines.4,5
6. Piles Relief
Because psyllium husk softens stool and makes the digestive process easier, it is also known to reduce the pain of swollen blood vessels around the anus and rectum. For those suffering from “piles,” commonly known as hemorrhoids, the added fiber may really help to reduce pain and irritation of bowel movements.
7. Difficulty Passing Stool
Most people today aren’t getting enough water. The right amount is different for everyone, but what you may not realize is that if you are thirsty, you are probably already dehydrated. This can take a toll on the proper function of the digestive system. For people suffering with pain associated from passing dry stools, psyllium husk may help. Because of the high content of insoluble fiber contained in this plant-based fiber, it holds water inside the GI tract, making stools easier to pass.
Fiber is an essential nutrient needed for proper digestion and a healthy body. While some forms of fiber can be overly-binding (including psyllium), it is highly recommended that you aim to drink at least 8-10 8-ounce glasses of water every day to see how your body reacts to psyllium husk fiber. From there, you can consume fiber every day to fuel optimal digestive health!
Note: As with any new health regimen, check with your doctor before adding psyllium husk to your diet.
Dr. Cary Nelson
For more health news, keep reading:
1. National Fiber Council. About Fiber. Are you getting your fill of fiber? http://www.nationalfibercouncil.org/af_are.shtml
2. Gerry K. Schwalfenberg. The Alkaline Diet: Is There Evidence That an Alkaline pH Diet Benefits Health? J Environ Public Health. 2012; 2012: 727630.
3. Clark MJ, Slavin JL. The effect of fiber on satiety and food intake: a systematic review. J Am Coll Nutr. 2013;32(3):200-11.
4. Shiu-Ming Kuo. The Interplay Between Fiber and the Intestinal Microbiome in the Inflammatory Response. http://advances.nutrition.org/content/4/1/16.full
5. Krishnan S, Rosenberg L, Singer M, et al. Glycemic index, glycemic load, and cereal fiber intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in US black women. Arch Intern Med. 2007;167:2304-9