Psyllium, or otherwise known as Psyllium Husk, is a soluble plant fiber with prebiotic action, which comes from Plantago ovate. According to the recommendations, daily fiber intake should be 25-30 grams for adults, an intake which is significantly different from what is currently achieved through diet.
Reduced fiber intake and health
Reduced fiber intake, which is combined with low fluid intake, is associated with many gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation and hemorrhoids. On the contrary, adequate fiber intake seems to reduce the risk of many chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes, and also positively affects the incidence of bowel cancer.
Types of fiber
Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that is not digested by the gastrointestinal system. Fibers are categorized into soluble and insoluble, depending on their solubility in water.
What is Phyllium Husk?
It is an edible plant fiber derived from the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata, a plant that grows primarily in India. It is essentially a polysaccharide belonging to the arabinoxylan group and has prebiotic activity. It is also known as a blowing agent, as it can also absorb significant amounts of water in its molecule, obtaining the gel form (gelatinous mass).
Properties and actions
Psyllium has laxative properties. Concomitant consumption of psyllium along with water results in its expansion into the gastrointestinal tract, increases bowel mobility as well as peristaltic bowel movements. As a result, it facilitates the passage of stools through the intestine and increases fecal size and moisture. In relation to other common laxatives, such as senna, psyllium prevails as it does not cause addiction and can be used long term. Since hemorrhoids are often a consequence of chronic constipation, taking Psyllium help to relieve symptoms and to faster heal intestinal mucosa.
Although no one would believe that taking fiber is indicated in diarrhea, the opposite seems to be the case. Consumption of psyllium helps regulate the passage of intestinal content, absorbs excessive liquids, thereby relieving the symptoms of mild to moderate diarrhea. In addition, as the psyllium also absorbs gases, it also relieves from the symptoms of flatulence and bloating.
According to many studies, taking psyllium supplement helps reduce serum cholesterol. Several studies have shown that systemic intake can effectively reduce both total serum cholesterol levels (4.8%) and LDL cholesterol (14.8%). Psyllium reduces the absorption rate of cholesterol from the intestine, thus contributing to better lipid regulation.
Psyllium can help to better regulate serum glucose levels in both diabetic and non-diabetic subjects, without increasing the risk of hypoglycemia. Psyllium reduces the absorption rate of carbohydrates, resulting in a gradual increase of glucose levels, mainly postprandial.
Cardiovascular Health and Blood Pressure
The consumption of high-fiber foods is associated with a reduction in cardiovascular risk and blood pressure. In particular, the intake of soluble plant fibers, such as psyllium, was found to be associated with lower serum triglycerides, decreased systolic and diastolic blood pressure, and reduced risk of coronary heart disease.
Weight loss and appetite
Taking psyllium helps maintain body weight. Several studies have shown that psyllium intake is associated with a lower body mass index, increased satiety and decreased appetite.
Recommended dose – supplements
The recommended dose varies depending on the condition and the case. The psyllium is available in both tablet and powder form.
Regarding psyllium hush supplements in powder, the recommended dose for children up to 12 years of age is 5 grams (1 teaspoon) divided into 3 doses in the day. For adults and children over 12, are recommended 15 grams (1 tablespoon) divided into 3 doses in the day, along with abundant fluid consumption (~ 500ml/dose).
Increased fiber intake can cause gastrointestinal disturbances. If high doses are required, it is recommended the dose be gradually increased within the day. Psyllium should not be taken by people with bowel obstructions or spasms. As with all fiber supplements, do not take within one to two hours of prescription medications.