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What is Psyllium Husk & What are its Benefits?

What is Psyllium Husk?

For hundreds of years, psyllium husk has been recognized as a natural medicinal plant used to maintain the body’s overall health and well-being. Today, psyllium husk is known as one of the most effective fibers for supporting digestive health. Psyllium (also called Ispaghula), comes from the Plantago ovata plant, most commonly found in the Rajasthan and Gujarat regions of India.

Psyllium fiber consists of highly branched and gel-forming arabinoxylan, a polymer rich in arabinose and xylose that comes from the outer coating, or “husk”, of the psyllium plant’s seeds. It is one of the best naturally occurring sources of soluble fiber and also an effective prebiotic that nourishes beneficial gut bacteria. Several members of the intestinal microbiota can utilize these oligosaccharides and their constituent sugars as an energy. (source)

Psyllium Husk and its Swelling Index

Psyllium and psyllium husk are both products of the same plant. The difference comes from how the seeds are used. With psyllium, the complete seeds are used and for psyllium husk only the outer shell is used and the inner core, which is rich in fats and proteins, is removed.

The reason for this is that psyllium and psyllium husk have a different
swelling index. This unit of measure describes the ability of a product to absorb water. It measures how many milliliters of liquid a gram of product binds within 24 hours. For whole psyllium, this number is around nine. However, if you only use the husks, the swelling index increases to over forty! Eight times that of oats. This swelling ability is essential for the positive effects of psyllium husk on digestion.

Is Psyllium Husk a Soluble Fiber?

Psyllium husk is a perfect fiber because of its excellent water solubility. Psyllium husk absorbs water and becomes a thick, viscous compound that resists digestion in the small intestine. Its resistance to digestion allows it to help regulate high cholesterol, triglycerides, and blood sugar levels. It can also aid weight management and relieve mild diarrhea as well as constipation. 

How Does Psyllium Husk Work?

Psyllium husk works by binding to partially digested food that is passing from the stomach into the small intestine. When consumed with a glass of water it goes unchanged with limited digestion through your system. This resistance to digestion allows the strong water-absorbing and gelling capacities of psyllium husk to be the soft solution your intestines need. Unlike wheat bran and other kinds of scratchy, insoluble fiber, psyllium husk doesn’t over irritate the gut walls. In fact, psyllium husk has a greater effect than wheat bran, which is not a soluble fiber, on the moisture, total weight, and texture of stools. (source)

What are the Health Benefits of Psyllium Husk?

Psyllium has been used in traditional medicine across the United States, Europe, India, and China to improve digestive health, gastrointestinal functions, weight loss, blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol, hypertension and heart disease prevention and treatment

Supports Digestive Health, While Enhancing Weight Loss

Psyllium husk’s benefits come from its spongy fiber that is not readily digestible presenting a feeling of fullness and reducing appetite. The fiber-rich psyllium husk improves digestion while cleansing the digestive system. Psyllium is an excellent source of fiber for low carbohydrate diets effective in weight control programs and in maintaining general intestinal health. Taking psyllium husk daily will add the bulk that your poop constantly needs, making it easier for your intestines and colon to get rid of everything.

Promotes Heart Health and Lower Blood Cholesterol Levels

Use of psyllium in the diet for three weeks or longer lowers blood cholesterol levels in people with elevated cholesterol (source) (source), and lowers blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. (source) Use of psyllium for a month or longer produces a small reduction in systolic blood pressure. (source)

In the 1990s, German health authorities approved the use of psyllium to reduce serum cholesterol levels. (source)

In 1998, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved a health claim on food labels for dietary psyllium as a soluble fiber – if consumed chronically – that would reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering blood cholesterol. (source)

Clinical research demonstrated that seven grams or more per day of soluble fiber from psyllium husk would sufficiently lower total cholesterol and low density lipoprotein cholesterol in people with hypercholesterolemia, two accepted biomarkers for risk of coronary heart disease. (source) The findings were later confirmed in a meta-analysis that incorporated more evidence. (source)

The US Food and Drug Administration in 2006 authorized a health claim that psyllium husk, beta glucan in oats and beta glucan in barley can reduce the risk of heart disease. (source)   

Try taking 100% organic, non-GMO whole husk sylly daily for 2 weeks to see the powerful effects.