Fibre and Psyllium Husk
Fibre is a complex carbohydrate that can only be obtained from plants but unlike other carbohydrates is indigestible and doesn’t release any form of energy. We do not obtain any nutrient or energy from fibre; it is not made up of any calorie. However, fibre has a very beneficial effect to the body. It is very vital for the optimal functioning of the digestive system. It also helps to get rid of potential harmful waste out of the body. Eating foods that have high content of fibre helps to create a longer period of satiating effect which can be useful for people who want to lose weight.
Fibre is a significant part of a healthy balanced diet. It maintains a healthy heart and improves the digestive health among other benefits. For example, if you are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), you may be required to adjust the form and quantity of fibre contained in your diet.
There are two different forms of fibre:
- Soluble fibre
- Insoluble fibre
Both soluble and insoluble fibre assists the body in different ways. Thus, it is essential to eat a diet that is composed of both forms of fibre.
Soluble fibre is the form of fibre that dissolves in the water present in the digestive system. It helps to reduce blood cholesterol level and can also help those suffering from constipation.
Insoluble fibre is the type of fibre that doesn't dissolve in water. It is transported undigested down your digestive system and helps in effective bowel movement. It also helps to prevent digestive track issues like diarrhea.
What is Pysllium Husk?
Psyllium Husk is a water soluble fibre used mainly as a mild laxative in drugs like metamucil. It is extracted from the seed of husk of an aromatic plant known as the Ispaghula, Plantago Ovata. It originated from East Asia and India but can grow in any soil that is moist and well drained with adequate supply of sunlight. It doesn’t grow well under shades. One plant of Psyllium husk can generate roughly fifteen thousand small gel-layered seeds from where the psyllium husk is derived.
It is available in various forms and has a lot of health benefits. It can be used in the treatment of a lot of ailments including constipation, diabetes, diarrhoea, genito-urinary tract and maintenance of normal cardiovascular function. It is composed of roughly thirty percent of insoluble fibre and seventy percent of soluble fibre. It is structurally composed of hemicellulose which is a form of viscous indigestible and non-calorific fibre generated from strengthening of cell walls.
Uses of Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk has a lot of health benefits including improving digestive regularity and feelings of satiety which leads to reduced food consumption, regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol amongst others. It has been scientifically proven to be a good remedy for the treatment of a lot of diseases and health conditions including the following:
- Colon cancer
- Stings and insect bites
- Bleeding hemorrhoids
- Heart disease
- Hypertension/ High blood pressure
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Kidney stones
- Peptic ulcer
- Crohn's Disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
- Poison ivy rash
Health Benefits of Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk Dietary fiber has been found to possess the following health benefits:
It reduces Constipation and Diarrhea
Psyllium husk has been proved through scientific studies to be a very effective remedy for constipation. It is a preferred choice of laxatives than the toxic ones made from magnesium compounds. It readily combines with water or other form of liquid to produce additional bulk which stimulates the contraction of the gut and assist to speed the haulage of stool through the digestive tract. Psyllium husk is also very effective at relieving mild and moderate form of diarrhea. It absorbs a good amount of water and this makes the stool stiffer able to move slower through the digestive tract.
It lowers the level of Cholesterol in the body
Study shows that psyllium husk produces therapeutic effects to individual suffering from high cholesterol levels when it is included in their diets. Another study published in The Journal of The American Medical Association showed that psyllium husk has the ability to lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol level naturally.
Psyllium helps patients with chronic Constipation
A study published in the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics found that psyllium husk is essential for the treatment of chronic constipation. Psyllium absorbs more water and produces more bulk. This helps in the contraction of the intestinal track and speeds up bowl movement. Psyllium softens stool more than docusate sodium. It produces a mild laxative effect in patients with chronic idiopathic constipation.
Psyllium is used in the treatment of Colon Cancer
A 1993 study published in the Journal of Cancer Letters showed that diets that combined wheat bran and psyllium husk can be used to treat humans suffering from colon cancer risk.
Management of Blood Sugar
Psyllium husk can be used to treat and prevent diabetes. It regulates maintains healthy glycemic balance in the body. A study conducted to determine the effect of psyllium husk on the level of lipid and glucose as a dietary and drug therapy in type II diabetes patients showed that it regulates blood sugar without constituting any negative effect.
A second study showed that psyllium husk has a useful therapeutic effect in the metabolic control of diabetes type II. It thus helps to regulate the level of blood sugar and serves as a natural treatment for diabetic patients.
It boosts the overall condition of the Heart Health
Psyllium husk is a high water soluble fibre that helps to reduce the levels of triglyceride levels and minimize the possibility of cardiovascular disease. A research published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition which tested the effects of psyllium in type II diabetic patients showed that it normalized blood sugar and minimized potential risk of heart disease.
It is useful in the treatment of hypertension and high blood pressure
One major way to prevent hypertension is by eating a healthy diet.
A random clinical trial showed that using Psyllium supplement for six months helped obese hypertensive patients to reduce both systolic and diastolic blood pressure.
It is used in the maintenance of healthy weight
Psyllium husk is one of the good sources of medicinal plants that have shown promising result at helping people maintain a healthy weight.
It does this by providing the patient with a feeling of satiety, which in turn helps the individual to stay away from overeating. It thus acts as a natural treatment for obesity. Psyllium husk also helps to quickly and regularly eliminate waste from the body. A clinical Experimental Hypertension study shows that psyllium husk helps to reduce the body mass index. Take psyllium husk before meal or together with your meals if you want to lose weight faster.
It can be used in baking and product ion of cereals
Psyllium husk can be used to produce bread, breakfast cereals, pasta and snack foods. Psyllium husk is a good natural alternative to gluten, xanthan gum, and other harmful and costly binding agents used in baking. Due to its solubility, it absorbs water and becomes gelatinous and sticky when soaked.
Study found that mere incorporation of five percent of psyllium could boost the baking characteristics of bread. However, when it is used as a binding agent, you need to add extra water to make up for its water-absorbing capacity. Allow the dough or batter to stay for some minutes to help it form gelatin and after that you can add the suitable amount of liquid to get the consistency you want.
It is effectively treats Crohn’s disease
Psyllium husk has been discovered as an effective treatment for ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Research shows that it is as efficient as mesalamine drug in the eradication of ulcerative colitis. However, check out with your doctor to confirm the dosage that is suitable for your peculiar situation.
Used as a thickening agent
It is also used as a thickener in ice cream and frozen deserts
Where to purchase Psyllium
Psyllium husk is available for sale in natural health food stores. It is also available online from sites that sell natural medicinal herbs including amazon. It can be accessed in various forms including the natural form, the powdered form and the capsular form. Psyllium is also used as an ingredient in the production of a few laxatives. You can also buy Psyllium in tablets and wafers forms. If you are purchasing packaged psyllium ensure you choose products that have no sugar additives or artificial sweeteners.
How To Take Psyllium:
You can use psyllium husks whole in their natural state or dried and sliced or in powdered form for easier consumption. In any state you want to take it, you need to mix it with water or other forms of liquid.
Psyllium is good for children as children also need to get enough fibre from their diet. However, you should never give your child psyllium supplements without the recommendation of your doctor.
If you are an adult who wants to take psyllium husk or seeds: Mix one to two tsp of psyllium husks with eight oz of warm water and stir properly. Psyllium husk absorbs water fast. You need to mix and drink fast to prevent it from becoming too thick for drinking.
Side Effects of Psyllium
Psyllium is relatively safe. It can be taken by pregnant or lactating mothers. There are no known side effects of psyllium if you take adequate quantity with enough water. Nevertheless, those who are allergic to psyllium husk or seeds may experience side effects including rash, hive, sneezing, gas, stomach pain, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, asthma skin irritation, itchiness or distended skin. In exceptional cases, psyllium may result to headache, cough and sinus issues.
If you are already taking other medications for diabetes or cholesterol, you should talk with your doctor before taking psyllium.
It is not recommended for those suffering from swallowing issues, intestinal blockages, or those that have done bowel operation in the recent times.
You should discontinue use if you experience any uncomfortable symptom and consult your doctor.
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