Psyllium Husk Powder: Health Benefits and How to Use

Did you know that Popular fiber supplements include inulin, pectin, beta-glucans, and psyllium husk.


Psyllium husk powder is rich in both soluble and insoluble dietary fiber and is often used as a fiber supplement to relieve constipation, improve cholesterol and blood sugar markers, support effective digestion, facilitate weight management, and more! [2]

This article will guide you through the health benefits of psyllium husk powder and will give you some tips on how to include it in your diet!

Let’s get started!


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. Why is psyllium husk healthy?

  2. Health benefits of psyllium husk powder

  3. Improved cholesterol profile

  4. Lower risk of heart disease

  5. Lower blood pressure levels

  6. Weight management

  7. Blood sugar control

  8. Constipation relief

  9. IBS symptoms improvement

  10. How to use psyllium husk?

  11. Psyllium husk side effects


Why is psyllium husk healthy?


According to the website NutritionData, 9 grams of psyllium husk powder contains 7 grams of dietary fiber, which is about 28% of the recommended daily fiber intake [3] (soluble to insoluble fiber ratio: 70/30 [4]). The source also suggests that the powder contains trace amounts of iron and calcium.

Furthermore, psyllium husk has a very low glycemic index and is low in calories (34 kcal per 9 grams of product).


Health benefits of psyllium husk powder


The health benefits of psyllium husk are generally associated with the naturally occurring soluble and insoluble fiber in the powder. Multiple studies have demonstrated that these benefits include improved cholesterol and blood pressure management, reduced risk of heart disease, weight management, blood sugar control, constipation relief, increased satiety, and improvement in IBS symptoms.


Let’s see the details:

Improved Cholesterol Profile

A 2018 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition suggests that the intake of psyllium fiber may positively affect cholesterol profile by reducing total and LDL (bad) cholesterol in study participants. [5]

Lower risk of heart disease

Evidence suggests that the cholesterol-improving properties of psyllium husk powder may be directly associated with a decreased risk of heart disease and atherosclerosis development/progression. [5][6]

Lower blood pressure levels

According to a 2012 study published in the British Journal of Nutrition, supplementing with psyllium fiber for 6 weeks may help improve high blood pressure in obese individuals. [7] However, the source suggests that sticking to a balanced diet rich in fiber may show better long-term results when it comes to hypertension improvement.

Weight management

Evidence suggests that daily consumption of 15 grams psyllium husk powder may reduce daily calorie intake and BMI, as well as facilitate weight loss by providing an increased feeling of satiety. [8]

Blood sugar control

The soluble fiber in psyllium fiber, forms a gel-like substance in your stomach once it’s been consumed. This substance provides bulk in the stomach and intestines, which contributes to increased fullness and regular bowel movements.


According to a 2017 review paper published in the Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, regular psyllium husk fiber intake may significantly lower the fasting blood sugar of patients with metabolic syndrome and type 2 diabetes. The source also suggests that this type of fiber may improve glycemic control in healthy individuals and, this way, decrease the risk of health conditions associated with high blood sugar. [9]

Constipation relief

Evidence suggests that the soluble and insoluble fiber occurring in psyllium husk powder may improve stool consistency and relieve constipation by introducing water to the stools and facilitating bowel movement. [10]

Did you know that psyllium can also improve diarrhea? It absorbs the excess liquid/water from the stools and makes them bulkier. Yet, keep in mind that insoluble fiber (also found in psyllium) may worsen diarrhea and irritable bowel syndrome symptoms.

IBS symptoms improvement

A 2017 review paper published in the International Journal of Molecular Medicine suggests that fiber supplementation (in particular psyllium husk powder) with the exception of oligosaccharides (which is highly fermentable fiber) could be safely and efficiently used in the management of IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome). [11]


Symptoms of IBS may include stomach pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, fatigue, and other GI-related symptoms. Intensity of symptoms may vary according to lifestyle, dietary, physical activity levels, and stress management. [12] Depending on the person and symptoms they’re experiencing, fiber may either aid or impede improvement in symptoms. Consult your doctor and registered dietitian to see if these supplements could be helpful for you.


How to use psyllium husk?


Psyllium husk is sold in both capsule and powder form. While the capsules could be directly ingested with water, the powder should be first dissolved in liquid and then ingested.


Make sure to consume the powder form in at least 8 oz of fluid to prevent negative side effects. Follow the instructions on the packaging to make sure you are taking this supplement safely and as intended. [13] The UK Patients Platform suggests that the best way to take psyllium powder is to mix it with at least 8 ounces of liquid (water, juice, etc.), stir, and drink it right away.


For capsules, the recommendation is to take one capsule at a time with a full glass of water. The source also suggests taking psyllium after a meal and to avoid taking it in the evening. [14]


Did you know that you can also use psyllium with your baked goods? Adding psyllium to your baking recipes will increase their fiber content and will help the mixture thicken. [15]


Psyllium husk side effects


While psyllium husk fiber is considered as a generally safe supplement, some people may experience side effects (due to excess consumption, allergy, or intolerance) [13]:

  • Hives

  • Swelling on face or mouth

  • Constipation lasting longer than 7 days

  • Severe stomach pain

  • Bloating

  • Minor changes in bowel habits

  • Rectal bleeding (very rarely)

Following the recommended daily allowance for psyllium consumption may help prevent excess food intake and decrease the risk of side effects. According to the website Drugs.com, the usual adult dose of psyllium husk powder is [13] :

  • 38g/day for men (age 19 to 50)

  • 25g/day for women (age 19 to 50)

  • 28g/day for pregnant women

  • 29g/day for breastfeeding women

If you experience any side effects, consult your healthcare provider to avoid complications and ensure optimal benefits of the psyllium powder.


Takeaway Tips from the Registered Dietitian:


All the evidence we reviewed today highlights the importance of including fiber in the diet. The best way to add fiber to your diet is through eating whole foods naturally high in fiber, such as fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains. Fiber supplements are fantastic for making sure you're getting the extra fiber you need, based on your symptoms and dietary restrictions, but the optimal way to consume fiber is in your diet!


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