Psyllium husk is obtained from the seeds of a plant named plantago. Actually, the husk is the outer shell of these seeds. The seeds are grounded to get the powder form. It is a rich source of soluble dietary fiber. That means, it is composed of complex carbohydrates, which cannot be broken down by the digestive system. The powder passes through the gastrointestinal tract without undergoing any change in its form. So, one of the key benefits is that, it is good for digestion as well as smooth bowel movements.
The powder is considered as a bulk laxative and is highly effective for treating constipation. When it is consumed, it absorbs a lot of water in the digestive tract and forms an expanding gel-like substance. Its increasing volume helps to push out the waste products from the colon and trigger bowel movement. Moreover, its mucilaginous properties soften up the stool and have a lubricating effect on the bowel movement. Thus, it facilitates easier passage of stools. It can be safely used by people with hard bowel movements, colitis, hemorrhoid, and anal fissures.
You may find it a bit strange but it is true that psyllium fiber is equally effective on both diarrhea as well as constipation. When it is used on mild to moderate form of diarrhea, then its fiber components absorb the extra water from the intestinal tract and gives the essential firmness to the stools. The best part is that, it not only provide relief from diarrhea, but also there is no chance of constipation, which happens quite often with many anti-diarrhea medicines.
Controlling Blood Sugar
Research studies have found that psyllium husk is capable of lowering down the blood sugar level of diabetic patients. This is possible because the powder tends to slow down the process of absorption of sugar into the blood. For best results, it should be taken just before the meals.
When it is taken by people with high cholesterol level, then the powder acts as a lipid lowering agent in their body. The high amount of soluble fiber and linoleic acid present in Psyllium promotes production of bile acids in the body, which are known to have cholesterol lowering qualities. This way psyllium helps to decrease the amount of cholesterol to be absorbed in the body.
Dietitians often recommend inclusion of psyllium husk powder in the diet for weight loss. This is because, when it binds with water, its volume increases. This gives a sense of fullness inside the small intestine and a person does not feel hungry. One teaspoon of this powder should be added to a glass of water and taken a number of times throughout the day for better weight loss results.
Usually, 1 teaspoon powder should be consumed two to three times a day. It can be added to a glass of water or fruit juice, and taken as a drink. For maximum benefits, you have to drink plenty of water throughout the day. There are no major side effects observed even after its long-term use. However, if it is not accompanied by sufficient amount of water intake, there is a risk of dehydration and intestinal blockage. It also tends to interact with some other medicines. Therefore, if you are on medications, then ask your doctor before using psyllium husk powder.