Psyllium is used clinically as a mild “colon cleanser” to aid in constipation due to the high fiber content. Psyllium offers a more natural approach to the cleaning of the gastrointestinal track versus products such as bisacodyl.
Psyllium seed powder and psyllium seed husk are both derived from the Plantago Ovata plant.
The fiber from this plant swells up and forms a gel when coming into contact with liquids which assists with digestion and moving waste through the gastrointestinal track.
The powder is made by grinding the husks down to produce a finer and less grainy texture; if you are adding psyllium to foods, the powder may be a better choice due to the ability to mix more thoroughly with less of a taste.
Psyllium seed powder is commonly known by the brand name Metamucil, Benefiber or Citrucel.
Psyllium husk, when mixed with fluids, can produce a grainy texture, which may be unappealing if you are mixing it into juices, smoothies or soups; however for baked goods or for use in dishes such as meatloaf, the texture is not a problem.
Psyllium husk forms a gel very quickly and must be consumed immediately if added to these foods. In addition, psyllium husk has a “grassy” taste and works best when added to flavored beverages.
The husk tends to provide more substantial results in reference to the gastrointestinal tract versus the seed powder; however, taste preference is priority in terms of adherence to regular psyllium therapy. Psyllium husk is sold by companies such as Yerba Prima and Puritan’s Pride.
There are 5 grams of fiber in both 1 tablespoon of psyllium husk and 2/3 tablespoon of the psyllium powder. Psyllium not only helps with constipation, it can also help you feel full, decrease your risk of heart disease and reduce total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol.
Psyllium powder and husk must be mixed with enough water; approximately 8 ounces per serving. Be sure to drink enough water with your supplementation to prevent more constipation and pain in your digestive tract; in addition, drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water each day to ensure proper hydration.
Psyllium can affect certain medications due to the gel binding properties so be sure to speak with your doctor before taking any psyllium supplements.
Carey Stites is a certified personal trainer, group fitness instructor and a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition. Carey is currently the Registered Dietitian working with Wellstone in Harker Heights. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.