Psyllium Husk Benefits
1. Glucose control
Controlling blood sugar levels is essential for good health. Adding psyllium husk to the diet has been shown to control spikes in blood sugar following a meal by reducing the rate of carbohydrate absorption. This helps to reduce the common energy crash following a meal.
In addition, psyllium husk helps to improve long-term glucose control.
2. Improved heart health
The gel-like fibre created when psyllium absorbs water may also play an important role in lowering our “bad” LDL (low-density lipoproteins) cholesterol without having any effect on our “good” HDL (high-density lipoproteins) cholesterol via a similar mechanism to that of cholesterol-lowering drugs.3 This mechanism involves psyllium binding to bile acids in the gut and preventing their re-absorption. This has important implications for our health as studies have suggested that high LDL cholesterol is associated with various cardiovascular diseases.
3. Weight loss
Feelings of hunger after meals are all too common when dieting and can completely ruin a well-structured programme in an instant. Whilst a sustained negative energy balance (sustained periods of time eating fewer calories than used by the body) is fundamental for weight loss, the high fibre content of the psyllium husk can be a great tool to have in your weight loss belt as its addition has been demonstrated to help slow the digestion of food within the stomach and increase feelings of fullness following a meal.
With this in mind, studies have demonstrated significant weight loss with the addition of psyllium husk to the diet. Whilst this is impressive in itself, these studies also demonstrate sustained, progressive weight loss over time and no weight re-gain during the latter months of the programme.
4. Helps to meet daily fibre recommendations
Each teaspoon of psyllium husk contains a staggering 5g of fibre, which is around 15% of your daily fibre requirements and the equivalent of 200g steamed broccoli. Given that the average fibre intake within the UK is 10-15g lower than recommended values8 (Institute of Medicine recommends 14g per 1000 kcal), especially for those consuming low-carbohydrate diets, it is important to keep on top of daily fibre intake.
As low-fibre diets appear to be a risk factor for heart and gastrointestinal issues, amongst others, it is clear that this low intake must be addressed. Whilst these benefits can be achieved through a range of whole food sources, the addition of 1-2 teaspoons of psyllium husk each day can help to provide a quick and efficient fix to fibre deficiencies within our diets.
5. Promotes natural bowel movements
Healthy bowel function is essential for optimal health and to avoid gastrointestinal issues such as constipation and subsequent haemorrhoids. Not only are these damaging to our health but they can also impact our performance or make exercise impossible altogether.
To this end, psyllium has been demonstrated to provide a clear laxative effect and help to improve the regularity of the bowel and is highly recommended for those suffering with chronic constipation.
When compared with other dietary fibre sources, psyllium appears to be one of the most effective for bowel-related issues whilst also being associated with fewer side-effects such as bloating and gas.
Furthermore, psyllium supplementation is also gluten-free.