Psyllium: a small seed with great benefits
Fiber supplements, once considered "for the elderly," are increasingly popular among health-conscious adults, as well as sports enthusiasts. And no wonder, given all that fiber has to offer! Among the high-fiber products, psyllium tops the list. Here's everything you need to know about it.
Why is fiber so essential to the body?
First let's refresh your memory: Fiber is a type of carbohydrate that comes from plants and cannot be absorbed by the body. As you probably know, carbohydrates are the body's energy source. “There
are two types of fiber, and both are good for your health,” says one at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Soluble fiber, which dissolves in water, can help lower blood glucose and cholesterol
levels. Insoluble fiber, which does not dissolve in water, can help food move through the digestive system, promote regular bowel movements, and prevent constipation. »
But fiber is not only useful in regularizing our passages to the toilet... It can also modulate the intestinal flora, that is, strengthen the gut microbiome, according to researchers from the University of
Illinois.. And that's not all! "The health effects of dietary fiber also include the prevention and mitigation of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease and colon cancer," these researchers add. “By
modulating digestion, food absorption and metabolism, dietary fiber reduces the risk of hyperlipidemia [a high level of triglycerides (a type of fat) in the blood], hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycaemia.
Research is also beginning to examine the role of fiber in “modifying Immunity", that is, regulation of the immune system. If this effect is confirmed, fiber can be considered a way to prevent infection and enhance cognitive processes such as memory and even mood.
If you are concerned about your risk of developing breast cancer or other types of estrogen-dependent cancers, increasing your fiber intake is also a good idea. An article published in the Journal of
Cancer reviewed 20 studies on the issue and found that women who ate the most fiber had an 8% lower risk of developing breast cancer, compared to women who ate the least. This finding applies to both
postmenopausal and menopausal women. And that's not all: When fiber sources are varied, the body also absorbs a variety of minerals, vitamins, phytoestrogens, "and other bioactive compounds known to support estrogen metabolism pathways." The process by which the body maintains good levels of estrogen.
The recommended daily amount of fiber decreases with age. For women under 50, 25 grams per day is recommended, compared to 21 grams for women over 50. For men under 50, expect 38 grams of
fiber per day, compared to 30 grams after 50. Barley, lentils, chickpeas, beans, potatoes, beans, nuts, seeds, leafy and root vegetables, cruciferous vegetables like Brussels sprouts and broccoli, as well as fruits (particularly blueberries and cherries) are all Good sources of fibre.
How do you include psyllium in your diet?
For many people, getting enough fiber isn't easy. This happens when a supplement, for example containing psyllium, becomes interesting. Psyllium is a soluble fiber, and it has a tremendous absorption
capacity. As soon as it comes into contact with fluid in the digestive tract, it begins to swell. Psyllium can absorb water about 40 times its weight. For comparison, chia seeds can absorb 7 to 12 times their
weight in water. The nutritional values of psyllium powder vary somewhat, but one tablespoon contains about 7 grams of fiber.
It also releases psyllium mucilage in the digestive system. Gum is a bodily fluid that, like what drips from your nose, is secreted into your digestive system to help it function. The outer layer of psyllium
contains polysaccharides (slow polysaccharides), which acquire a jelly-like texture upon contact with liquid. This is also why psyllium
is used in many gluten-free baking recipes, as it provides the same binding effect as gluten. Most of the mucilage is not eliminated while passing through the intestines.
If you are taking medication, check with your doctor before taking psyllium as it may reduce the effects of the medication.
What are the benefits of psyllium?
Psyllium is often used as a main ingredient in over-the-counter laxatives, for its effect on constipation. The absorption capacity of psyllium increases stool mass and stimulates bowel activity.
Combined with enough water, the secreted mucilage acts as a lubricant and facilitates the transportation of stool through the intestines. (In other words, the heavy burden passes easily!) The gum also helps protect the irritated and inflamed areas of the digestive system.
Not to mention, psyllium also contains flavonoids, an antioxidant used to ward off harmful free radicals.
How do you take psyllium?
In general, psyllium comes in the form of a powder to be mixed with a drink (usually water), or in the form of capsules. If you mix it with water, make sure you do it with enough water and drink it quickly.
The longer psyllium is in the water, the more sticky and difficult it is to swallow. So the amount of water should be sufficient. And if you have trouble swallowing it, don't force it. It is best to mix the
psyllium in smaller cups and drink it in batches. The powder can also be mixed with yogurt, porridge or muesli. Psyllium is also
available in capsules. In this case, always follow the directions on the package so as not to take too much at once and add enough liquid. (In addition to the choking hazard, it can actually upset your digestive
system.) Adding psyllium to your diet should be done slowly. Gargling, cramping, and other bloating may be signs that the body is adjusting to this fiber supplement, but these symptoms should usually go away within a few days.
Never rush to incorporate psyllium into your eating habits. In fact, since it acts on the digestive system, it can also reduce the number of nutrients provided by the foods you eat. If you are taking psyllium
for minor digestive issues, give it time. Some actually notice a noticeable improvement after a few hours in the event of small digestive problems, but others will have to wait up to 3 days to see the positive effects of psyllium on the intestines.
Psyllium is not for everyone. Its taste is neutral but somewhat unpleasant, and some people may find that it causes digestive
problems more than anything else. If this is your case, go back to ripe bananas that turn brown. These have already lost starch during maturation and can alleviate many digestive ailments.