Last you heard of Isabgol aka Psyllium Husk, it was a simple food laden with lots of fibre to help one cure for constipation. If you are still of the old opinion about Isabgol, it is time to take stock of this new food on the block. Let’s know more about this humble dietary supplement that is making heads turn with its super benefits.
What is Psyllium Husk all About?
- Firstly, it is a soluble fibre.
- Native to the Indian continent.
- Extracted from seeds of a herb.
- The name of the herb is Plantago ovato or ispaghula.
- Available in powder, granules, husk & capsules.
- An added ingredient in fortified foods.
Psyllium Husk (Isabgol) is basically a fibrous food. All those people who do not consume enough fibre in their daily diet, Psyllium Husk act as a blessing. Hence, it is popularly used to relieve constipation. However, there is much more to it. Psyllium is easily soluble in water. It absorbs water to an extent that it becomes a thick gel. It is better than laxative as it natural and gentle at the same time.
How Does Psyllium Husk Work?
Psyllium Husk is a natural cleanser of the intestines. When consumed, it accumulates in the colon. While exiting through the intestines of the human body, it takes along all the waste with it that had amassed over a period of time. This keeps the digestive system working.
Benefits of Psyllium Husk aka Isabgol
Let’s take a look at the benefits of Psyllium Husk and how can it help in our day to day life.
1. The Natural Fiber
If you are looking for a good source of fibre, then Isabgol fits the bill. You might have noticed that when people are on high protein diets, they are not able to consume whole cereals and fruits as well. This makes their body low on dietary fibre, one of the important requirements to stay healthy. Psyllium Husk is perfect in such cases. Just a small amount of Psyllium husk is enough to up the amount of dietary fibre in your diet. At times, people are not able to balance their diets and hence, consuming Psyllium husk helps by adding soluble fibre. The caution, however, is to limit the consumption and do not depend on it completely.
2. The Clearance Tool
This is a well-known fact that Psyllium husk doubles up as a laxative. It helps relieve constipation owing to lifestyle diseases and other reasons. Psyllium husk helps in absorbing water and increasing the size of stools. It even escalates the moisture in the stools. Without any doubt, Psyllium husk is better than laxatives as it is natural. It is even better than wheat bran as well when it comes to clearing the intestine. People suffering from chronic constipation have found relief through consumption of Psyllium Husk. Regular consumption even promotes regularity. Choose between different forms of Psyllium husk available or opt for products that have been fortified with Psyllium husk-like breakfast cereals or bakery goods.
3. The Controller
This comes as a total surprise. A product that helps cure constipation can also relieve diarrhoea is a disbelief for many. However, Isabgol has proved its mettle in both areas. As Psyllium husk has the power to absorb water, it helps in increasing the thickness of the stool. Many people suffer from diarrhoea as they are lactose intolerant. Psyllium husk helps such people by reducing the frequency of bowel movements.
4. Weight Loss Assistance
Isabgol is a source of natural fibre. It has the ability to control appetite in people who are trying to reduce their weight. Consuming Isabgol before meals make people on diet feeling full for a longer period. This ultimately beats hunger pangs and unhealthy snacking as well. For better results, take it around half an hour before consuming a heavy meal. Pair it up with a glass of water. This helps the Isabgol to expand owing to its water-absorbing properties. You will eat less during the meal. As a result, it shrinks the size of your tummy. Eventually, you will consume less food. Yet, there is no direct relationship between consumption of Isabgol and weight loss.
5. Downs Blood Sugar
People who suffer from high levels of sugar in the blood should take the help of Psyllium husk under the guidance of a healthcare expert. This is because people suffering from high blood sugar need to intake a diet that is rich in fibre. They can either do this by consuming whole cereals and fruits or depending on other natural sources like Psyllium husk. Consumption of soluble fibres helps in reducing rising levels of glucose in the blood. While most of the carbohydrates break down into sugar molecules, fibre does not even though being a carbohydrate. Dietary fibre passes through your system and maintains the required blood sugar levels. This helps control the condition of diabetes. What more, it even keeps you satiated for long. People have even found that it helps in reducing insulin as well. It is recommended to consume Psyllium husk with other meals rather in isolation.
6. Slashes Cholesterol
Isabgol helps reduce the levels of cholesterol in the body. When Isabgol excretes fat and bile acids from the body by binding to it, the liver tries to replace the lost bile acids. For this, the liver uses the cholesterol present in the body. Hence, levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) in the body reduce and that of good cholesterol shoots up (HDL).
7. It’s Prebiotic
Prebiotic Foods are quite good for health. They are responsible for the growth of good bacteria present in the large intestine. This helps in strengthening the immune system. And interestingly, Psyllium Husk is known to have the same effect. While prebiotic foods are those that can be fermented, Psyllium husk cannot be fermented easily. When consumed, it ferments gradually to produce the same effect as a prebiotic. The slow fermentation of Psyllium husk even helps in reducing the production of gas and other similar symptoms. Experts maintain that when Psyllium husk is consumed in a combination of probiotic food, it helps treat ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease in patients.
8. A Good Heart
Psyllium Husk is categorized as a functional fibre rather than a dietary one. This is because it is not consumed directly but added to your diet. Being soluble in water, Psyllium husk helps in reducing blood triglycerides. As it even helps manage cholesterol levels and reduce blood pressure, Psyllium husk is linked with good heart health. Further, when Psyllium husk is added to the diet of people suffering from heart ailments, it helps strengthen the muscles of the heart and even improve lipid levels. This helps in keeping cardiovascular diseases at bay.
9. Removes Toxins
Psyllium Husk is also helpful in flushing out toxins from your body. The ability of Psyllium husk to absorb the toxic fluids present in the digestive system is quite helpful. When it exits the body, the toxins are flushed out automatically. The toxins enter our system through some foods. If left unattended, they are absorbed in your bloodstream and result in ailments. For this, you need to consume Psyllium husk along with a glass of tepid water. When the toxins are flushed out, your skin starts glowing as well.
10. Gluten-free Diet
If you cannot tolerate gluten in your diet, then Psyllium husk can come to your rescue. It can be used to bake goods that are gluten-free. There are many recipes that can be prepared using Psyllium Husk. When used in food, Psyllium turns into a gel on the addition of water or any kind of moisture. Goods baked using Psyllium husk do not even become dry, a common problem faced while baking. This is because of its gel-forming properties. Cakes, pancakes, breads and even smoothies can be prepared using Psyllium Husk. While Psyllium husk is itself gluten-free, the supplements available on the shelf can have some amount of gluten. This is because Psyllium is a functional fibre and hence it is available in the form of supplements. To make a supplement effective, manufacturers might add wheat or other ingredients. Hence, it is required to read labels before purchasing Psyllium husk supplements.
A Word of Caution: Side Effects
Isabgol is not suitable for all bodies. People have experienced problems with its consumption.
1. Bloating or even increased flatulence
2. Lead to stomach cramps or cause gas
3. Result in obstructions in the gastrointestinal tract
4. Choke in the throat if you have difficulty in swallowing
5. Cause allergies in people who are intolerant
You need to consult your health expert or doctor before consuming Isabgol. The dosage and requirement need to be moderated. It is advised that Isabgol is consumed with liquid or any form of water for added benefits and prevention of problems.
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