By Dr. Divya Mandial | 10th Jan 2023
Psyllium husk, scientifically known as Plantago ovata is the most common laxative used to soften stool and relieve constipation. It is an abundant source of both soluble and insoluble fibre. The soluble fibre in psyllium is almost eight times more than that of oat bran. Besides digestive health, this low-calorie dietary fibre is known to exhibit multiple health benefits for which it is highly recommended to be included in daily diet.
In India, psyllium husk is famous for the common name of Isabgol. It is often consumed in the form of powder with water to relieve constipation. Besides, it is also used for food preparations in breakfast cereals, biscuits, bread, and bakery products. It is also blended in shakes, juices, yoghurt, syrups, soups, and even in ice creams to increase the fibre content of the food. It is also incorporated in drinks or frozen desserts as a thickening agent. Overall, it’s a healthy supplement to fill the fibre gap in the diet with additional health benefits.
The dietary fibre in psyllium husk is derived from the husks of blonde psyllium seed. Further, the husk is the outermost covering of the psyllium seed, which is removed by a mechanical process. Husk additionally consists of proteins, polysaccharides, glycosides, vitamin B1, and choline. The high fibre content in isabgol is mainly composed of hemicellulose. Hemicellulose is a complex indigestible polysaccharide found in grains, vegetables, and fruits. However, it is partially digested in the colon part, which nourishes intestinal flora.
The shelf life of psyllium husk is a maximum of 6 months in ordinary and traditional storage conditions.
Isabgol is a powerful source of dietary fibre and proteins. The nutritional value of 100g of Isabgol is as follows:
Based on its nutritional value, the psyllium husk powder offers the following health benefits:
One potential isabgol use includes lowering blood glucose levels in people with diabetes. During digestion, psyllium husk forms a viscous gel in the stomach that increases chyme viscosity. Chyme is the semi-digested food in the stomach. The increased viscosity of chime slows down the interactions of digestive enzymes with complex carbohydrates, thereby decelerating the rate of digestion. This also slows down glucose absorption and effectively reduces blood glucose levels. Therefore, isabgol lowers the glycemic index of ingested food which is good for managing the blood glucose levels in patients with Type 2 diabetes and those at risk of developing diabetes.
Several studies demonstrate that supplementation with isabgol can lower LDL cholesterol or bad cholesterol level, reduce hypertension, Body mass index (BMI), and certainly lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Besides managing diabetes and heart health, isabgol also extends its benefits for weight loss and maintaining a healthy weight. Incorporating isabgol in your diet will slow down the digestion process, increase satiety and control your appetite for long hours, which will eventually help you in healthily shedding pounds.
According to one study, the modified samples of the bread dough with psyllium showed a 93.0% acceptance rate for individuals with celiac disease and up to 97.0% acceptance for individuals without celiac disease.
This provides individuals with celiac disease an alternative to gluten in their dietary preparations.1 Besides, including psyllium husk in your diet also cuts extra fat and calories from your meals.
This is a misconception that all kinds of fibres help relieve constipation. While the scientific shreds of evidence do not support such myths. The fibres present in wheat dextrin and finely ground wheat bran add only to the dry mass of stool, a stool-hardening effect that can be constipating.
While the fibres present in psyllium husk are non-fermented gel-forming fibres that assist in retaining water throughout the large bowel to prevent dehydration from the stool.
Besides relieving constipation, isabgol also helps to relieve diarrhoea by increasing the number of normal stools and decreasing the number of liquid stools. Psyllium husk powder in the stomach delays gastric emptying by increasing the chyme viscosity and slowing down the passage through the intestine. Psyllium husk combined with calcium is a cheap and effective alternative to reduce the duration and severity of chronic diarrhoea.
IBS is a common gastrointestinal tract disorder recognised by cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, gas, diarrhoea, constipation, or both. There is a lot of clinical evidence that supports psyllium husk powder to normalise stool form and reduce symptoms in patients with IBS.
It is also a better option over the coarse wheat barn to treat IBS symptoms with a high recovery rate.
Many people do not show any side effects of isabgol. But since psyllium husk creates intestinal bulk and demonstrates laxative effects, it may pose adverse side effects. You are susceptible to these side effects if you are new to psyllium husk or have consumed more than the recommended daily dose.
Some possible side effects include:
Therefore, it is recommended to consult your doctor in case of an allergic reaction and also for the appropriate dosage of psyllium husk to avoid any severity.
Psyllium husk is one of the best dietary supplements so far for gastrointestinal tract health as well as to fulfil the fibre gap in our diet. The usage of psyllium husk is not only limited to treating constipation and diarrhoea. But it also offers health benefits in managing diabetes, weight loss, obesity, high blood pressure, and even heart conditions. If you are suffering from any of these chronic conditions, you can include psyllium husk in your diet to achieve the targeted body parameters.
Check out the Isabgol available in top brands on Truemeds. Don’t forget to take your doctor’s advice if you are allergic to isabgol. You can also avail a free teleconsultation from our dedicated team of doctors on our online pharmacy – Truemeds to get the best medicines at the cheapest price. You can also upload your prescription on Truemeds to get recommended branded and generic medicines. Save up to 72% on your every purchase and get your medicines at your doorsteps free of cost.
Disclaimer: The information given in this article is true to our best knowledge. Still, we will recommend that you consult your healthcare professional to avoid the risk of any allergic reaction or severe side effects due to isabgol.
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