Psyllium is commonly known for its benefits as a dietary fiber. Mainly found to be growing in India, this soluble fiber is obtained from the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata.
It is commonly used as a bulk-forming, gentle laxative.
It also has the ability to pass through the digestive system without being completely absorbed or broken down. It has various advantages over the other types of soluble fibersas it is less readily fermented.
Apart from these benefits, it also plays a role in the regulation of bowels and also helps with the metabolic syndrome. It helps those suffering from inflammatory bowel syndrome as it contains antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties.
It prevents the onset of inflammation and irritation. It improves gastrointestinal symptoms in such patients. Psyllium husk can also be a boon for those trying hard to lose weight.
Psyllium husk can not only help achieve weight loss goals; it also deals with the risk factors associated with weight gain.
Nowadays, some weight loss supplements are available in the market. However, all of them may or may not benefit the entire body. Psyllium husk is also good for those suffering from high cholesterol, obesity, and high blood sugar levels.
To know more, read on!
6 Benefits of Psyllium Husk in Weight Loss and Obesity
There are many scientific pieces of evidence that identify how psyllium husk improves metabolic health and subsequently causes weight loss.
1. Psyllium Husk is a great source of dietary fiber
All those struggling with those extra pounds have one factor in common: high levels of fat in their body or obesity. Psyllium husk has been found to have significant effects on obesity and body weight.
Since insulin resistance, obesity, glucose intolerance and related health issues are very commonly observed nowadays in adolescents in developed countries, there is a need to save the future of these children and improve their health.
According to a review, supplementation of psyllium husk helps in the improvement of lipoprotein as well as lipid profile, and also, glucose homeostasis. Snack foods, pasta, and breakfast cereals could easily be supplemented with psyllium husk to derive such benefits.
As compared to simple sugars and dietary polysaccharides, dietary fibers have been found to induce greater satiety. Psyllium husk also has a gelling property, and it increases insulin sensitivity as well as insulin release and a better glycemic control, which are common issues with obese patients.
What does this mean?
Psyllium husk contains dietary fiber which aids insulin resistance, enhances glycemic control and helps with obesity.
2. Psyllium Husk helps control appetite
The most difficult task while following a weight loss program is preventing binge-eating. Psyllium husk helps in the provision of satiety and good control over appetite.
It contributes to the reduction of fat intake. It increases and prolongs the feeling of fullness at 1-hour post meal.
According to a study published in the “International Journal of Food Sciences and Nutrition” in 1997, when psyllium husk was incorporated into the breakfast of a few healthy subjects, they did not feel as hungry, and the consumption of snacks was comparatively less.
Appetite suppression was also observed.
What does this mean?
Psyllium husk helps in curbing the appetite without affecting the energy levels thereby easing the weight loss process.
3. Psyllium Husk benefits in dyslipidemia
Abnormal lipid profiles are again, very common for those who fight obesity and wish to gain control over their increasing weight.
An animal study published in the “Journal of Nutrition” in 1995 reported that the consumption of a diet supplemented with Plantago ovata prevented a number of abnormalities linked to hypertension, dyslipidemia, and obesity.
Dietary Plantago ovata caused loss of body weight. It also improved the triglyceride, blood sugar, total cholesterol, glucose, and insulin levels in the body.
What does this mean?
Psyllium husk helps in the improvement of the lipid profile, helping in the decrease of the excess fat in the body, thereby promoting weight loss.
4. Psyllium Husk can benefit in metabolic syndrome and help lose weight
Metabolic syndrome, also called diabetes, is closely linked to obesity. It causes the abdominal fat (visceral fat) to pile on which renders maximum damage to the vital organs of the body, most of which are placed in the abdomen.
Metabolic syndrome can affect cardiovascular health and also result in atherosclerosis. For these reasons, dealing with diabetes also becomes a very crucial factor in the process of weight loss.
A study showed that the supplementation of diets with psyllium husk for 6 weeks improved lipid profile, fat distribution and hence, a lower risk for diabetes as well as obesity.
When individuals with type-2 diabetes as well as high cholesterol levels received psyllium twice a day for eight weeks, the glucose and lipid values improved. The glycemic control also improved as psyllium was well tolerated.
A study published in “The Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology” in 2010 reported that psyllium husk could reduce the risk of heart disease. This effect is observed because of fermentability, viscosity and the solubility in water.
When diabetic patients consumed psyllium husk with meals, the improvement was observed in liver and serum cholesterol, postprandial insulin and glucose concentrations, hypertension and the reduction of body weight as well.
Another animal study suggested of the effects of psyllium husk such as the reduction of hyperinsulinemia, hyperlipidemia, and hyperleptinemia (which is a high concentration of leptin in the body, which disturbs the appetite control). It can also play an important role in the treatment of the metabolic syndrome.
Psyllium husk also can decrease glycosylated hemoglobin and serum glucose in diabetic patients, if taken for a period of 8 weeks. The dose was 5.1g, twice a day. Metformin is a drug taken by diabetes patients to keep their insulin and blood glucose levels in check.
Consumption of psyllium husk also improved the gastric tolerance towards metformin. It was well tolerated and enhanced glycemic control as well.
Another study was indicative of the fact the psyllium husk could be used as an adjunct to the therapy taken by diabetes patients as it improved plasma glucose and plasma lipid levels when taken twice daily (5g each time).
Triglycerides, LDL, and total cholesterol also reduced.
In the case of obese and overweight individuals, when dietary fiber was taken in the form of psyllium husk for a period of 12 weeks, there was a reduction in insulin and triglycerides. This could provide protection from all the risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome.
What does this mean?
Plantago ovata or psyllium husks controls insulin and glucose levels, can be used as an adjunct to the dietary therapy for diabetes and also reduces the risk factors associated with the metabolic syndrome, thereby helping lose excess pounds at a smooth pace.
5. Psyllium Husk reduces cholesterol levels in obesity
When the bad cholesterol accumulates in the arteries in the form of the plaque, it can lead to atherosclerosis. High cholesterol levels and an abnormal lipid profile raise the chances of the occurrence of stroke and hinder the weight loss process.
A study published in “The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition” in 1992 reported that when animals were administered with psyllium, changes such as decreased serum cholesterol levels were observed after one month’s time.
LDL and VLDL values were also reduced. Aortic atherosclerosis was also lowered. When subjects consumed 3.5 g of psyllium husk thrice a day at weekly intervals, a reduction was seen in the total cholesterol and LDL values.
However, the good cholesterol (HDL) values remained the same.
An analysis of 8 studies showed that psyllium husk had hypocholesterolemic effects. The time for which it was taken was up to 8 weeks and the dose was 10.2 g per day. It lowered the total cholesterol and LDL. It also delays the absorption of lipids, thereby helping with the treatment of mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia.
Psyllium fiber supplementation also lowers the serum cholesterol regardless of the saturation level of dietary fat.
Psyllium husk also helps decrease the fat digestibility and increases the fecal palmitic acid excretion (which is a type of fat).
This explains why diets are supplemented with psyllium husk has a hypocholesterolemic effect on the patients suffering from high levels of cholesterol.
What does this mean?
Psyllium husk helps in lowering the cholesterol levels that prevent diseases like atherosclerosis and keeping the heart healthy, helping in weight loss.
6. Psyllium Husk contains antioxidants that help burn fat
When fat is broken down by the body, at that time, free radicals can be released as a normal metabolism of the body. Free radicals have unpaired electrons and they aim to balance themselves by obtaining electrons.
The source of these electrons can be the membranes of the cells in our body as well. Hence these radicals are capable of rendering significant damage to our body. Which, is basically what the antioxidants prevent. They are substances which prevent the oxidation of other molecules by neutralizing the free radicals.
If the fat cells of the body hold toxins in them, in the form of free radicals, then the body does not allow to break the fat down. This is a defense mechanism- as when the fat is broken down, there might be a surge of toxins in the body.
This might result in a weight loss plateau. However, psyllium husk contains antioxidants which prevent any inhibition that may occur while the breaking down of fat.
What does this mean?
Psyllium husk promotes weight loss due to the presence of antioxidants, by easing the process of the breaking down of fat.
Dosage of Psyllium Husk For Weight Loss
One can take up to 5g of psyllium husk twice a day, along with meals. However, the dose of 20g should not be exceeded.
Psyllium husk can be added to breakfast cereals, bread and mixed with water or milk as and when required.
Precautions while taking psyllium husk
Usually, Psyllium is well tolerated by patients and no side effects, such as flatulence is observed.
However, since it can form the bulk of the stool, it might result in cramping. Handling of psyllium also may result in side effects such as asthma. When inhaled, it can also result in breathing problems.
Psyllium husk can help with weight loss by taking care of the base of the problem. It can not only deal with obesity, but also diabetes and cholesterol. It is easily available and easy to incorporate into the diet.
However, one must refrain from overuse as it may result in an allergic reaction or gastrointestinal trouble.