There are all kinds of supplements and other nutritional aids on the market, readily available to any of us looking to bolster or improve our overall health or to assist us in a particular area of need. And some of those needs are more urgent and unpredictable than others. Constipation or diarrhea come quickly to mind – and to “fruition” at the most inopportune times.
We’ve heard a lot about essential oils, essential minerals, and essential macronutrients, but let’s be frank about it – nothing is more essential than finding a fast-acting remedy in those desperate times when our bowels either aren’t cooperating at all or are going at it overzealously. There’s nothing silly about such moments, but there is something called psyllium that, believe it or not, can be of bodily assistance in either case.
What Is Psyllium?
Psyllium is a water-soluble fiber, meaning that it can readily absorb water and it has the capacity to be able to pass through our digestive system without being completely broken down or absorbed, per medicalnewstoday.com. That makes it a durable compound for performing certain functions in our body in a time of need, such as when we get constipated or get blindsided by diarrhea.
By binding to partially digested food while also helping with the absorption of water, psyllium, acting as a laxative, can work to increase the size and enhance the moisture of stools, while also stimulating peristaltic motion, per organicfacts.net, to keep your bowels operating smoothly and thus making stools easier to pass.
Not only is psyllium a bulk-forming laxative for relieving constipation, it can “switch over” and put the brakes to diarrhea by increasing stool thickness and slowing down its passage through the colon. A study cited at medicalnewstoday.com involving eight test subjects with lactulose-induced diarrhea found that when given 3.5 grams of psyllium three times a day saw their stomach-emptying time increased by 18 minutes, meaning fewer bowel movements.
Where Does Psyllium Come From?
Per healthline.com, psyllium, which also goes by the name ispaghula, is a fiber extracted from the husks from the seeds that come from a plant known as Plantago ovata, which can be found in Asia and India. These seeds, per organicfacts.net, can be converted into mucilage, the natural dietary fiber. While the plants grow mostly in Asia, it is India that takes the lead min producing and exporting psyllium.
Other Possible Health Benefits
Psyllium, like many compounds sold as nutritional aids, has a variety of uses and possible health-related benefits, to also include the following:
- Reduce cholesterol. That is, psyllium reduces “bad” cholesterol because, as a fiber, it reduces the quantity of cholesterol absorbed from food.
- Blood-sugar levels. It possibly works to maintain healthy blood-sugar levels by controlling the release of insulin into the bloodstream.
- Weight loss. As a dietary fiber, its ingestion during a meal can give us a fuller feeling that lasts longer and therefore diminishes our appetite.
- Healthy blood pressure. Psyllium’s nature as a fiber also is in play here, as it has been shown to consistently reduce blood pressure in those who ingest it regularly, per organicfacts.net.
- Acts as a prebiotic. Per medicalnewstoday.com, psyllium is thought to have prebiotic effects as it is a non-digestible compound aids in the growth of intestinal bacteria by providing nourishment. The fermentation of psyllium by the bacteria can manufacture short-chain fatty acids that might enhance heart-related functions.
- Detoxify the body. It can help cleanse the gastrointestinal system and enhance overall gut health.