Fiber Vibes

Is Psyllium Husk Good for You?

Americans suffer from a severe lack of fiber in their diets. Supplements like pysllium husk offer a digestive lifeboat, but not without their own risks.

By Isaac Eger February 23, 2023

There’s a serious health epidemic affecting over 95 percent of Americans, but it doesn’t require the pharmaceutical industry or a trillion-dollar government stimulus to solve it. We just need to eat more fiber.

According to the Institute of Medicine, a mere 5 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of daily fiber in their diets— 25 grams for women and 38 grams for men. Instead, the average American get just 16 grams per day. That’s because American diets are comprised largely of highly processed foods with little to no fiber. This is referred to as the “fiber gap,” and nutritionists say it’s wreaking havoc on our overall health. 

The consequences of being fiber deficient are many, and the more we learn about how our gut’s microbiome works, the more we realize how important fiber is. Low fiber diets can cause constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, strokes, hemorrhoids, heart disease, diverticulitis, obesity and even bowel cancer.

However, diets high in fiber show marked improvements in overall health. Fiber can improve heart health and lower cholesterol and inflammation. It can also help you lose weight by slowing the absorption of glucose. That means when you eat something high in carbs, combining it with fiber will reduce the spike to your insulin and won’t turn it into fat. Fiber truly is a health marvel—and it can be added to your diet at barely any cost. 

I decided to increase my fiber intake by adding psyllium husk to my daily routine. That’s right, Metamucil isn’t just for Grandma anymore. Psyllium husk is a water-soluble, gel-forming supplement from the Plantago ovata plant. When its gel-coated seeds mix with water, it forms a soluble fiber that creates a paste in your stomach. While it makes its way through your stomach, psyllium husk can lower cholesterol, improve heart health and help regulate blood sugar levels. It can also do wonders for your bowel movements. If your stool is hard, it will soften it. If your stool is loose, psyllium husk’s water-absorbing capacity can add form. 

Tough guy that I am, I chose to try for psyllium husk in its raw form. It looks like the wood shavings you might line your hamster’s cage with. There are many brands, and they cost about $20 for 12 to 16 ounces. I'd recommend checking out publications like ConsumerLab or other groups that test supplements for purity when picking one.  One tablespoon of psyllium husk has about 9 grams of fiber—and not just one type. There are dietary, soluble and insoluble fibers, all of which serve different functions for the well-being of your gut. 

There are instructions in bold on the container: “Stir briskly into at least 8 ounces of liquid.” Bold type usually mans something is important, and this is no exception.

You must drink psyllium husk with lots of water. Because of its water-absorbing qualities, if you take the fiber without enough liquids, you run the risk of constipation, gas, bloating and, in rare cases, vomiting, severe stomach pain and rectal bleeding. My suggestion is drink more water than recommended and start slowly to let your body get accustomed. 

Psyllium husk doesn’t taste bad. The texture is a little jolting the first time you try it, but after a few months of taking the supplement everyday, I can attest to its benefits.  (I won't get into the gory details.) Best of all, by taking it two to three times daily I have added between 20 to 30 extra grams of fiber to my daily diet. So I'm just half a cup of beans away from my recommended amount of daily fiber.

Filed under
Show Comments