If you’ve ever explored the world of intermittent fasting (IF), you’ve likely encountered numerous questions and uncertainties about what can be consumed during the fasting period.
It’s crucial to understand the essence of intermittent fasting itself. Intermittent fasting isn’t just a dieting trend; it’s a lifestyle choice many embrace for its potential health benefits. Characterized by alternating cycles of fasting and eating, this approach has gained immense popularity for its effectiveness in weight management, improved metabolic health, and enhanced overall well-being.
As the IF community expands, so does the curiosity about various supplements and their compatibility with this fasting regimen. One such supplement that has piqued interest is psyllium husk, renowned for its multifaceted uses in dietary supplements.
But does psyllium husk break intermittent fasting? Let’s find out
What Is Psyllium Husk?
Psyllium husk, a soluble fiber that comes from Plantago ovata seeds, is well known for its many uses and exceptional health advantages.
Originating from the plant native to Western Asia, the husk is extracted from the seed’s outer covering, creating a fine powder that has gained prominence in the health and wellness industry.
The term “psyllium” is derived from the Greek word “psylla,” which translates to “flea,” referencing the small size of the plant’s seeds. Harvested primarily in countries like India, Pakistan, and Iran, psyllium husk has been used for centuries in traditional medicine for its therapeutic properties, particularly in digestive health.
Additionally, it can be incorporated into various recipes and beverages to increase dietary fiber intake. It can be consumed as part of a balanced diet and is generally considered safe for most people.
Nutritional Value Of Psyllium Husk
Psyllium Husk is a rich source of soluble fiber, containing a unique blend of complex carbohydrates, proteins, and other beneficial compounds. A 100g of psyllium husk powder includes 67g of soluble fiber, 11g of insoluble fiber, iron, potassium, and sodium. The soluble fiber content in psyllium husk, primarily composed of hemicellulose, lignin, and mucilage, contributes to its exceptional health benefits1,2.
When ingested, psyllium husk absorbs water and forms a gel-like substance in the digestive tract, aiding in softening stools and promoting regular bowel movements. This process is particularly helpful for individuals struggling with constipation or other digestive issues.
Health Benefits Of Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk has been linked to various health benefits, making it a valuable addition to your dietary routine. Let’s explore some of the key advantages it offers:
Using psyllium husks offers many advantages, with its high soluble fiber content being the standout feature. Individuals diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Crohn’s disease are well-acquainted with the challenges of irregular bowel movements.
This natural supplement enhances your digestive system, promoting regular bowel movements and ensuring smooth functioning3. What sets psyllium husk apart is its gentleness on your stomach; unlike certain fruits and vegetables, it rarely triggers uncomfortable gas or bloating issues, making it a preferred choice for many4.
Furthermore, psyllium husk serves as an essential prebiotic, fostering a welcoming environment within your gut for the growth of beneficial microorganisms5.
By incorporating more prebiotics into your diet, you actively contribute to the well-being of your gut, supporting the growth of probiotics and aiding the effectiveness of digestive enzymes.
Aids in Weight Loss
Ensuring you maintain a healthy weight is a common worry, particularly if you have a chronic condition such as diabetes. Not only is psyllium beneficial for your heart and blood sugar control, but it might also aid in your weight loss journey.
Its low-calorie content ensures you won’t experience weight gain; instead, it enhances your feelings of fullness, curbing hunger and reducing the temptation to snack. Incorporating psyllium husk into your routine will help you stay satisfied for extended periods, as the fiber effectively fills your stomach6.
Moreover, taking psyllium husk aids in controlling your bowel movements and preventing bloating, ensuring you feel more at ease while engaging in physical activities.
Helps Control Blood Sugar Levels
By incorporating psyllium fiber into your diet, your digestion process will naturally decelerate. This deliberate slowdown means the food you consume has more time to be absorbed, consequently reducing the speed at which glucose (sugar) enters your bloodstream.
A comprehensive analysis of 35 studies revealed that a daily intake of 5 to 20 grams of psyllium husk significantly lowered fasting blood sugar and HbA1C levels in individuals dealing with prediabetes and diabetes7.
Possible Side Effects Of Psyllium Husk
Since psyllium enhances intestinal bulk and acts as a laxative, it’s essential to be aware of potential adverse effects. You might be at a higher risk of experiencing side effects, particularly if you’re new to psyllium or if you exceed the recommended daily dosage.
Potential side effects include:
- Increased frequency of bowel movements
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Nausea and vomiting
- Stomach pain
If you experience severe side effects from using psyllium husk, immediately call your healthcare provider.
Does Psyllium Husk Break Intermittent Fasting?
Psyllium husk, with its rich fiber content, does not break a fast as it is low in calories and does not cause an insulin spike. Contrary to breaking a fast, psyllium husk fiber can be a valuable ally in your fasting journey.
As mentioned, one of the critical benefits of psyllium husk is its ability to make you feel fuller for longer periods. By slowing down digestion and expanding in your stomach, psyllium husk helps control your appetite, reducing the temptation to overeat. This feeling of fullness not only aids in curbing calorie intake but also supports your weight loss goals during intermittent fasting.
Additionally, the soluble fiber in psyllium husk plays a crucial role in maintaining a stable blood sugar level. By delaying the absorption of nutrients, including glucose, into your bloodstream, it prevents rapid spikes and crashes, ensuring your energy levels remain stable throughout the fasting period. This steadiness in blood sugar levels is fundamental to the essence of intermittent fasting, as it helps avoid abrupt interruptions in the fasting state.
Furthermore, psyllium husk’s ability to promote bowel regularity and prevent bloating is conducive to maintaining your comfort, especially during periods of physical activity, ensuring you can engage in exercises without any hindrance.
By opting for this natural fiber supplement, you can harness its benefits without compromising your fasting efforts, making it a valuable addition to your fasting routine.
How To Take Psyllium Husk While Fasting?
While consuming psyllium husk is acceptable during fasting, there are specific insights you need to consider to avoid breaking your fast:
1. Avoid psyllium husk supplements with added sugars.
Opt for a psyllium husk supplement free from added sugars or artificial sweeteners, as these additives can elevate your blood sugar levels and break a fast.
Psyllium is readily available in various forms, including tablets and capsules, and you can easily find psyllium husk products at local grocery and health food stores. Additionally, psyllium is a common ingredient in several over-the-counter laxative medications.
If you opt for over-the-counter medications containing psyllium, it’s crucial to monitor the quantity and frequency of your intake. Taking excessive amounts could lead to dehydration, as psyllium functions by absorbing excess liquids in your lower intestines. Therefore, it’s essential to use these medications cautiously to maintain proper hydration levels.
2. Stay hydrated.
Psyllium husk absorbs water and expands in your stomach, which may lead to constipation and discomfort if you’re not adequately hydrated. Aim to consume a minimum of eight glasses of water daily when incorporating psyllium husk into your routine.
Whenever you are doing intermittent fasting methods or following a different diet routine, it is advisable to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
3. Begin with smaller doses.
Start with smaller doses of psyllium husk powder and gradually increase the amount over time. Starting with a modest quantity allows your body to acclimate to the fiber, reducing the likelihood of digestive discomfort as you adjust to the supplement.
1 Popoola-Akinola OO, Raji TJ, Olawoye B. Lignocellulose, dietary fibre, inulin and their potential application in food. Heliyon. 2022 Aug 29;8(8):e10459. doi: 10.1016/j.heliyon.2022.e10459. PMID: 36090233; PMCID: PMC9449745.
3 Lambeau KV, McRorie JW Jr. Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: How to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2017 Apr;29(4):216-223. doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12447. Epub 2017 Mar 2. PMID: 28252255; PMCID: PMC5413815.
5 Jalanka J, Major G, Murray K, Singh G, Nowak A, Kurtz C, Silos-Santiago I, Johnston JM, de Vos WM, Spiller R. The Effect of Psyllium Husk on Intestinal Microbiota in Constipated Patients and Healthy Controls. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Jan 20;20(2):433. doi: 10.3390/ijms20020433. PMID: 30669509; PMCID: PMC6358997.
7 Giuntini, E.B.; Sardá, F.A.H.; de Menezes, E.W. The Effects of Soluble Dietary Fibers on Glycemic Response: An Overview and Futures Perspectives. Foods 2022, 11, 3934. https://doi.org/10.3390/foods11233934