Taking care of your digestive health is one of the most crucial components of staying healthy. Diet is, of course, an important part of this. Fortunately, there are numerous supplements you can add to maximize your diet without potential weight gain.
You may have heard of how intermittent fasting manages weight and its other health benefits. It focuses more on when you can eat rather than what you eat.
What you might not be familiar with is psyllium husk and what it can do when it is part of your intermittent fasting diet. This supplement is a natural source of soluble fiber, which is known to maintain healthy weight and contribute to other benefits.
To better understand how psyllium husk enhances intermittent fasting, continue reading the article below.
What Is Psyllium Husk?
Psyllium is a type of fiber that functions as a laxative that is mild and bulk building. Psyllium, like other soluble fibers, travels through the small intestine without being broken down or absorbed fully. Instead, it absorbs water and forms a viscous molecule that aids in constipation, diarrhea, blood sugar control, blood pressure, cholesterol control, and weight loss1.
Psyllium is highly nutritious that people can take it as a dietary supplement. It is available in husk, granules, capsules, and powder form. Psyllium can also be added to breakfast cereals and baked goods by manufacturers. Metamucil, a fiber supplement that relieves constipation, contains the major active component of psyllium husk.
Benefits Of Psyllium Husk
According to research2, the husk is completely safe to use in functional and nutraceutical meals. Because of the accompanying health claims, the FDA has allowed the use of psyllium husk in food items. Fiber supplements are popular among customers because of their enticing taste and improved storage stability.
Some of the benefits of psyllium husk are:
- Psyllium helps to relieve constipation
- As stated above, psyllium is a bulk forming laxative. It works by softening stool3 and assisting with constipation relief. It begins by adhering to partially digested food as it passes from the stomach into the small intestine.
- It then aids in water absorption, increasing the size and wetness of feces. The ultimate result is larger, easier-to-pass stools. For these reasons, taking psyllium supplements enhances bowel regularity.
- Psyllium can lower high cholesterol
- Psyllium, a soluble fiber derived from the husk of the Plantago ovata seed, is one of the most commonly used supplemental fibers due to its recognition for cholesterol-lowering effects by major government and health agencies. In a systematic review and meta-analysis based on 17 clinical trials, it was discovered that psyllium fiber reduced LDL cholesterol4.
- Psyllium improves heart health
- As per the study mentioned prior, psyllium husk helps lower LDL cholesterol levels as well as two other lipid markers for heart disease.
- It was discovered that a daily dose of roughly 10 grams of psyllium husk had reduced bad LDL cholesterol by 13 mg/dL when taken for at least three weeks. It also caused a decline in non-HDL cholesterol (which includes LDL and other dangerous lipoprotein particles) and ApoB (which is a substance found in many lipid particles). ApoB is considered by some experts to be an even better predictor of heart disease than LDL or non-HDL5.
- Psyllium lowers blood sugar
- Water-soluble dietary fibers lower postprandial hyperglycemia and blood cholesterol levels. In a study6 conducted to 34 men, those who were separated into the psyllium group demonstrated significant improvements in glucose and cholesterol readings in the metabolic ward.
- The psyllium group had lower postprandial glucose concentrations throughout the day and after lunch than the other group. Psyllium supplementation to a typical diet for diabetics is safe, well tolerated, and improves glycemic and lipid control.
- Psyllium husk helps in weight management
- Psyllium, a soluble viscous fiber, can slow gastric emptying and slow the rate of absorption of fat and glucose, exposing more distal parts of the small intestine to these energy-yielding nutrients and leading to a longer feeling of fullness7. Because of this, psyllium may keep you from overeating.
- Psyllium can treat irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
- Fiber supplementation, particularly psyllium, has been shown to be both safe and helpful in alleviating IBS symptoms worldwide. Dietary fiber appears to help the overall symptoms of IBS, including abdominal discomfort/pain, abdominal bloating/distension, and disturbed bowel habit, most likely by influencing the neuroendocrine system8.
How Psyllium Husk Enhances Intermittent Fasting
If you follow an intermittent fasting diet and you are new to it, part of the challenge is to get by your fasting window without the constant hunger pangs. Psyllium, as a source of soluble fiber, slows your digestion. This allows your body to absorb more nutrients from your food as it passes through the stomach and intestines, which increases the feeling of fullness.
Consuming psyllium while on your eating window can prolong the chances of hunger when you return to your fasting state. There is also a study remarking that psyllium husk sustains weight loss9.
The study demonstrated that participants given psyllium husk powder lost 3.3 kg over a 6-month period.
You can also improve your gut health by intermittent fasting and using fiber supplements during your meal window. Taking a psyllium husk supplement can help with “damage control” from the possible blood sugar and insulin spike when you break your fast.
Does Psyllium Husk Break a Fast?
If your aim with intermittent fasting is to increase gut health and motility, then fiber will help you do that. To stimulate the migrating motor complex (gut-cleansing system) and sweep out the left-over food and germs that cause bloating, complete abstention from meals and drinks is essential.
Since a general fasting time lasts for eight hours or more, it aids migrating motor complex since it takes three hours between meals to be able to complete a full cycle– improving your digestion. Fiber then contributes to a healthier gut by helping waste move smoothly through your body.
However, if you do intermittent fasting and are wondering if you can consume them while on your fasting window, then the answer is complicated. Others may say yes and there are those that disagree.
Technically, anything with calories breaks a fast. But, depending on how stringent you are about your fast, you may take psyllium if you’re having trouble making it through your fast due to hunger pangs. It will also help you fast longer.
You may also include psyllium if you practice alternate-day fasting and the 5:2 method. For these types of fasts, you only consume a reduced number of calories on fasting days.
Uses Of Psyllium Husk
Psyllium is available in powder, granules, capsules, liquid, and wafer form for oral use. It is normally taken one to three times each day.
Follow the instructions on the packaging or on your prescription label exactly, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you don’t understand. Psyllium should be taken exactly as advised. Do not take more or less of it, or take it more frequently than your doctor has suggested.
Before using, combine the powder and granules with 8 ounces (240 milliliters) of a pleasant-tasting beverage, such as fruit juice. Wafers should be chewed completely. You must drink at least 8 ounces (240 milliliters) of liquid when taking psyllium for it to operate correctly and to avoid negative effects10.
Side Effects Of Psyllium Husk
Psyllium has the potential to create adverse effects. Call your doctor right away if you develop any of the following symptoms:
- breathing difficulty
- discomfort in the stomach
- swallowing problems
- rashes on the skin
Precautions To Follow
Before beginning to take psyllium, be mindful of the following:
- If you are allergic to psyllium or any other medications, inform your doctor and pharmacist.
- Inform your doctor and pharmacist about all prescription and nonprescription medications, including vitamins, that you are taking. Within 3 hours of using psyllium, avoid taking digoxin (Lanoxin), salicylates (aspirin), or nitrofurantoin (Macrodantin, Furadantin, Macrobid).
- Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, kidney disease, rectal bleeding, intestinal blockage, or swallowing trouble.
- Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding a child. Contact your doctor if you become pregnant while using psyllium.
- If you are on a low-sugar or low-sodium diet, tell your pharmacist or doctor.
- When preparing a dose, take care not to breathe in psyllium powder. When inhaled unintentionally, it may induce allergic reactions.
Incorporating psyllium husk supplements into your diet can enhance intermittent fasting for weight loss by increasing your feelings of fullness, preventing you from overeating. Over indulging in calories is one of the main causes of weight gain and so the less you’re eating, the more likely you are to lose weight.
Psyllium husk has a number of potential health benefits thanks to its high fiber content and can be taken in a variety of forms. The benefits of dietary fiber are greatest when consumed as part of a meal. It is then best to consume psyllium husk just before or with your meals.
Only take the recommended dosage of psyllium, and be sure you drink at least the water or liquid required for that dosage. Always start with the smallest amount to allow your digestive system time to adjust to the higher fiber intake.
Lastly, talk to your healthcare provider about any supplements you’re interested in before taking them.
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.
4 Jovanovski, E., Yashpal, S., Komishon, A., Zurbau, A., Blanco Mejia, S., Ho, H. V. T., Li, D., Sievenpiper, J., Duvnjak, L., & Vuksan, V. (2018, September 15). Effect of psyllium (Plantago ovata) fiber on LDL cholesterol and alternative lipid targets, non-HDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 108(5), 922–932. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/nqy115
5 Harvard Health. (n.d.). Psyllium fiber: Regularity and healthier lipid levels? Retrieved October 7, 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/psyllium-fiber-regularity-and-healthier-lipid-levels
6 Anderson, J. W., Allgood, L. D., Turner, J., Oeltgen, P. R., & Daggy, B. P. (1999). Effects of psyllium on glucose and serum lipid responses in men with type 2 diabetes and hypercholesterolemia. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 70(4), 466–473. https://doi.org/10.1093/ajcn/70.4.466
8 El-Salhy, M., Ystad, S. O., Mazzawi, T., & Gundersen, D. (2017). Dietary fiber in irritable bowel syndrome (Review). International journal of molecular medicine, 40(3), 607–613. https://doi.org/10.3892/ijmm.2017.3072
9 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.