Recognized for millennia for its health benefits, psyllium is a perennial herb native to India, with tiny seeds (1,000 seeds weigh less than 2 g), hence its name from the Greek psyllia, which means flea. The seeds can be black, brown or blond depending on the species. Like chia seeds, once in contact with a liquid, they produce a gel called mucilage.
The food industry uses blond psyllium as a thickener or stabilizer in some prepared foods, such as frozen desserts. It is also widely used to increase the soluble fiber content of several products, including breakfast cereals.
Psyllium is a natural laxative because the gel it forms helps to increase the volume of stool improving its transit and facilitating evacuation. The effect is also positive in cases of diarrhea, because psyllium helps to absorb excess water.
Research has shown positive effects of taking psyllium on cholesterol levels in people with hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol).
Research on patients with type 2 diabetes has shown that psyllium helps to lower blood sugar levels. In order to increase its benefits, it seems better to consume psyllium during meals, mixed with food.
Psyllium is sold in health food stores as granules (or husks) of dried or powdered seeds. It can also be found in capsules at the pharmacy.
Before starting to consume it, check whether there are any interactions with any medications you are taking. It is best to start with a small dose, making sure to accompany the consumption of psyllium with a good amount of water to avoid clogging the digestive tract.
You can integrate it into your diet by adding it to your smoothies, fruit compotes, cereals, soups.
Try these recipes of low-carb breads, which are using psyllium to increase their fiber content: