Biomedical

Does Psyllium work? Health benefits and studies.

Recently i discovered Psyllium through Hank Green’s YouTube channel and Chris D’Elia on the H3 podcast. They both talked about using Metamucil, which is a supplement, whose active ingredient is Psyllium. It claims to offer Digestive Health, Cholesterol, Blood Sugar, and Appetite Control.

But is it true? Does it really work?

Let’s start by what it is. It is a plant whose contents are extracted to be used as Psyllium. And that’s because Psyllium is used as a dietary fiber to relieve constipation, diarrhea and control appetite and cholesterol. It is a plant easy to make and produce and it offers great benefits especially if you have problems with constipation.

And yes this is true. I started looking for articles supporting the claims of Metamucil and then tied to find if it causes any side effects or if it is toxic in large doses. It ends up being completely safe, since it is a fiber, it is natural and it doesn’t get a chance to affect cells outside your digestive tract. But it does affect your whole body through regulating your food intake. First of all it makes you feel fuller, then if you eat it makes sure to keep bad lipids away from your cells to not be absorbed and rather simply secreted immediately and then it has some interesting effects on your cells.

It has been shown to increase cytoprotective heat-shock protein 25 which is thought to protect cellular structures. Additionally it activates other pathways that protect cells from stress and prevent intestinal inflammatory diseases. Although i didn’t find any evidence for it, i would be surprised if a study showed that Psyllium also helps with microbiome health, since this usually happens with increased intake of fiber in the diet.

Studies also support the claims that bad LDL cholesterol and apolipoprotein B are reduced due to the consumption of Psyllium and thus there is a reduced CVD risk. This may also help with diabetics.

Some try to create fibers with similar effects and others try to add them to foods we consume regularly like bread. It seems good, even for people who cannot consume gluten since there is not much gluten in Psyllium itself, if combined with gluten free products could end up useful for everyone.

In general it seems great. It won’t cure cancer but it certainly helps. It does a good job as a functional food and it would be great to add it to products we consume everyday to increase their nutritional value.

But let me know if you agree or disagree, if you have used it or anything in the comments. And for more science and tech news follow Qul Mind.

Sources: Modelling the effects of psyllium and water in gluten-free bread: An approach to improve the bread quality and glycemic response
Microwave assisted synthesis of binary grafted psyllium and its utility in anticancer formulation
Psyllium Is Superior to Wheat Dextrin for Lowering Elevated Serum Cholesterol
A systematic review and meta-analysis of RCTs on the effect of psyllium fiber on lipid targets for CVD risk reduction
Supplemental psyllium fibre regulates the intestinal barrier and inflammation in normal and colitic mice

Image: https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/33831118554

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