How Psyllium Husk Can Help Lower Cholesterol
What is psyllium husk?
Psyllium (“silly-um”—easy, right?) husk is basically just the fiber-filled outside of the seed of a plant called Plantago ovata. It’s been consumed for centuries, and has been tied to improved digestive function, along with a handful of other benefits for your health. Many fiber supplements use it as a natural source of fiber.
When was psyllium husk recognized for promoting heart health?
Because of the evidence of the cardiovascular benefits of psyllium, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1998 ruled that foods containing psyllium fiber can state on their labels that diets low in saturated fat and cholesterol that include 7 grams of soluble fiber per day from psyllium husk may reduce the risk of heart disease by lowering cholesterol.
Psyllium husk helps to keep cholesterol in the digestive symptom.
After we eat, bile – which contains cholesterol – is released from the liver to help us digest our food. Once the bile has helped us absorb nutrients, it’s recycled back to the liver. However, if what we are digesting contains psyllium, the substance will be thicker and stickier, making it harder for the bile to get out of the gut. Psyllium’s gel-forming properties help to trap the bile and its cholesterol inside the digestive system, preventing it from getting back into the blood to be recycled and helping to lower our cholesterol levels.
Psyllium husk helps eliminate cholesterol from the body.
The digestive system absorbs what it can from what we eat as food travels through the system. What’s left is then removed from the body during bowel movements. More cholesterol trapped within the digestive system in the form of bile means more of it leaves our body. Because bile is needed for proper digestion, the body has to compensate for the bile lost from the body when psyllium is present. To create the additional bile needed, the liver uses cholesterol from the blood, so as more bile is created, blood cholesterol levels are lowered.
Psyllium fiber leads to less LDL (bad) cholesterol. Researchers investigating the effect of psyllium fiber on cholesterol have observed an association between higher levels of bile acid synthesis and reductions in LDL cholesterol levels in those taking psyllium. Because the body uses cholesterol to create this bile, there is less cholesterol left over in the bloodstream as LDL.
How much psyllium husk do I need to take to help lower cholesterol?
The amount needed to lower cholesterol is 10 to 20 grams a day. Psyllium is generally taken three times a day, just before each meal, either in a capsule or as a powder that you mix with water or juice. Make sure you drink at least 8 ounces of water, juice, or other fluid every time you take psyllium, otherwise you run the risk of it swelling and blocking the esophagus or bowels. Start slowly, with half a scoop of Bellway in 8 oz. of water once a day, and gradually increase to three.