Psyllium Husk Works... Just Don't Overdo It!
You might have heard of risks associated with consuming psyllium husk. How healthy is it for you to consume? Which is a good question to start with and probably one you're most interested in having answered.
For most people, you do not have to worry about using psyllium husk in smaller doses. Like most things, "taken in moderation" is the key phrase. Certainly, over-the-counter medications like Tylenol are extremely dangerous if you take too much but can be taken daily as long as you don't exceed the recommended dosage.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, several large population based studies have suggested that increased fiber intake may reduce risk of colon cancer, but other studies have been conflicting. We do know taking psyllium as a fiber additive can relieve constipation, treat irritable bowel syndrome and help regulate after-meal blood sugar levels in people with diabetes. Basically, when psyllium husk contacts water it forms a gelatin-like mass that helps move food along as waste allowing you to have more regular bowel movements.
To use psyllium husk safely, follow these simple tips:
- Make sure you use it at least four hours before taking medication. If you have any health issues or concerns, talk to your doctor or dietician about all the medications you take before consuming an additional source of fiber. But for most people, the additional fiber can help you maximize its use without taking away from your medicinal treatments.
- Consume it at least 30 minutes before mealtime. It will prepare your stomach for proper digestion and also can help suppress your appetite. As a result, you will feel fuller even though you may have to eliminate waste from your body before mealtime. First thing in the morning, at least a half an hour before breakfast, uses works best if you're using it routinely.
- Always take it with a full glass of water. This is actually a good idea for almost anything you take. Additionally, it is important that you mix psyllium up well in the water. This will help ensure it does not clog in your throat as you try to swallow. If you are adding psyllium husk to other foods, try to drink two (2) glasses of water — one before your meal and one with your meal.
Are there any side effects?
Most people do not have any serious side effects as long as they use psyllium as directed on the package or by a doctor. When you first start using it, you might feel a slight discomfort in the abdominal area as it begins to work in the stomach and intestines. A more rare reaction would be an allergy such as rash, swelling or dizziness.
If you experience any of the more severe symptoms mentioned above or have trouble breathing, stop using it and seek medical help. You also want to discontinue use if taking it causes nausea or chest pains.
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