A potent plant extract, psyllium is a husk that will boost your digestive health.
Of all the known high-fibre foods and herbs, psyllium husk (it comes from the outer covering of the seeds of the plant-Plantago ovata) is undoubtedly a hero. We know it as isabgol, derived from the Persian word isap (horse) and ghol (ear), which refers to the shape of the seed. It is available quite easily at the local chemist.
How Does It Work?
Psyllium is a soluble fibre that helps relieve constipation through its bulk-forming power. When this husk comes in contact with water, it swells and forms a gelatin-like mass that pushes along waste through the intestines, "It is this quality that makes psyllium effective in treating constipation as well as diarrhoea. It is especially beneficial for geriatric patients and also helps treat irritable bowel syndrome, piles and other intestinal problems," says Dr Kamala Krishnaswamy, food scientist and former director, National Institute of Nutrition, Hyderabad.
Is That All It Does?
Psyllium is heart-healthy too as the fibre content helps lower total cholesterol and bad cholesterol (LDL). A 2013 study in the International Journal of Science and Research states that after 12 weeks of consumption, psyllium husk can help lower tri-glycerides and insulin levels. This is due to the balance of soluble and insoluble fibre and the presence of galacturonic acid. Add a couple of teaspoons to water or a cup of dough to make fibre-rich rotis. Have it for dinner (in soups) or afterwards, before you go to bed, for relief from irritable bowel syndrome or chronic constipation.
--with inputs by Gagan Dhillon
Adapted from Prevention India, October 2015 Living Media India Limited.