Psyllium Husk for Husky Poop
Posted by Andrea Nakayama
It may be a bit brash for me to talk to you about your BMs this early in the day. Fortunately, it’s just you and me right now. Nobody’s looking over your shoulder and I promise there’s not a person in earshot of me as I write this.
Yet if you know me, you know I’m a fan of evaluating the shape, size, color and consistency of poop. That’s right. Poop is one of our best health diagnostic tools!
I’m not talking about fancy stool analysis (though I confess to liking those for some clinical diagnostic gems as well). I’m merely talking about taking a peek in the bowl after you’ve done your business and before you flush the (very telling) evidence you’ve left behind.
That sneak peek is not to be missed! It can reveal a load about your GI function. And a load is what we want to see. Are you ready for the naked truth?
A healthy stool should be up to 2 inches in diameter. That’s pretty husky, right?! In order to get there, let’s turn our attention to a husk of another sort.
The Secret to Psyllium Husk’s Success
Today’s gut loving ingredient is meant to bring on the husky: it’s psyllium husk!
The main secret to psyllium husk’s success in easing digestive woes is that it’s a rich source of soluble fiber. Instead of being food for you, it’s actually food for your gut bacteria! (The good guys.) Here’s how your gut does its stuff with psyllium husk: your gut bacteria ferment the soluble fiber in psyllium husk to produce short chain fatty acids like butyrate. Butyrate has been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, have anti-inflammatory effects, and ease digestive distress.
The real mystery and magic of psyllium husk (in my mind) is that it can remedy digestive woes on both ends of the spectrum—from hard and clumpy to loose and runny. (Yes, I’m back to talking poop.)
If your constitution leads to constipation, psyllium husk can help get you going in no time. When combined with water in your digestive tract, it swells and produces more bulk, stimulating your intestines to contract and get things moving. (Just be sure to increase your water and electrolyte consumption when adding that psyllium.)
If instead, you’re going with a gush, psyllium husk still may save the day. It helps soak up water in the digestive tract, firms your stool, and slows the whole show down. Even in the case of more serious digestive issues (like Crohn’s and Colitis), there’s compelling evidence (and in my practice, clinical experience) that adding in psyllium husk can help alleviate signs and symptoms of distress.
And if you’re thinking… you want me to eat this stuff? Yes, I do!
Having psyllium husk handy for breads, baked goods and healthy snacks, like the one I share below, make it a go-to ingredient for getting your husky on. (It works like a binder in your food, just as it does elsewhere, so it’s especially helpful when making gluten-free goodies that have lost a bit of their “glue”.)
As with all gut lovin’ ingredients — start low and go slow! If you (and your gut) are new to psyllium husk, begin with just a small amount (½ to 1 tsp per day) to make sure that your gut does indeed love the husk! Cap this superfood dosage at 2-3 Tbsps per day.
Listen to your body… if the response is good, this colonic food is a good for you go-to.
Choosing the Right Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk comes in a few forms including capsules, powder, whole husk and whole seeds. What’s best for you? It depends!
- For baked goods, the powder or whole husk is usually best. Some recipes specifically call for one or the other so double check your recipe. The whole husk can be grainy so if your tongue doesn’t like the texture, try the powder instead.
- Capsules are good for when you’re on the go and need to go! (But I prefer the in-my-food sources.)
- Whole seeds are the least processed form and you can grind them into a powder to use in baking.
*Note: Try to avoid products like Metamucil. It’s psyllium husk but it’s paired with sugar and orange dye (no thank you!).
Psyllium Husk No-Bake Recipe
These quick and easy no-bake snacks are good for on-the-go (as well as helping you to, well, “go”). They’re not particularly sweet if you use one of the low-glycemic sweeteners I’ve chosen, but they’re still quite tasty and satisfying! Note to all eaters, you might want some floss on hand after these psylly bombs.
Even though these turtle treats might hit the spot, be careful not to eat the whole plate. They might have you “going” a little too much. Slow down and tune in to your body!
- 1/3 cup yacon syrup, coconut nectar or other liquid sweetener (raw honey or maple syrup will make these sweeter)
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/3 cup nut or seed butter of choice, I like sprouted almond butter
- 1/4 cup ground psyllium husk powder
- 2 Tbsp chia seeds
- 1 cup fine coconut flakes
- 1/4 cup cacao nibs or dried fruit (if added sweetness is desired), optional
- sprinkle sea salt
- sprinkle cinnamon
- half pecan to top each scoop
- Prepare a tray or baking sheet, lined with parchment or wax paper.
- Mix all ingredients from the liquid sweetener to the coconut flakes (first six ingredients), in a large bowl until well combined. Use a wooden spoon or your clean hands to mix well.
- Add in ‘extras’ (cacao nibs or dried fruit) if using, and mix well to combine.
- Using a melon-ball scoop or your hands to grab and roll, scoop out a sphere about 1-inch round, placing each round on the lined tray.
- Sprinkle each mound with sea salt, cinnamon and press a half a pecan on top of each. And enjoy!
Here’s to power-packed snacks that your gut will love!
Your homework? Try some psyllium husk this week and take a peek to see if there’s anything different in the bowl! Do remember, start with a low dosage (see above) if this ingredient is new to you—see how it feels and increase from there.
Beyond the Gut: Other Husky Psyllium Health Benefits You Don’t Want to Miss!
> helps clear LDL cholesterol from your bloodstream keeping your liver and heart happier
> supports detoxification by helping to remove excess and unwanted toxins, hormones and medications from your bloodstream
Blood Sugar Bliss
> improves insulin sensitivity and balances your blood sugar
> increases your feeling of fullness, which helps to curb your appetite so you eat less
Reminder: As with all gut food, start low and go slow.
We’re each unique and we all respond differently to new ingredients. While introducing psyllium husk to your diet, make sure you’re drinking enough water, as psyllium will soak up some of the liquid in your system. If you have a delicate GI and have any concerns, please consult your dedicated healthcare provider.
Read more from the Functional Nutrition Alliance:
Listen to these episodes of the 15-Minute Matrix podcast:
Anderson JW, Davidson MH, Blonde L, et al. Long-term cholesterol-lowering effects of psyllium as an adjunct to diet therapy in the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71(6):1433-1438. doi:10.1093/ajcn/71.6.1433
Alexander C, Swanson KS, Fahey GC, Garleb KA. Perspective: Physiologic Importance of Short-Chain Fatty Acids from Nondigestible Carbohydrate Fermentation. Adv Nutr. 2019;10(4):576-589. doi:10.1093/advances/nmz004
Jalanka J, Major G, Murray K, et al. The Effect of Psyllium Husk on Intestinal Microbiota in Constipated Patients and Healthy Controls. Int J Mol Sci. 2019;20(2):433. Published 2019 Jan 20. doi:10.3390/ijms20020433
Lambeau KV, McRorie JW Jr. Fiber supplements and clinically proven health benefits: How to recognize and recommend an effective fiber therapy. J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2017;29(4):216-223. doi:10.1002/2327-6924.12447
Abutair AS, Naser IA, Hamed AT. Soluble fibers from psyllium improve glycemic response and body weight among diabetes type 2 patients (randomized control trial). Nutr J. 2016;15(1):86. Published 2016 Oct 12. doi:10.1186/s12937-016-0207-4
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