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The hidden benefits of fiber

Background

Psyllium fiber is a soluble fiber that is frequently used as a laxative. It’s most commonly found in products like Metamucil and helps to restore regular bowel movement by stopping loose stools and preventing constipation. Psyllium absorbs 8 to 14 times its weight in water and adds “bulk” to stool, helping your body to expel it easier.

Health Benefits

According to the University of Maryland, studies suggest that a high-fiber diet may help lower insulin and blood sugar levels, and improve cholesterol levels of people with diabetes. Psyllium has the added benefit of lowering cholesterol, stabilizing blood sugar, and reducing the risk of heart disease.

Weight Loss

When taken before a meal, Psyllium can make you feel fuller and reduce your hunger. The University of Maryland recommends taking .5 tsp to 2 tsp. of psyllium 30 minutes prior to a meal with 8 oz of water.

Precautions

Because supplements may have side effects or interact with medications, you should take them only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.

Psyllium supplements may reduce or delay the absorption of certain medications (See Possible Interactions). As a rule, you should not take psyllium supplements at the same time as other medications. Take psyllium at least 1 hour before or 2 – 4 hours after taking other medications.

You should always take psyllium with a full 8 oz. glass of water, and you should drink at least 6 – 8 full glasses of water throughout the day to avoid constipation. Taking psyllium supplements without adequate liquids may cause it to swell, and, in extreme cases, cause choking.

Do not take this product if you have difficulty swallowing. People with esophageal stricture (narrowing of the esophagus) or any other narrowing or obstruction of the gastrointestinal tract should not take psyllium.

A potential side effect from any fiber product is gas and bloating.

People with kidney disease should talk to their doctor before taking psyllium.

Source: University of Maryland

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