You may have noticed that some raw recipes include psyllium as an ingredient. Psyllium adds texture (think moist, soft and light - yum!) to recipes like my Moist Spongy Loaves, and can be used as a thickener in puddings, shakes and soups. But some of you might be wondering: what is psyllium and how much psyllium is safe to eat?
Psyllium is available in both 'husk' and 'powder' forms. (Note: I use psyllium husk in my recipes). It is an excellent source of fiber (derived from the seeds of the plantago ovata plant). It is commonly used to promote bowel regularity. (Check out the constipation section at a store and you'll see lots of psyllium products!) You can purchase it as a laxative or as a fiber supplement, or in bulk at your health food store.
Psyllium also has other health benefits, such as lowering cholestrol, alleviating Irritable Bowel symptoms, and maintaining colon health. As you can see, psyllium fiber can be a beneficial addition to your diet.
Psyllium absorbs water as it passes through your intestines, which then bulks up your stool. It's this action that facilitates passage through your bowels. Most healthy folks who eat a varied diet to meet their fiber requirements will not have a problem adding psyllium to their diet.
However, if you eat too much psyllium, especially if you don't drink enough water or you're not used to it, you could run into trouble. Eating too much psyllium can cause problems like gas, bloating, intestinal discomfort, diarrhea, constipation, and even intestinal blockage. As with any fiber (or anything in life, really), too much isn't necessarily a good thing!
Good things to know...
- 1 tablespoon psyllium husk = 5 grams psyllium fiber
- 1 teaspoon psyllium powder = 5 grams psyllium fiber
- Recommended amount of psyllium as a supplement is 1/2 to 3 teaspoons psyllium husk per day.
- Drink lots of water when adding psyllium to your diet!
You know your own body. If you have a predisposition to intestinal problems (from surgery or other medical problems), check with your doctor first before charging out and buying a sack of psyllium! If you are on any medications, check to make sure that eating psyllium is okay (as it can interfere with absorption).
And if you don't have any issues, use common sense! Don't scarf back an entire loaf of Raw Sweet Bread (no matter how good it tastes!) or you may suffer the embarrassing (or worse) consequences!