psyllium fiber, laxative psyllium

Dietary fiber is almost universally acknowledged as beneficial. Diets rich in whole grains and vegetables that supply fiber seem to be associated with better cardiovascular health, better metabolic balance and greater regularity. The laxative psyllium is based on plant fiber and has multiple health benefits. One reader was told it would lower cholesterol.

How Does the Laxative Psyllium Lower Cholesterol?

Q. My doctor recommended psyllium for double duty: to lower my cholesterol and keep me regular. How does this laxative lower cholesterol?

A. Psyllium is fiber from the plantago plant. It is sold as psyllium husk fiber or under a brand name such as Metamucil. Actually, psyllium can do more than double duty: in addition to serving as a laxative, the fiber can counteract diarrhea.

In addition, the soluble fiber binds to bile acids in the digestive tract, allowing you to eliminate excess cholesterol. While psyllium won’t lower total cholesterol as much as statins, it can lower this blood lipid anywhere from 9 to 15 points (McRae, Journal of Chiropractic Medicine, Dec. 2017).

Other Benefits of the Laxative Psyllium:

Taking psyllium may also reduce levels of triglycerides and blood sugar (Ota & Ulrih, Frontiers in Pharmacology, July 6, 2017). Overweight adults who took psyllium every day for a year as part of a randomized controlled trial had significantly lower insulin levels at the end of that time (Pal et al, Nutrients, Jan. 29, 2017). Part of the effect of psyllium both as a laxative and for lowering cholesterol and blood glucose is due to its viscosity and ability to trap liquid and form a gel (McRorie & McKeown, Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, Feb. 2017).

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  1. Jesse
    Reply

    I have used organic psyllium daily for years and my cholesterol level is always perfect. I am in my 70s, mostly organic vegetarian, and eat no pork and very little beef…just 100% grass fed when I rarely do eat beef. Others I know say the same thing about psyllium, including my internist.

    I have been dining with Turkish and European friends and I see them take unflavored Metamucil before the meal. They eat very healthy, a Mediterranean diet and no American junk food as they don’t live in U.S., but some of them can get elevated cholesterol if they don’t take Metamucil or the organic psyllium. It can be genetic. I take Organic India psyllium.

  2. Diane
    Maryland
    Reply

    I do not have any problem with constipation and wonder if taking Metamucil for lowering cholesterol would still be okay. Don’t want to be running to the bathroom!

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