Psyllium fiber: digestive and heart health, functional ingredient

Psyllium is a soluble fiber made from the seed husks of the Plantago ovata plant. It’s considered a soluble fiber and helps move food through the digestive system so that your body can break it down and convert it into essential nutrients. Without enough fiber in a person’s diet to help move food though the gut will adversely affect gut bacteria, making it harder to metabolize and absorb the nutrients.

The fibers purely mechanical function is absorbing water. It does this in a person’s large intestines when used as a laxative and is the bulk forming fiber in laxative products like Metamucil.  60% of psyllium is used for applications dealing with digestive health.

Psyllium not only alleviates many digestive conditions but also aids in supporting lower cholesterol by decreasing lipid levels and lowering blood sugar levels. Psyllium promotes a healthy heart by lowering blood pressure and strengthening heart muscles. When the fiber forms a gel, it slows down the uptake of fats and sugars from the food, causing blood sugar and cholesterol to rise more slowly after a meal.

One study shows that at least 6 weeks of daily psyllium intake is an effective way for people who are obese or overweight to control their cholesterol and blood sugar levels with very few side effects.

In the food industry psyllium fiber is used as a thickener in ice cream and frozen desserts. A 1.5% volume by weight ratio of psyllium mucilage exhibits binding properties that are superior to a 10% volume by weight ratio of starch mucilage.

The viscosity of psyllium mucilage dispersions is relatively unaffected between temperatures of 68 and 122 degrees Fahrenheit, by pH between 2 and 10 and by salt concentrations of up to .15 ppm.

These functional properties of Psyllium make it an excellent source of natural dietary fiber and may lead to and increased use the food industry. If you have any questions about psyllium or any dietary fibers please contact your SPI Group sales rep for more information on psyllium and the other fibers SPI Group distributes.

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