WebMD BlogsFood and Fitness

Should You Add Psyllium to Your Diet?

Katherine Brooking, RD - Blogs
By Katherine Brooking, MS, RDRegistered dietitianJuly 18, 2017
From the WebMD Archives

Want to crush food cravings, lower cholesterol, improve blood sugar control and stay regular? A fiber supplement called psyllium may help. Psyllium is derived from a shrub plant and, although it isn’t a magic bullet, a growing body of research points to its potential health benefits. You can find psyllium in powder or pill form, and also in some breakfast cereals.

Generally, I’m not a big proponent of most supplements, but this one could be a smart addition to a healthy diet for the average person (talk to your doctor first to see if it’s right for you). While a diet rich in fruit, vegetables, whole grains, beans and legumes will help you meet your fiber requirements (30 – 38 g/day for men, 25 g for women), the average American only eats about 15 g fiber daily, according to data from the Institutes of Medicine.

Studies show that psyllium fiber can play a role in relieving constipation, improving cholesterol and blood sugar, and it may increase satiety. Early research also suggests that psyllium may benefit people who suffer from Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

One of my favorite things about psyllium is that it can help keep you fuller for longer. I add it to my morning smoothies and oatmeal and find it staves off hunger for hours. A recent study published in the journal Appetite found that people who took a psyllium supplement before meals experienced greater fullness and less hunger between meals than those who didn’t take psyllium. Less hunger can mean fewer snacks and calories, so it may be a helpful tool for weight loss.

How to Add Psyllium to Your Diet

Taken in powder or husk form, it has no flavor or odor but adds thickness to foods and beverages. For instance, if you mix it in with your morning orange juice, it will turn into nectar-thick liquid within minutes. I prefer to use it in yogurt, oatmeal, and smoothies. Psyllium also comes in pill form.

How Much Is Enough?

Start slowly! I recommend taking 1 tablespoon of psyllium per day with a beverage or food. A tablespoon adds 15 calories and 5 grams of fiber (almost all of which is soluble fiber). Once your digestive system has adapted to the additional fiber, you can add another tablespoon to get 10 grams of fiber. However, like all types of natural fiber, it may interfere with the absorption of some medications. If you take prescriptions meds, be sure to check with your physician that there are no contraindications.

WebMD Blog
© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.
Blog Topics:
About the Author
Katherine Brooking, MS, RD

Katherine Brooking is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition education from Columbia University. She is dedicated to helping people have better health and live richer lives through sound nutrition and good lifestyle choices.

More from the Food and Fitness Blog

  • weight scale illustration

    How to Handle Pandemic Weight Gain

    At the doctor’s office recently, the nurse weighed me and said, “That’s five pounds heavier than last time you were here.” I was taken aback--not by the news, but that she’d actually made the comment ...

  • hot tea

    7 Facts About Tea That May Surprise You

    Judging from our local coffee shop’s drive-thru line, coffee dominates the morning caffeine scramble for a lot of people. But tea actually outshines coffee worldwide ...

View all posts on Food and Fitness

Latest Blog Posts on WebMD

  • photo of woman comforting friend hand on shoulder

    Asking for Help as an Act of Self-Care

    For so much of my life, a gnawing fear of failure prevented me from asking for help when I needed it most. Anxiety was a primary motivator in many aspects ...

  • photo of note on kitchen counter
    Multiple Sclerosis

    Dealing With Brain Fog

    What was I saying? What am I looking for? What’s your name? What’s that called? Does this sound familiar? I bet you’ve been in this position before. It’s called ...

View all blog posts

Important: The opinions expressed in WebMD Blogs are solely those of the User, who may or may not have medical or scientific training. These opinions do not represent the opinions of WebMD. Blogs are not reviewed by a WebMD physician or any member of the WebMD editorial staff for accuracy, balance, objectivity, or any other reason except for compliance with our Terms and Conditions. Some of these opinions may contain information about treatments or uses of drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. WebMD does not endorse any specific product, service or treatment.

Do not consider WebMD Blogs as medical advice. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your doctor or other qualified healthcare provider because of something you have read on WebMD. You should always speak with your doctor before you start, stop, or change any prescribed part of your care plan or treatment. WebMD understands that reading individual, real-life experiences can be a helpful resource, but it is never a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a qualified health care provider. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or dial 911 immediately.

Read More