Although those hunger pangs and growls come from your tummy, it’s the hypothalamus region in your brain sending those appetite signals to you. Your appetite triggers you to eat when you’re hungry so you don’t miss out on vital nutrients. However, it can get out of control, for instance, if your brain becomes less responsive to satiety signals. Psyllium husk may be beneficial in suppressing a raging appetite, but it’s best to seek medical advice before taking it.
What Is Psyllium Husk?
Psyllium husk comes from the seeds of the Plantago ovato plant, which is commonly grown in India and is also cultivated in other parts of the world. The plant produces about 15,000 gel-coated seeds. In some psyllium products, the husk can be found intact, while in other products the husk is separated from the seeds. Psyllium husk is a soluble fiber, which means it dissolves in water and it forms a gel-like substance.
Fiber and Appetite Suppression
When psyllium husk mixes with water in your digestive tract, it swells, helping to take up room in your stomach and making you feel fuller. Fiber also slows the movement of food from your stomach into the intestines, thereby making you feel full for a longer period and increasing appetite-suppressing signals. Foods with fiber, such as psyllium husk, can also help curb cravings and are possible aids for obesity.
Psyllium, Hunger and Insulin
In a study published in the “Journal of Nutrition” in April 2010, researchers found that adding psyllium fiber to meals decreased feelings of hunger after meals. Psyllium also provided other benefits, such as stable blood glucose and insulin levels after meals. Insulin is a hormone that triggers your body to store fat. So if you’re already struggling to control your appetite and overeating as a result, the last thing you need is to increase levels of a hormone that can prompt your body to convert those extra calories more readily into fat.
Taking Psyllium Husk
Do not take psyllium husk for appetite suppression for longer than a week without your doctor’s advice. Adults may consume between 3 and 6 g of psyllium — or about 1 to 2 tbsp. — two to three times daily, according to the NYU Langone Medical Center. Always take psyllium with 8 oz. of water and increase your water intake throughout the day to avoid constipation.
As psyllium swells on contact with water, if you have a swallowing disorder it’s best to avoid taking it, or at the very least, take it in pill form. Watch out for side effects such as abdominal cramps or pain, nausea, vomiting, itching or hives. If you are on medications for heart disease, diabetes, depression, high cholesterol or seizures, consult your doctor before taking psyllium husk to suppress your appetite.
- “You on a Diet”; Michael C. Roizen, M.D., et al.; 2009
- NYU Langone Medical Center: Psyllium
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Psyllium
- “Journal of Nutrition”; A Psyllium Fiber-Enriched Meal Strongly Attenuates Postprandial Gastrointestinal Peptide Release In Healthy Young Adults; L.J. Karhunen, et al.; April 2010