Metamucil is the brand name of a fiber supplement that comes in several different forms, including capsules, powder and wafer products that you can add to water or food, or eat on their own. Metamucil products contain psyllium fiber, which is a soluble fiber that comes from a shrub-like herb called Plantago ovata. Some of the benefits of consuming fiber include lowering cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and weight loss.
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How Does Psyllium Fiber Work
Psyllium fiber supplements are most commonly added to water or food because, when the psyllium husk comes in contact with water, it swells to form a gelatin-like mass. When you consume this gel, it has different effects on your gastrointestinal tract. It adds bulk to your food as you eat, helping transport resulting waste through the intestinal tract. Metamucil is often used to relieve constipation because the swelling of psyllium also causes muscle in the intestinal wall to contract in response to the increased amount of stretching. This stimulates movement of stool through the digestive tract.
Adding soluble fiber like psyllium to a health diet slows uptake of dietary fats of all kinds, including unhealthy, saturated fats. Over time, this can lower total blood cholesterol. A study published in the journal "Nutrición Hospitilaria" in 2010 by scientists at the public university of Tarragona in Spain states that an increase in dietary fiber can also decrease LDL, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, or the bad cholesterol, in the body. High levels of LDL are associated with an increased risk of coronary artery disease, heart attack and stroke.
Lowering Blood Pressure
A 2011 study published in the journal "Hypertension" and conducted at Royal Perth Hospital in Australia reports that, in a randomized controlled trial, people with hypertension saw a reduction in blood pressure when they consumed higher amounts of fiber. The greatest change in blood pressure was experienced among those who took psyllium fiber supplements that were double their normal fiber intake. This increase in fiber was paired with an increase in dietary protein as well.
Supplementing your food intake with psyllium fiber may also help in a weight loss program. When it forms a gel in your stomach, it can help you feel full faster and decrease your craving for additional food during a meal. When adding psyllium to your diet, do so gradually to avoid intestinal discomfort or gas, which can result when you consume too much of the supplement quickly. These symptoms can also appear and persist if you take in too much psyllium, so follow package directions carefully and discuss its use with your doctor or a registered dietitian.
Diabetes and Glycemic Control
Increasing fiber intake above the daily recommended amount by the American Diabetes Association has also been shown to improve glycemic control and decrease the degree of hyperinsulemia, or excess levels of insulin in the blood. The ADA recommends that adults consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day to stay healthy.