Psyllium is beneficial in constipation because it is extremely water retentive, soaking up water which softens the stools, making them easier to pass.
Hannah explained: “Interestingly, however, psyllium has also been shown to be of benefit in diarrhoea, by soaking up excess water in the digestive tract, helping to form the stools. A study in 2011 feeding psyllium to mice in both diarrhoea and constipation found there was a gut-stimulating effect in constipation and a gut inhibitory activity in diarrhoea. The authors suggested that perhaps psyllium naturally offsets an excessive stimulant effect, helping to explain psyllium’s therapeutic use in diarrhoea as well as constipation.”
Feed beneficial species in the gut
Research is increasingly showing that the microrganisms that live in our guts play a crucial role in many aspects of health, including digestive function, weight management, cardiovascular health, immunity, mood and cognitive function.
Hannah said: “Fibre plays a key role in keeping our gut bacteria happy, as soluble prebiotic fibres acts as the food source for beneficial species. Foods particularly high in prebiotics include slightly under-ripe bananas, garlic, onions, leeks, asparagus, and Jerusalem artichokes. However, to gain full effect, it’s estimated we may need to be consuming 5-10g of prebiotic fibre a day (which may be tricky from food alone). Therefore supplementing with prebiotics, such as inulin can be a handy way to help reach this target.”