Coffee and psyllium husk… a match made in heaven?

Psyllium Husk
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Psyllium husk, also known as ispaghula, is well-regarded for its digestive benefits and it may even benefit your health in other ways as well. There are plenty of ways to incorporate psyllium into your diet, but have you ever wondered if you can add it to your coffee?

The short answer is: yes! Psyllium powder, derived from the husk, dissolves well into coffee and can elevate the nutritional value of your morning brew. But if you’re considering adding this fiber-rich plant product to your daily routine, it’s best to educate yourself on the pros and cons of psyllium, and how best to implement it into your favorite coffee beverage.

But don’t fret, I’ve got you covered! Below I’ll go through the ins and outs of psyllium husk to give you all the information you could ever want on this plant-based substance.

What exactly is psyllium husk?

When I first heard of it, I found myself wondering the same thing. But for anyone seeking a more natural way to add fiber to their diet, psyllium husk powder is guaranteed to come up in the conversation.

As it turns out, we’ve got Plantago ovata, an herb that looks like a shrub, to thank for this superfood. Plantago ovata grows mostly in India and its seeds are what make it so valuable. You see, the seeds are coated in gel, which is where we get the husk. This husk is turned into powder and, voila, you’ve got a load of fiber at your fingertips!

What are the benefits of psyllium?

You must know by now that psyllium is good for at least one thing–fiber. This is because psyllium + water = a blob of gel. While this may not sound appealing, it’s actually super beneficial to your gut health! This mass of gel can help to push food through your digestive system, helping to keep you regular.

But that’s just the beginning. Aside from keeping you regular, it can also help to prevent both constipation and diarrhea. Psyllium can have a laxative effect, causing your body to move waste along and providing relief to the sufferer. On the other hand, psyllium loves water and can help to absorb excess water in your digestive system, which may help to slow things down.

A high fiber diet is also thought to prevent certain cancers and heart disease, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and even benefit those with diabetes, hemorrhoids, inflammatory bowel disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. But as with any medical condition, you should always consult with your doctor before trying any sort of supplement or dietary modification.

What does psyllium taste like?

Don’t be scared away by what I’m about to say, but most people find psyllium husk’s taste (and sometimes texture) to be off-putting. But stick with me, there are a lot of ways around this. One of the best ways to mask the flavor of psyllium husk is by adding it to, drumroll please… coffee! With a naturally bitter flavor, coffee has the ability to overpower a lot of unpleasant tastes.

And interestingly enough, you can either add the psyllium powder to your coffee grounds and then brew it, or stir the powder directly into your freshly brewed cup of coffee. It never hurts to experiment to find out which you prefer.

Some things to keep in mind

Start small

If you’re just testing the waters of adding psyllium to your diet, be sure to take things easy at first. Try mixing a ½ tsp. of psyllium powder per 8 oz. of liquid and work your way up from there, if needed. Too much psyllium at once can cause extremely uncomfortable side effects. As we’ve discussed, it can have a laxative effect and if your body isn’t used to it, too much psyllium could have you staying within close proximity of a restroom for the remainder of the day.

Drink plenty of water

Remember when I said psyllium loves water? Well, sometimes psyllium and water get along a little too well and can leave you without the proper hydration you need. Coffee itself is not a hydrating beverage, so when you add in a substance that wants to join forces with the water in your digestive tract, it’s imperative that you drink plenty of water to make up for this imbalance.

What else can you use psyllium powder in?

Say, for instance, you try psyllium husk in your coffee and you determine it’s just not for you. Or maybe you enjoy it in your coffee, but prefer not to consume it that way every single day. As it turns out, there are a ton of other tasty ways to incorporate psyllium into your diet:

  • Plain old water – if you don’t mind the flavor, simply stir well and enjoy
  • Oatmeal – a great way to mask the taste, especially if you incorporate any add-ons into your oats
  • Smoothies – tend to be packed with flavor and fiber, so you won’t even notice the taste of psyllium at all
  • Baked goods – the tastiest (and my personal favorite) way to add psyllium to your diet

While we’re on the topic of baking, psyllium husk can actually be used as an egg substitute. Just follow this simple recipe next time you find yourself to be out of eggs or just really needing some extra fiber in your baked goods.

If you give it a try and you’re still not sold on psyllium powder or if you just happen to run out, there are several alternatives that serve a similar purpose and maybe a little more friendly to your palette. While they aren’t all incredibly high in fiber, this list is a great roundup of products that can be used instead of psyllium powder, including:

  • Chia seeds
  • Flax seeds
  • Almond flour
  • Xantham gum
  • Cornstarch

The plus side is that these products are a bit more mainstream in most areas than psyllium, so they may be easier to find. And as we all know, easier to find can also mean more budget-friendly.

All in all, psyllium can be a really beneficial product to lead a healthier lifestyle. But just be sure to heed the advice above, consult with your medical provider before trying it out, and add it to your diet responsibly.