- Do you take Psyllium fiber to help ease the flow of digestion?
- Psyllium could be dangerous to your health.
- Consumer Lab found trace amounts of a toxic metal in brands like Metamucil.
- This article discusses reasons to reconsider your source of fiber.
Psyllium is an herbal-based ingredient in many products that is high in soluble fiber. Composed of the outside of the psyllium plant seed, these husks create a gelatinous liquid when they come in contact with water molecules. Because of psyllium’s consistency, insoluble fiber and other debris can attach to it, allowing it to slow digestion. In its most common form, psyllium is utilized as a laxative. Because of its ability to bind fiber, psyllium is also often used to control or lower the effects of diarrhea.
However, psyllium is not just used to balance bowel movements. At the turn of the century, a lot of research went into examining the effects of this fiber on cholesterol levels. Several studies found that psyllium once or twice daily (the equivalent of 10 to 20 grams per day) resulted in noted reductions in cholesterol, showed potential in helping to regulate blood sugar levels, and concluded that psyllium therapy could be a healthy alternative to drug therapy.
Fiber has also been looked to as support for the fight against obesity. Psyllium has been used for weight loss, as its ability to expand can trick the body into feeling more full, therefore reducing cravings. However, that is not consistently supported in research findings.
Newer research is now showing that the use of psyllium fiber could pose a health danger. Consumer Lab recently put 8 different psyllium products to the test to analyze the quality of the products. Well-known brands like Metamucil, Rite Aid, and Target’s Up & Up formula were among those tested. The reality of it all? Every single product had trace amounts of lead in it. Excessive amounts of lead were found in 5 of those 8 products. Consumer Lab actually reported that those 5 products – despite not having warning labels – had about 22 times the Proposition 65 legal amount of lead in their recommended daily serving amount.
Exposure to high levels of lead on a prolonged or consistent basis – which is how psyllium is usually suggested to patients- can cause a lot of harm to the human body. Lead takes a while and leave the body after exposure. While it takes just under a month for half of the lead in your blood to have worked itself out of your system, it can take 40 days in soft tissue and 10 years or more in bones and teeth to do the same. Weakness, kidney and brain damage, reproductive issues, and anemia are more common issues, and lead exposure could permanently damage a developing fetus in utero.
While the study found overarching issues in the psyllium manufacturing world, it also highlighted the fact that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not routinely subject psyllium products to testing before they are approved for sale.
At the end of the day, you want to choose products that are safe. That is why at The Swell Score, we do that up front for all the brands we carry. We work with brands that commit to low toxin levels with high levels of clean, pure ingredients and review Certificates of Origin (COAs) when reviewing new products or brands to make sure they are safe.