Fiber is a very important part of your diet, and it becomes even more important when you are trying to shed some pounds from your body weight. Soluble fiber, when it gets into contact with water, swells to create a gel-like structure which fills your digestive tract. As a result, you will not get hungry again any time soon. Soluble fiber is also beneficial for the health of the digestive system. However, there are several different kinds of fiber, such as inulin and psyllium. Below, we will see the differences between inulin vs psyllium so that you can choose the right fiber supplement for your diet.
Inulin is actually a group of polysaccharides that are naturally produced by many types of plants, such as onions, leeks, asparagus, and soybeans. But most of the industrial production is acquired from the extraction of chicory. Inulin is usually found in the roots or rhizomes. In these plants, inulin is used for storing energy. Most of these plants only produce inulin and not any other form of carbohydrate.
Inulin has received a no-objection status as “generally recognized as safe” (GRAS) from the FDA. In other words, it has been scientifically and clinically proven to be safe for public consumption. Still, make sure that you consult your physician about the suitable dosage and follow the recommendation. You can take about 2,000 mg to 3,000 mg every day for to maintain your digestive health, or as much as 8 grams to 20 grams per day in order to help treat high cholesterol/triglycerides levels or diabetes.
Benefits of Inulin
One of the differences between inulin vs psyllium is that, in the science world, inulin is considered as a type of fructo-oligosaccharide (FOS), which is beneficial for feeding and nourishing the good bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract while reducing the population of the harmful bacteria. Because of this effect, inulin is also considered as a prebiotic. It is very useful for maintaining the health of the digestive system and for treating/preventing traveler’s diarrhea and eczema.
Inulin is indeed quite a multi-function type of fiber. Besides acting as a prebiotic, inulin is also famously used as a tool to measure kidney function. Inulin is neither secreted nor reabsorbed by the kidney so that you can measure the filtration rate of the organ. Glomerular filtration rate (GFR) is the volume of the filtered fluid from the glomerular capillaries per unit of time.
Inulin is useful to help you control your blood sugar levels and lower triglycerides and cholesterol. The gel-like structure it forms can bind and trap excessive fats in the digestive tract so that they will not get absorbed into the body. The gel-like structure fills the digestive tract and moves slowly, hence prolonging your fullness so that you don’t get hungry quickly.
On the other hand, the psyllium fiber is acquired from the plants that belong to the genus Plantago, notable examples include Plantago ispaghula and Plantago ovata. Psyllium is incredibly popular on the market because it contains high levels of fiber and mucilage. Psyllium’s fiber and mucilage are known for their ability to deliver bulk-forming laxative effects, soothe the gastrointestinal tract, control blood sugar levels, and lower the cholesterol absorption.
Benefits of Psyllium
Psyllium is primarily used as a dietary fiber for relieving symptoms of constipation and mild diarrhea. Various researches have also shown that psyllium has benefits in reducing blood cholesterol levels. It is also quite commonly used as a food thickener as well, especially in various ice cream products and in frozen desserts.
When choosing between inulin vs psyllium, you should note that the higher content of fiber in psyllium leads to its ability to fill the digestive tract more than inulin. If your primary concern is weight loss, psyllium may be a more effective approach. It fills the stomach and moves slowly so that you will feel full for a longer time and you will be able to control your appetite more easily.
Psyllium’s mucilage content helps to absorb excessive water in the digestive tract as well as to stimulate the normal bowel movement. These effects make it useful for soothing the digestive tract and very helpful for treating constipation and mild diarrhea. The absorbed water subsequently helps to soften the stool at the end of the digestive tract.
Compared to some other types of fiber, psyllium has been shown to be more effective in lowering the levels of blood sugar and blood cholesterol. The use of psyllium-based cereals is also a very good and well-tolerated part of a diet for treating mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia. However, avoid the supplementation of ispaghula husk if you have high dietary calcium intake. This may lead to adverse side effects on colorectal adenoma recurrence.
Side Effects of Inulin vs Psyllium
Both inulin and psyllium may cause allergic reactions, but being allergic to one of them does not make you allergic to the other. Inulin may cause an anaphylactic allergic reaction, but this is rare. On the other hand, there are also cases of allergic reactions to psyllium-containing cereals. If you are allergic to inulin, you may want to choose psyllium, and vice versa.
Both inulin and psyllium may cause gas and stomach cramping. If you are not used to a high-fiber diet, you should increase your fiber intake gradually instead of taking the full dose right away. When taking an inulin or psyllium supplement, you should drink a full glass of water in order to avoid choking. Drinking enough water is very important when you are taking a fiber supplement.
As you can see, inulin and psyllium are both fiber supplements that can help you lose weight, but they offer different unique benefits. Inulin is a prebiotic, and is great for nourishing the good bacteria in the digestive system. Inulin is useful for treating or preventing traveler’s diarrhea and eczema. On the other hand, psyllium is great for weight loss because it is rich in fiber and mucilage. It has a soothing effect that can help reduce the symptoms of constipation and mild diarrhea. When taking a fiber supplement, you should drink enough water to prevent choking.