What’s is Psyllium Seed Husk and Is It Paleo?
“Psyllium seed husks, also known as ispaghula, isabgol, or psyllium, are portions of the seeds of the plant Plantago ovata, (genus Plantago), a native of India and Pakistan. They are hygroscopic, which allows them to expand and become mucilaginous…” defines Wikipedia. (Gotta love that last part…”become mucilaginous”; just what I want to hear when I think about cooking!) Recently, a friend asked my opinion on using this food in baking (she’d found a recipe calling for it to be used as a thickener) and whether or not it was Paleo. Mark Sisson does a great job analyzing it on his site when he explains: “Psyllium fiber comes two different ways, with each having a different effect on your bowels and their movements. Psyllium husk, which is the popular type of pysllium fiber found in most supplements, comes from the exterior of the psyllium seed and is almost entirely insoluble fiber. Your gut bacteria can’t do much with it, let alone your “own” digestive system. Psyllium seed powder, however, is mostly soluble fiber. That means it’s a prebiotic, fermentable fiber that can feed and support your gut flora and spur the creation of beneficial short chain fatty acids like butyrate.” My take on thickeners, as you may well know if you’ve been reading my blog for a while, is that we don’t need to thicken things with low quality foodstuff in the first place. Want thicker soup? Blend in some pureed cauliflower. Want a thicker sauce for your roast pastured chicken? Reduce the pan jus. And if you’re trying your hand at the ‘special occasion Paleo baking a treat’ concept, surely there are better options than good old mucilaginous psyllium. My position is such that if it’s going to be a treat for that special occasion, I’d rather have a real treat- like my Paleoista Truffles! Pure, decadent, raw dark chocolate. Paleo aside, who wants a dry floury cakey concoction anyway. And if you’re relying on taking psyllium or any ‘fibre supplement’, you may not be properly following the Paleo approach. Don’t forget, veggies have approximately 7 – 11 times the amount of fiber found in fortified grain products, and on a True Paleo Regime, you should be eating veggies in copious amounts each time you eat. (I write copious because even when I suggest ‘eat lots of veggies’ it still doesn’t register). Need help? Save your dollars on fibre supplements and book a dietary analysis instead. Odds are that you’ve got some really common eating patterns that most have when trying out the Paleo waters initially. It’s an easy fix- so let’s get started!