Is Psyllium Husk A Cheap Ozempic Alternative? Dieticians Explain The Fibre Supplement’s Benefits (And Limits)

Ozempic has been a buzzy medication for more than a year. The prescription type 2 diabetes drug caught fire on social media after people said they lost significant amounts of weight on it. Then, a slew of speculation surfaced online that certain celebrities were using Ozempic off-label for weight loss.

The medication has faced shortages for months. And because it’s designed to be used for people with type 2 diabetes, most health insurances won’t cover it off-label (i.e. weight loss).

Plus, you need a prescription, which requires a trip to your doctor’s office, hanging in the waiting room for ages and more hassle. It’s no surprise, then, that plenty of people are looking for a less expensive and more easily accessible alternative to Ozempic.

Enter psyllium husk.

Dubbed “the poor man’s Ozempic,” this fibre supplement is suddenly getting a lot of attention. But what is psyllium husk and is it ~actually~ like Ozempic?

Meet the experts: Jessica Cording, R.D., is the author of The Little Book of Game-Changers. Keri Gans, R.D., is the author of The Small Change Diet.

Women’s Health went straight to registered dieticians to answer all your questions about the so-called “natural Ozempic.”

What is psyllium husk?

Psyllium husk is a type of fibre—specifically, soluble fibre, which means it attracts water and turns to gel when it’s being digested, explains Jessica Cording, R.D., author of The Little Book of Game-Changers.

“It’s typically used as a fibre supplement,” she says.

Psyllium husk is found in the seeds of a herb grown in India called Plantago ovata, says Keri Gans, R.D., author of The Small Change Diet.

What are the psyllium husk health benefits?

There are a few different perks of psyllium husk, Gans says, including:

  • Constipation relief
  • Blood sugar management
  • Lowered cholesterol

“Sometimes you’ll see it in the context of weight management products or supplements for weight loss because the fibre helps you to stay full,” Cording says.

READ MORE: ‘Nature’s Ozempic’: What Are The Benefits Of Berberine?

Can you lose weight by taking psyllium husk?

If we’re looking for Ozempic-level weight loss, the answer is no.

“If someone is making other changes to their nutritional intake or their exercise routine and they’re using psyllium husk as part of that, it can be supportive of weight management because of the impacts on fullness and blood sugar regulation,” Cording says. “But just introducing psyllium husk is not enough to cause weight loss.”

Gans says you might lose a little weight while taking psyllium husk, simply because you’ll be more satisfied.

“Fiber, overall, may help with satiety,” she says. “The more satisfied and full a person feels at mealtimes, the less likely they are to overeat.”

Is psyllium husk safe?

In general, yes.

“For most individuals, psyllium husk is completely safe,” Gan says. “However, if on any medications or being treated for an illness, one should always check with their primary physician before adding any supplements to their diet.”

You can also overdo it on psyllium husk or any type of fibre, Cording says.

“As with anything, too much of a good thing is possible,” she says. “Some can be beneficial, but you don’t want to go above and beyond the recommended dosing.”

READ MORE: How To Lose Weight If You Don’t Know Where To Start, According To A Dietician

Can you take it every day?

Yup, you can take psyllium husk every day if you want, Gans says. Be sure to follow the recommended dosing on the label.

If you’re new to fibre supplements, it’s best to start with a small amount, like ½ teaspoon in a 250ml glass of water once a day, according to Mount Sinai. Then, you can gradually increase your dosing as needed.

Does psyllium husk work like Ozempic?

Not really. Ozempic mimics a protein present in your own body called glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) and activates GLP-1 receptors in your body, Cording explains. The activation of these receptors causes an increase in insulin, which helps escort glucose to your cells, where it’s converted to energy.

Ozempic also slows your digestion, making you feel fuller, longer, and therefore less likely to overeat. Psyllium husk works differently in your body.

“Everything is being called the ‘new Ozempic,’” Cording says. “Psyllium husk can help with reducing blood sugar and it can help you to feel more full so you may not be as prone to snacking or eating quite as much. But it’s not the same as Ozempic.”

What kind of side effects might you have when consuming psyllium husks?

The biggest risk is the risk of developing gas.

“If a person is not used to consuming fibre in their diet, it may cause gas and bloating at the start,” Gans says. “Therefore, I would recommend starting slowly, less than the recommended dose and also drinking plenty of water to help acclimate one’s body.”

You can even end up constipated if you take too much psyllium husk and not enough water, Cording says—so make sure you’re having plenty of H2O if you use the supplement.

Overall, experts say psyllium husk can be a supplement worth your time—just check in with your doctor first. And manage your expectations.

“A supplement can be part of a comprehensive approach to weight management but it’s not the end all, be all, Cording says. “Most healthcare providers also recommend dietary and lifestyle changes.”

This article was originally published by Korin Miller on Women’s Health.

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