Glucomannan is a soluble fiber extracted from the root of the konjac plant. While some people refer to glucomannan as a resistant starch, the reason for it’s use, whether in the form of an extract or as a food source, is the same as most other soluble fiber supplements such as psyllium husk. The benefits of fiber are well established.
While glucomannan fiber is most commonly taken in capsule or powder form as a dietary supplement, it is also becoming a common ingredient in some health food quality breakfast cereals. It is also available in the form of glucomannan noodles. These contain no starch, carbohydrates, or calories.
Health Benefits of Glucomannan (Konjac)
#1-Regularity-The most common reason for the use of glucomannan fiber is to promote regularity. It has proven to be safe and effective for this purpose. The most common reason for chronic constipation is poor diet, so it makes sense that a dietary supplement can be a good option for most people. Harsh stimulant laxitives are usually not necessary.
#2-Cholesterol-Glucomannan fiber lowers cholesterol by binding up excess bile acids and then excreating them from the body. It also may slow the absorption of cholesterol in some foods.
#3-Type 2 Diabetes-Glucomannan is a soluble fiber, when it is mixed with water it forms a gel. This gel absorbs sugar and starches which slows the bodies digestion of these carbohydrates. This helps to reduce blood sugar spikes. Diabetics have long been recommended to eat foods high in soluble fiber, these foods are referred to as having a low “Glycemic Index.”
#4-Weight Loss-This is not to say that glucomannan is the next “miracle diet food.” But there several glucomannan weight loss studies that have produced impressive results, and the reasons for this are quite simple. Fiber is bulk, it takes up space in the digestive tract and contributes to a sense of fullness. And since it controls blood sugar spikes, this controls insulin levels and reduces appetite.
#5-Promotes Probiotic Bacteria-Surely by now you’ve heard about the benefits of probiotics. Maybe you’ve heard the term “prebiotic” lately. Glucomannan is a prebiotic fiber. All prebiotics are is simply a soluble fiber supplement. Please don’t let them add to much mysticism to the subject, it’s really quite simple. So what do prebiotics do?
Prebiotics such as glucomannan act as a natural food source for our natural probiotic bacteria. While a probiotic supplement is always a good idea, why not help them multiply of their own. These “good bugs” are important because they prevent a state known as dsybiosis. Dysbiosis is a state where our healthy intestinal organisms are compromised and then harmful organisms such as candida can move in.
Why Glucomannan is Better than Psyllium
The main reason why glucomannan is better than psyllium is because it is better tolerated by most people. Psyllium can cause abdominal pain and also allergic reactions though rare. And while it’s not related to wheat and contains no gluten, it is derived from a grain which is a problem for some people. Glucomannan is a relative of the sweet potato.
Though rare, there are some reports of glucomannan side effects. These are the same as other soluble fiber supplements but are more mild. One important thing is to drink a large glass of water with your glucomannan. When glucomannan combines with water, it expands and may present a chocking hazard for people who have difficulty swallowing. Also, do not take just before laying down.
And although any soluble fiber supplement will show benefits for those with weight gain, high cholesterol, or diabetes, glucomannan fiber has been shown to be the most effective.
Glucomannan is a simple straight forward step you can take to aid in the management of any of the above mentioned ailments. It’s inexpensive and effective, and a good addition to any healthy eating plan such as a probiotic diet. As more time passes, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more about the benefits of glucomannan.