Glucomannan is one source of dietary fiber that has become so popular recently for its wide range of benefits for relieving constipation, maintaining a healthy weight, controlling blood sugar, among other health benefits.
This natural supplement has been a part of traditional dishes for generations, but in the last two decades, scientists began to realize the astonishing properties of glucomannan and the numerous health benefits it offers to the body and mind.
In this article, we’ll be showing you the top five benefits of this fiber-rich supplement and how to take it.
But before we talk about the benefits, let’s quickly describe glucomannan and how it works.
What is Glucomannan?
Glucomannan is soluble fiber extracted from the root of the konjac plant (Amorphophallus konjac), which is native to Asia. This high fiber supplement and complex sugar is also extracted from Lily, Higanbana, Eastern white pine, Ramie, Redwood, Orchid, and Suisen.
Interestingly, glucomannan is the dietary fiber with the highest viscosity level known to man, and it absorbs water extremely well.
Research has shown that a few grams of glucomannan powder can turn a glass of water (eight ounces) into a gel. Some studies suggest glucomannan can absorb up to 105 grams of water per 1g of Konjac.
This ability to absorb large amounts of water is what gives glucomannan most of its beneficial properties. Most importantly, it swells up in the digestive system, making you feel full for longer.
Little wonder, this fiber has been used since ancient times as a food thickener, a fat substitute, and a preservative.
Glucomannan is now making lots of waves as a dietary supplement, and this is largely due to its beneficial properties for weight loss.
How does Glucomannan Work?
When you add glucomannan to your diet, it works by:
- Making you feel full and less hungry as it takes up space in your stomach
- Decreasing your hunger hormone (ghrelin) level
- Supporting the growth of good bacteria in your gut
- Removing bile acids
Apart from weight loss, glucomannan supports several other bodily functions and offers numerous benefits.
What are the Health Benefits of Glucomannan?
Several studies have evaluated the impact of glucomannan on overall health and wellbeing. Below are the top 5 benefits confirmed by research:
Glucomannan supports weight loss
This is the most popular benefit derived from adding glucomannan supplements. The water-absorbing property of this soluble fiber makes it support weight loss as it forms a gel and fills the stomach, making you less hungry for a long period.
Studies have shown that like other soluble fiber sources, glucomannan reduces the absorption of fats and proteins. This has an impact on your overall calorie intake, especially when you combine with an energy-restricted diet.
What about the food calories that get caught up in this gel? Well, the calories are more likely to be excreted out rather than absorbed.
Again, glucomannan reduces the appetite-inducing hormone ghrelin.
One study showed that glucomannan supplementation helped overweight people shed excess weight. The participants took this soluble-fiber supplement as part of a calorie-controlled diet.
Glucomannan helps control diabetes
Type 2 diabetes is a major problem in western nations. This condition is believed to arise in response to sudden spike in blood glucose, usually following excess consumption of sugary foods and drinks.
When there is a spike in blood sugar, the body starts becoming resistant to the effects of insulin.
However, several studies have shown taking glucomannan helps to control the rise in blood sugar without affecting your insulin levels.
How does glucomannan perform this function? Studies have shown this supplement helps reduce the rate at which the stomach empties and nutrients get absorbed into the body. This indirectly reduces significant fluctuations in blood glucose levels, leading to improvement in conditions that may lead to the onset of diabetes.
In one study, 22 diabetic adults took glucomannan supplements before a meal. The result showed a significant decrease in blood glucose levels and cholesterol.
Glucomannan-enriched foods have also been shown by studies to help reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.
A 2015 review found that glucomannan made diabetic people less likely to eat foods that could cause a spike in their blood sugar levels. This is attributed to the fact that this fiber keeps them fuller for longer.
Glucomannan Supports Normal Blood Cholesterol Levels
More than 50% of people in most Western countries have high cholesterol levels, which increases their risk of heart disease and stroke.
Glucomannan have been shown by research to help reduce cholesterol levels significantly when taken either as a dietary supplement or a natural part of your diet.
Bile acids are a product of cholesterol. Glucomannan binds to bile acids and clears them from the body. This results in more cholesterol conversion into bile acids, lowering the body’s cholesterol levels.
The manner in which glucomannan slows down the passage of food also impacts how quickly the nutrients pass across the gut wall into the bloodstream. This limits the rate at which cholesterol is absorbed from food.
Doctors recommend taking water-soluble fiber to maintain healthy cholesterol levels and weight management. And glucomannan is just a perfect option to add to your diet.
Glucomannan helps relieve constipation
Dietary fiber helps support the free movement of food through the digestive tract. Glucomannan plays a role here, thanks to its gel-like texture. This fiber source absorbs water in the gut, and allows food to move smoothly and efficiently in the gut.
So for constipation or irregularity in the gut, glucomannan supplementation offers great help and improves symptoms of constipation.
One study considered the effect of taking either 4.5 grams of glucomannan per day (1.5 gram at three different sittings) or a placebo. Then, the food passage was measured in order to record the effect of the fiber. The study showed that glucomannan caused a 27% increase in the stool frequency and 30% increase in volume.
The participants in the study who took glucomannan also experienced significant growth in the number of colonies of “good bacteria” in their gut.
Glucomannan Supports Wound Healing
Glucomannan supplements have also been shown to help boost the body’s healing of wounds.
One study found that taking glucomannan might encourage wound healing by improving the activities of the immune system.
That being said, more research is still ongoing to learn more about the benefits of glucomannan for health and overall wellbeing.
How Much Glucomannan Can I Take?
Aim to take around 30 to 50 grams of fiber daily. This should include both the soluble and insoluble fibers.
You can take glucomannan in the form of tablets or powder – both options are tasteless and are great additions to food and smoothies.
However, it is best to take glucomannan 15 to 30 minutes before a meal. This allows the gel to have enough time to expand and fill your stomach.
If you intend to lose weight, you can take 1gram three times daily (meaning 1gram before each meal).
If you have high cholesterol levels, you can take 1 gram four times daily (you can split between meals).
Although dosages up to 4 grams are well tolerated based on clinical findings, it is advisable to start on a lower dose, as with all fiber supplements.
Remember, glucomannan absorbs a lot of moisture, so when you take this supplement, always wash it down with a glass of water. Otherwise, it could begin to expand before it gets to your stomach.
Does Glucomannan Have Any Side Effects?
Glucomannan is a natural ingredient, and it is safe and well tolerated, as long as you take it within the recommended guidelines.
However, when you increase your fiber intake slowly, you may experience flatulence, bloating, or soft stools for a few days as your body adjusts to this new supplement routine. These symptoms are quite common within the first few days, but if they persist, you should consult your doctor.
Glucomannan is a dietary fiber that has been proven to offer a plethora of health benefits for weight loss, diabetes, high-cholesterol levels, constipation, and wound healing. This natural ingredient contains no additive, chemical or sweetener. You can enjoy it in capsule form or as powder supplements that you can add to your foods, drinks, and smoothies.
Remember to always stick to the recommended dosage of the manufacturer. And only buy from trusted brands that provide their proofs of third-party testing.
Lastly, remember to always consult your doctor before starting any supplement routine, especially when you’re on medication.
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