Glucomannan is a dietary fibre that is water-soluble. It is derived from the konjac root of the Amorphophallus konjac plant. Glucomannan is often used as a food additive to increase thickness or as an emulsifier. Due to its various properties, several products, which contain glucomannan, are sold on the market as dietary or nutritional supplements. These products have been marketed to those with health problems such as Type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, constipation, and even acne.
Because of the high soluble fibre content of konjac glucomannan, it has been used in the treatment of chronic constipation. Patient’s who used glucomannan supplements experienced easier bowel movements and few side effects, partly owing to decreased time from food ingestion to bowel movement. In obese patients with high cholesterol, glucomannan showed significant changes in blood cholesterol levels. Decreases in low-density lipoproteins, triglycerides, and systolic blood pressure were noted among subjects taking the product.
For sufferers of Type 2 diabetes, when taken with their regular medications, glucomannan showed improvements in lipid levels and blood sugar levels. As mentioned, cholesterol and lipid levels in the body were impacted by glucomannan supplements. This effect was not lost on marketing teams; products directed at weight loss were created with modest results. Those taking the supplements reported noticeable weight loss, no side effects, and feeling more satiated.
This decrease in cholesterol in the body is caused by the high soluble fibre content of glucomannan. Soluble fibre in the digestive tract absorbs lipids, binding them. This leaves less fat to be absorbed, and literally eliminates them from the body. In diabetes patients, soluble fibres keep blood sugar levels stable by slowing the movement of food out of the stomach. Sugars are released at a slower, steady rate which, in turn, decreases lipid levels from increasing too high, allowing them to prevent insulin from uptaking sugar into the cells.
Health Canada released a health advisory in 2010 stating that products containing glucomannan could potentially cause harm if it is not taken with at least 250mL of water. The risks include choking or blockage of the intestine, esophagus, or throat. Health Canada advises that products that contain glucomannan be labelled clearly with safety information. As well, the FDA does not approve glucomannan products for any of the above health benefits, nor are there any clinical data to support the claims made.
As a popular ingredient in Asia, it has been added to several foods from noodles to tofu. Glucomannan is low in carbohydrates and has a low glycemic index making it suitable for those with diabetes. It can be found in several supplements along with products like daily vitamins and herbs. Some of the more common forms are as capsules or powder. One of the better known brands that offer glucomannan capsules is Nature’s way. They offer capsules that are to be taken before meals to decrease appetite and promote weight loss which is offered at the cost of about $14 for 100 capsules. The powder form can also be purchased at the price of around $20 for 500 grams which can be taken with water or used as a thickener in meals.
Is Konjac Root Nature’s Way to Help Curb Your Cravings?
It is no secret that the health care market is becoming increasingly populated by all types of vitamins and supplements that promise consumers elusive and enticing health benefits such as weight loss. But certain synthetic supplements have serious side effects, which has paved the way for all natural products to become even more popular. Konjac Root ,a plant derived appetite suppressant, is an excellent example of such a product.
So where does it come from? Konjac root is a source of fiber that originates from East Asia and is specifically extracted from the Amorphophallus Konjac plant. Konjac root contains a unique type of soluble fiber known as Glucomannan, which is named as such because it is composed of both glucose and galactose. Glucomannan is particularly special because it is one of the most effective water absorbing fibers. Because of this, it has a very potent bulking effect in the digestive system which helps people feel full sooner, thus leading them to eat less. It is primarily for this reason that Konjac Root is such an effective weight loss supplement, but its’ benefits go beyond weight loss.
Soluble fibers like the Glucomannan found in Konjac Root are also able to prolong the transit time of food in the digestive system, which means that food items are digested more slowly, effectively and efficiently. This offers up a great benefit to those who seek assistance in regulating unstable blood sugar levels, which are caused by food being absorbed and released too quickly into the blood stream. Various clinical studies support the finding that Konjac Root has potential as a glycemic regulator, and also as an all natural laxative agent. Because of its excellent ability to absorb water, Konjac Fiber is effective at promoting the formation of large stools which can be passed more easily.
If this sounds like something you would like to try you will be happy to know that acquiring Konjac Root is relatively easy and can be done online for relatively cheap or even free shipping. Certain companies, like Nature’s Way, may also offer coupons or incentives when purchasing products such as Konjac Root, which usually comes in the form of caps or capsules, but can also be purchased as Konjac Flour. Although Konjac Root is relatively safe, there are some mild side effects associated with excessive over-use of the product. Because Konjac Root so effective at absorption and passing of food items, certain vitamins and minerals may also be carried out of your system. These side effects can be easily eliminated by reducing your dosage and by carefully following the instructions on the package, which will likely vary among different supplements and products.
Jackie Hogan, MS, RD is a registered dietitian based in Los Angeles. She is a member of the California Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (CAND-LAD) and the Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Practice Group and Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Jackie has been featured on Women’s Health, Fitness Magazine, Women’s Fitness, and Men’s Fitness magazine.