Soluble fibers such as Glucommannan and Konjac root fibers offer many health-promoting benefits through their ability to form a soft gel with water. Health benefit research indicates that soluble fibers such as Glumannan may help lower blood cholesterol, slow glucose absorption, lowers the Glycemic index and promote regular bowel movements. While found in many sources such as fruits, vegetables, oats, and beans, the most-promising soluble fiber may come from Glucomannan. Derived from konjac root, glucomannan has an extraordinary water-holding capacity and is the most viscous of all known dietary fibers.
Glucomannan offers benefits for those seeking to lose weight. Studies show that supplementing with glucomannan enhances the weight-loss effects of a calorie-restricted diet. Glucomannan may promote weight loss in obese adults, even in the absence of a calorie-restricted diet. When obese adults consumed 1 gram of glucomannan fiber one hour before each meal for eight weeks, they lost an average of 5.5 pounds of body weight—with no other changes to their eating or exercise patterns.
Glucomannan creates a feeling of satiety or fullness through its water-binding effects. By creating a thick gel, glucomannan delays gastric emptying and slows the release of sugar into the bloodstream, which helps to lower levels of insulin and blood glucose. Additionally, glucomannan improves blood-lipid profiles and can lower systolic blood pressure. Because of these effects, glucomannan can greatly benefit individuals with metabolic syndrome or diabetes.
The Importance Supplementing with Glucomannan Konjac root fibers
The average American currently consumes only 12-17 grams of fiber a day from dietary sources, far below the 20-35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association and the 30 grams or more suggested by both the American Heart Association and the National Cancer Institute.
Since many people do not want to change or cannot change their diets, supplements and natural fiber products can help them benefit from fiber’s many beneficial effects. Supplemental fiber products can provide optimal combinations and amounts of fiber, as well as complementary nutrients such as calcium. Incorporating increased fiber intake into a daily plan for healthy living can help you lower your risk of heart attack and cancer, as well as prevent or manage such common conditions as hypertension and diabetes mellitus. Moreover, fiber is a valuable tool in achieving optimal weight.
With increased fiber intake, some people may experience gastrointestinal discomfort or changes such as increased or loose bowel movements. This is simply the body’s period of adjustment to the introduction of greater amounts of dietary fiber. Medical professionals recommend adding fiber to the diet gradually until the body adjusts. Moreover, because soluble fibers form a gel with water, it is important to drink plenty of water with fiber supplements. Abundant water intake will help to optimize fiber’s actions in the body and prevent ill effects such as dehydration or constipation.
Glucomannan is already available as a Konjac root fiber manan dietary supplement. Asian women have claimed for years that it helps them maintain a desired weight, and more and more Americans are determined to find out if it's true. Glucomannan is a polysaccharide, which means that chemically it is made up of simple sugars—specifically, mannose and glucose. It is also a soluble fiber and can absorb up to 200 times its weight in water.
Konjac root fiber helps reduces blood fats, discourages weight gain, helps to keep blood sugar levels normal, and relieves constipation. When ingested, it takes on a jelly-like consistency and expands to make the stomach feel full. People are therefore satiated more quickly and are less likely to overeat, according to results of trials in which obese patients were put on calorie-restricted diets and glucomannan. In addition, like most food fiber, glucomannan acts as a bulking agent in the colon, which stimulates peristalsis (the muscular movement that causes bowel evacuation).
Glucomannan Clinical Research Studies
Clinical studies confirm that glucomannan in konjac mannan lowers cholesterol—both total cholesterol and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol—without affecting diastolic blood pressure.
In one double-blind trial, ten days of treatment with Konjac root Glucomannan returned the bowel habits of patients with chronic constipation to normal. Another study showed that patients given either 3 or 4 grams daily noted an average increase of three and six more bowel movements per week, respectively, without additional diarrhea or flatulence.
Konjac glucomannan helped to keep glucose at optimal levels in baboon blood, suggesting that it may help control glucose levels in diabetics. A recent study indicates that this is likely to be true: When used along with conventional treatment, Konjac root glucomannan fiber not only helped normalize and maintain blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes, it also lowered both cholesterol and systolic blood pressure.
Experimental studies also indicate that it may protect against certain types of cancer. For those of us over the age of 60, this is welcome news. When elderly people are given glucomannan powder and fiber, the bacteria in the gut changes and encourages the growth of the so-called "good bacteria" such as Bifidobacterium. Increases in good bacteria are associated with a reduction in pro-cancerous nitrosamines, proteins thought to be responsible for the development of liver cancer and other cancers. Good bacteria also encourage better gut motility—motion, including peristalsis that leads to a bowel movement — thereby helping to move waste products out of the body before they can promote cancer or other illnesses.
Studies on diabetic rats indicate that long-term supplementation with konjac glucomannan may help prevent heart attacks and strokes in people who have diabetes. In diabetic rats put on diets high in cholesterol, glucomannan prevented the formation of aortal plaques, deposits that increase heart disease risk. Glucomannan may do this in humans, too, by reducing LDL cholesterol and blood sugar levels.
Like many soluble fibers, glucomannan can bind with a variety of substances in the digestive tract to slow digestion, relieve constipation and reduce the absorption of fat and carbohydrates. As such, glucomannan is often used in products intended to reduce blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels as well as blood sugar. Because it can absorb a great deal of water and promote a feeling of fullness, glucomannan is frequently used in supplements intended to promote weight loss.
Glucomannan Safety and Side Effects
Like other soluble fibers, glucomannan has the potential to bind with and reduce the absorption of certain nutrients - so a daily multivitamin supplement may be advisable for individuals consuming high doses of gluco-mannan Konjac root fiber on a regular basis.