Although konjac root (glucomannan) has long been used in China, Japan and South East Asia as a food source and as a traditional medicine, Western researchers have only been recently interested in Glucomannan’s health benefits…
Glucomannan powder from our piils is highly absorbent, and can suck up tremendous amounts of liquid. In an article on glucomannan, T-Nation included a video showing just how much a wee bit of Glucomannan expands when water is added.
Studies looking at adding Glucomannan to calorie-restricted diets have consistently found that GM groups lose more fat than the non-fiber’d up groups. In one study (Birketvedt GS, et al. 2005), the GM group dropped an additional .8/kg (1.75 lb) on average over 5 weeks compared to the control group.
This effect of feeling full is not necessarily obvious — having a full gut does not always leave one feeling satisfied. As many dieters know, a stomach that’s simply stretched (e.g. from being full of water) doesn’t necessarily result in a lack of desire to eat more. “Mechanical” fullness doesn’t always mean “real” satisfaction.
However, a study of people with Type 2 diabetes (Grill 2010) showed that key hunger signals (such as ghrelin) decreased after taking a meal with Glucomannan in it. Glucomannan seems to trip sensors in the gut/brain to tell them that less food is more satisfying.
Along with its effects on physical fullness, Glucomannan may improve satiety and fat loss by improving our blood sugar and lipid profile.
One review (Keithley and Swanson 2005) found that 2-4 g of Glucomannan each day enhanced dieters’ weight loss efforts, along with other positive side effects like improved blood lipids, carb tolerance, and satiety. Being better able to handle starchy carbs means better insulin sensitivity, which means better appetite control and fewer blood sugar swings or cravings.
One of the earliest findings with Glucomannan (Walsh 1984) showed lower serum cholesterol and LDL. And compared to one of the most popular soluble fiber supplements, psyllium, Glucomannan seems to have better overall results on blood lipids.
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Gut health is an indicator of overall well being. This includes good gastric motility (stuff moving through the pipes) and a healthy bacterial flora. (Indeed, gut dysbiosis, or an overgrowth/imbalance of the wrong bacterial types, has been connected to obesity.)
Lowcarb dieters know the nightmare that is a good bowel movement while the body adjusts to lower intakes of grains and other sources of fiber. Tolerable bowel movements while eating less food can be a challenge.
Lots of dieters try psyllium husk or bran as a solution to constipation.
But along with choosing higher-fiber whole foods, going the soluble fiber route with Glucomannan may be a better choice.
Besides regular bowel movements, a study (Chen 2006) found that the group using Glucomannan also showed a significant increase in helpful bifidobacteria, lactobacilli and total bacteria — the friendly gut bacteria we want.
The Glucomannan supplement also promoted colonic fermentation, as shown in the decreased fecal pH. That’s a good thing.
Probiotic foods (such as sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, etc.) along with Glucomannan have been shown to reduce acne. (Take the capsules, don’t smear it on your face.)
No food/supplement overview would be complete without evaluating its influence on cancer. Glucomannan’s benefits for gastrointestinal flora may help reduce precancerous risk factors of colon cancer.
Glucomannan may help with hyperthyroid symptoms, as a controlled study done 2 years ago show this.
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