Soluble fiber forms a soft gel when combined with water and
it is this property that makes soluble fiber such a wonderful health
giving substance. There are many benefits of taking soluble fiber
and this includes helping to lower cholesterol, slowing glucose
absorption, and promoting normal bowel activity.
Soluble fiber is found in many different foods. For a discussion
on the different sources of fiber please click
here. One of the most impressive forms of fiber is
called glucomannan. Derived from the konjac root, glucomannan has
an extraordinary ability to hold water within its molecular structure
and is one of the most viscous fibers known.
How does Glucomannan work?
As mentioned, earlier glucomannan can hold a large amount of water
creating a feeling of satiety or fullness as it swells in the stomach.
Glucomannan also delays stomach emptying and decreases carbohydrate
absorption, which slows down the release of the hormone insulin
bringing about a normalization of your blood glucose levels. Another
benefit of glucomannan is the lowering of blood cholesterol and
systolic blood pressure. Because of these effects glucomannan can
be very helpful for people with a condition called metabolic syndrome
(also known as syndrome X) or diabetes.
Glucomannan and the Glycemic Index
A recent study performed by the University of Toronto in Canada
looked at different forms of fiber and their ability to change the
glycemic index of certain foods. In the study participants were
asked to consume 3 grams of various fibers before taking a 20-gram
glucose challenge. The glycemic index of the group that received
no fiber was 100. This correlates to a large increase in blood glucose,
i.e. there was nothing to stop the quick absorption of the glucose
into the blood stream. Participants that consumed 3 grams of either
xanthan gum or psyllium saw only minor reduction of 6% and 3% in
the glycemic index respectively. In contrast to a 39% reductions
seen in a product that contained glucomannan along with other forms
Glucomannan- back in favor
Glucomannan is one of the nutrients that has suffered from inappropriate
advertising and marketing claims. In the 1980s a number of programs
promoted the quick weight loss effects of glucomannan. The Federal
Trade Commission in the US stepped in and aggressively dealt with
the compamnies that made these exagerated weight-loss claims. This
was reported in the media and glucomannan fell out of favor and
caused the public to think of it as a usealess supplement. This
could not be further from the truth.
Glucomannan's role in a weight loss program is well researched
and well understood. A recent research study showed conclusively
that supplementing with glucomannan had the same weight-loss benefits
as a calorie restricted diet. In fact, the study showed that glucomannan
has the ability to promote weight loss in obese adults even in the
absence of a calorie restricted diet. The average weight loss in
the group of obese adults that took 1 gram of glucomannan as compared
to the control was 5.5 pounds in 6 weeks. This was without any changes
in diet and exercise patterns.
Although it does not make fat people thin, glucomannan has a significant
role to play in any weight-loss program.