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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 of fiber.

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.


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