What Is Glucomannan?
Glucomannan is a dietary fiber extracted from the konjac roglot.
Also known as elephant yam, devil’s tongue, snake palm and voodoo lily, konjac is native to China and cultivated throughout tropical areas in Asia, including Taiwan and Indonesia. In Japan people use its tubers to make noodles called shirataki.
A rich source of fiber, glucomannan benefits your digestion, heart health and more.
Weight Loss and Glucomannan
Glucomannan is most well-known as a weight loss supplement. Studies suggest it promotes weight loss in otherwise healthy overweight individuals when taken before meals (x).
Another study examined the effects of glucomannan powder supplementation against other fiber supplements, including guar gum and alginate. The study showed that glucomannan for weight loss proved to be effective, whereas the other supplements were not as effective in aiding weight loss (x).
So how does it work? As a type of fiber, glucomannan improves satiety–a feeling of fullness and satisfaction after eating. This makes it less likely that you’ll overeat, which can potentially aid in weight loss.
As a water soluble fiber, glucomannan pulls water into the digestive system and slows digestion (x). This makes it easier for your body to absorb crucial nutrients during the digestive process. It also acts a laxative, relieving constipation by bulking stool (x).
Glucomannan also acts as a probiotic. Throughout your digestive system are billions of microorganisms–including bacteria–that keep everything running smoothly. Occasionally, the levels of good and bad bacteria become unbalanced, leading to digestive distress.
But glucomannan restores this balance, fermenting in the digestive system and feeding the good bacteria you need for proper digestion (x). Prebiotics, like glucomannan, are important for supporting healthy and regular bowel function, immune strength and even heart health (x).
Around 95 million adults in the United States have high cholesterol, and of those that require medication to lower their cholesterol to a safe level, barely more than half are taking the necessary medications (x).
In addition to medication and careful monitoring by a medical professional, glucomannan could help lower cholesterol, benefiting overall heart health.
Glucomannan is a soluble fiber, which means it helps lower cholesterol by binding to cholesterol molecules. Once they bind to the gelatinous soluble fiber, your body excretes them through the bowels instead of pumping them into your blood.
Not only does glucomannan benefit your heart by lowering “bad” (LDL) cholesterol levels, but it may also reduce triglyceride levels and lower blood sugar (x).
Did You Know?
- Throughout Asia, people process konjac into either a flour or jelly- like substance and use it in recipes. Its starchy texture and high soluble fiber content make it well suited for a variety of dishes.
- If you add glucomannan powder to your smoothie, it will make the blend thicker and creamier, and provide an excellent source of fiber.
Glucomannan Side Effects
Provided you adhere to the recommended dosage, glucomannan is safe to take for healthy adults.
Taking too much glucomannan, especially without adequate water intake, can cause the supplement to swell and become lodged in the throat or in the digestive tract. For this reason, drink plenty of liquid to ensure the powder completely dissolves when you take it.
Minor digestive upset, such as bloating and flatulence, may occur. Talk to your doctor before taking glucomannan if you are nursing or pregnant, or if you have diabetes. You should also check with your doctor before taking glucomannan supplements to ensure they won’t interact with any medications.
Glucomannan supplements are available as weight loss complexes or in pure form as capsules, tablets and blends. If you opt for glucomannan powder, take 2 g (3/4 tsp) 1-2 times daily with at least 8 oz of water, or as directed by your physician. Best taken 30 minutes before a meal.
Because the powder is fibrous and bulky, make sure it completely dissolves in liquid before you take it.
The Bottom Line
A natural source of soluble fiber, glucomannan supports weight loss, healthy digestion and cardiovascular health. Supplements shouldn’t replace sound medical advice or the medications your doctor prescribes you, but they can play an important role in keeping you healthy. With few reported side effects and a sound scientific track record, glucomannan could help you shed those last few pounds while keeping your heart and gut healthy.