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The magic of Glucomanan

| 5 min read

The wait is over. There is now a natural ingredient that’s clinically proven to help you lose weight.

Get ready for this … Glucomannan, extracted from the root of the Konjac plant, has now been proven in clinical trials to aid weight loss. In fact, it is the only ingredient to be officially recognised by both the EU Commission (EFSA – European Food Standards Agency) and the American Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to contribute to helping us lose weight.

Specifically, researchers discovered 'Glucomannan induces body weight reduction in healthy overweight subjects’.⁴

Glucomannan is a natural plant fibre, found in the root of the Konjak plant. As well as being beneficial for our gut, it also expands in our stomach and makes us feel fuller for longer. As a consumable, it is ground into a powder. When taken before a meal it reduces our appetite and some people find it completely removes the desire to eat snacks.

A greater understanding of how glucomannan helps with weight loss

To understand the benefits of glucomannan, it’s important to have a basic understanding of fibre. Fibre is a form of carbohydrate that humans can’t digest, and therefore the only form of carbohydrate that doesn’t increase blood sugar levels.

Most people are aware that having sufficient fibre in the diet is important for our health, but may not realise that there are actually two kinds of fibre: soluble and insoluble. Each fibre type performs different roles in our wellbeing. The rough, insoluble fibre travels all the way through our digestive system and doesn’t get processed into energy. That said, it benefits the body as it promotes healthy microbiome – the home of our friendly gut bacteria – and helps us go to the toilet more regularly.

The other type of fibre is the soluble, viscous fibre, which dissolves in water, often forming a gel-like substance. It is naturally found in the walls of plant cells and has the ability to expand like a sponge. Glucomannan is now regarded as the king of viscous fibre and has the almost magical ability to absorb more than 50 times its weight in water.

When you consume glucomannan (with sufficient water) the glucomannan gel expands and expands inside the stomach, until our receptors sense the fullness, which triggers our satiety hormone known as ‘leptin’. If we then eat a meal approximately 30 minutes to an hour later, we consume less food as the brain has already received a signal to say it’s full. Plus, there is physically less room in the stomach. It’s kind of like a natural gastric band! All in all, glucomannan suppresses our appetite.

Once past the stomach and inside the intestines, this viscous fibre slows down the process of breaking down food, which in turn reduces the glycemic load of the entire meal. In other words, slowing down the release of sugar into the bloodstream. This means that the body doesn’t need to release as much of the fat building hormone insulin. Less insulin means less body fat. Less insulin means less type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, PCOS, NALFD, Alzheimer’s, heart disease and so many other diseases or syndromes caused by insulin resistance.

Glucomannan and Gut Health Glucomannan also feeds our gut’s friendly bacteria, which turn it into short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate. This makes it an effective prebiotic. A prebiotic is any ingredient that helps create a healthy gut microbiome so that healthy probiotics can flourish. A study by researchers from Chung Shan Medical University in Taiwan concluded that glucomannan significantly increased the so-called beneficial bacteria Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus, while levels of the potentially harmful bacteria, Clostridium decreased.²

Glucomannan Does Not Break a Fast If you like to intermittently fast as part of your wellbeing routine, the good news is that glucomannan does not break your fast. When taken with a large glass of water, while the water will congeal like a jelly, making you feel full, your body is unable to extract any energy from it, therefore it has not broken your fast.

Glucomannan Can Help Lower Cholesterol In clinical trials it has also been proven that consuming more than 4g of glucomannan per day also contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels. The National Library of Medicine in the USA reported on a piece of research titled 'The effect of glucomannan on plasma lipid and glucose concentrations, body weight, and blood pressure: systematic review and meta-analysis’ in which they concluded, ‘Glucomannan appears to beneficially affect total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, body weight, and fasting blood glucose.’

Glucomannan’s Anticancer Activity In 2019 Frontiers in Pharmacology undertook research titled 'A systematic Review Exploring the Anticancer Activity and Mechanisms of Glucomannan’ in which they discovered, ‘As a straight-chain polymer with few branches, glucomannan was first appreciated for its role in gastroenterological disorders and metabolic diseases. Much similar to other polysaccharide extracts from traditional Chinese herbs, recently, the potential of glucomannan involved in anti-cancer therapy is being revealed. Accumulating evidence suggests that glucomannan exhibits broad but specific anti-tumour effect, when distinct cancer types are concerned.’¹

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