What is glucomannan and how can it benefit your health?
Glucomannan is a water-soluble plant fibre extracted from the root of the konjac plant or elephant yam in Southeast Asia and consists of mannose and glucose sugars. It’s often used as a bulking agent in foods, especially in Southeast Asia where it’s used to make things like noodles and herbal mixtures, as well as remedies to treat conditions like asthma.
It’s been used for centuries in traditional Japanese cooking and is highly prized for having a number of benefits. Its nickname is apparently “the broom of the intestines” which gives you an idea of how good it is for your gut and general health!
Why should we be taking glucomannan?
Glucomannan is a renowned source of fibre and as we’re often told, fibre is essential for your digestive system to function at its best, as well as helping to lower your risk of developing serious diseases.
Fibre is a complex carbohydrate, which means it can’t be absorbed by the small intestine – instead it gets broken down in the large intestine. If you’re dealing with constipation, fibres like glucomannan bulk up the food in your gut, so it can pass easily along the intestines for normal bowel movements.
While many sources of fibre are recommended for gut health, glucomannan is renowned for its exceptional ability to absorb water, so much so that a small amount can turn an entire glass of water into a gel. This makes is particularly good for maintaining a healthy weight, as it gives the stomach a feeling of being full and helps stave off hunger pangs. A study by the University of Tromso in Norway reported that people lost more weight by taking glucomannan than other high-fibre supplements. And research by the University of Reading suggested that glucomannan works well as a prebiotic, helping to encourage growth of ‘friendly’ bacteria in the gut – such as bifidobacterium – which in turn has a positive effect on our immune system.
Glucomannan helps to control blood sugar levels, as it slows the absorption of sugar into the blood through the intestines, so you don’t suddenly have insulin spikes then a ‘sugar crash’, leading to lethargy and hunger pangs. This can also help prevent diabetes, as well as help control sugar levels for those who already have the condition.
And if you’re concerned about heart disease, glucomannan can help here too. According to The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, it can reduce levels of total cholesterol and cause a drop in harmful LDL cholesterol, too. Their research suggested that it does this by altering how our liver produces cholesterol and how our body stores and uses fat.
How is it possible to get more glucomannan in your diet
Mixing one gram of glucommannan with water before meals can help you feel full and maintain a healthy weight. It’s important to wash it down with several glasses of water so that it doesn’t overly solidify and cause intestinal blockages. Another thing to be mindful of, is that it can prevent certain medications from being absorbed into your gut, so it’s important to wait four hours after taking any medicines before getting your glucommanan fix.
You can also find glucomannan in our award-winning Protein Smoothie, which combines this hardworking fibre with organic pea protein for heart health and muscle building, together with antioxidant-rich green tea to boost immunity and inulin probiotics (i.e. “friendly bacteria”) to keep your digestive system performing at its best. Blended with water or your favourite plant milk, it’s ideal to drink before or after a workout to maintain energy levels, for weight management or if you want to curb sugar cravings while at work!
Read more about all the great benefits of our Protein Smoothie here.