One of my favourite superfibres, widely used in Asia but not in the UK, is glucomannan, the soluble fibre in konjac. Glucomannan absorbs 50 times more water than wheat bran, bulking up the food you eat, making you feel fuller for longer. Because of its highly absorbent properties it is very important to take it with a lot of water. This highly absorbent property means two things – firstly, it helps eliminate cholesterol by binding to it in the digestive tract, but the real gold of glucomannan is its ability to lower the glycemic load of a meal, and hence help to lower blood sugar naturally.
A study in Thailand found that giving 1 gram of glucommanan before meals significantly lowered the GL, and the need for insulin, in people with type 2 diabetes. Other studies have shown that glucommanan lowers cholesterol and also stabilises blood sugar, which is associated with improving insulin sensitivity. It’s also a brilliant aid for healthy weight loss. Following reports of weight loss in Japan, a US study reported an additional 1lb weight loss a week when patients took 3g of glucomannan a day.
At the Institute for Optimum Nutrition, we decided to put glucomannan to the test by giving 3g a day to 10 overweight people over a three-month period. None made any apparent change to their diet or exercise regime. Nine completed the trial, with an average weight loss of 6.6lb each. A review of all studies to date, in 2005, concludes ‘At doses of 2-4 g per day, glucomannan was well-tolerated and resulted in significant weight loss in overweight and obese individuals.’ You need about 3 grams, or a flat teaspoon for this kind of effect. This would be the equivalent to three capsules, perhaps two or three times a day, before main meals.
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