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Can Glucomannan Help You Get Healthy?
Glucomannan is becoming increasingly popular as an ingredient and supplement, in part because of its many alleged health benefits. While sweeping claims should always be viewed with suspicion, there is some evidence that glucomannan may be a valuable addition to a healthy lifestyle.
There are not a lot of calories in glucomannan. It is low in carbohydrates, protein and fat, and it does not have much in the way of vitamins and minerals. What it is, however, is a type of dietary fiber, which makes it essential to keeping our digestive system running smoothly. In particular, as a type of water-soluble fiber, it helps other foods travel through the digestive system more easily, allowing the body to absorb nutrients before efficiently expelling the waste.
The lack of calories in glucomannan makes it an ideal substitute for carbohydrates in noodles, pasta and rice if you are following the Atkins or a ketogenic diet. Examples include Zero Noodles and Zero Noodles Rice.
You can also take glucomannan as a supplement, where it can easily be added to drinks or other food as a tasteless powder, making it a simple and safe addition to meals.
One of the prime areas where you will see glucomannan used is as a weight loss supplement. It is not a substitute for a balanced diet (remember, it has a low nutrient content, so you still have to get your protein, vitamins and minerals somewhere else) and it does not remove the need to exercise, but there is evidence that it can help you feel fuller after eating and therefore less likely to consume overly large portions.
This is because glucomannan turns into a thick gel in your stomach, taking up lots of space while stopping unnecessary fat from being absorbed by the body. A particularly high viscosity means glucomannan may be even better at sating hunger than other dietary fibers.
Losing weight is often recommended as a way to reduce your risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Glucomannan may be able to help even more than that, though, because it may be able to lower your blood sugar. Again, this has to do with how it slows the process of emptying the stomach and absorbing nutrients. If you are already diabetic, you should still be careful to monitor your blood sugar after consuming glucomannan as there is a risk it may drop too far.
Cholesterol can come in both good and bad forms, and the bad type can clog up your arteries with fat. This can lead to an increase in your risk of developing a variety of conditions, including potentially life-threatening ones like heart attacks and strokes. The slow absorption rates in the stomach caused by glucomannan also apply to LDL and triglycerides (bad cholesterol), which means less of it will be traveling into your bloodstream to cause further problems. There does not appear to be an effect on good cholesterol, known as HDL.
Perhaps not surprisingly as it is a form of fiber, glucomannan can help stop you from becoming constipated. Once you have absorbed any nutrients from your food, glucomannan encourages any leftover waste to leave the body through the bowels quickly and easily.
Possible side effects
No food or supplement is completely without risks, especially if you consume too much of it. Glucomannan is relatively safe, but you should always be careful with your dosage size (glucomannan generally needs a fairly small dose compared to similar products). Mild side effects may include flatulence, bloating and diarrhea. More severe side effects include a risk of choking if you do not take your glucomannan with an adequate amount of water. This is because it may expand to block your throat before it reaches your stomach.
If you have any concerns about glucomannan, or if you are taking any medication or have other health conditions that may interact with it, make sure you talk to your doctor before adding it to your diet. This will alleviate the risk of any unexpected side effects and ensure you are as safe as possible at all times.
You cannot live on glucomannan alone, but as part of a balanced diet and combined with regular exercise, it may be able to help you achieve favorable outcomes with regards to your weight, blood sugar and cholesterol levels, all of which may make a positive contribution to your overall health. Just be sure to be careful with dosage instructions and follow all relevant medical advice.