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What is Glucomannan and Can It Improve Your Health?

  • 5 min read


by Matt Weik, BS, CSCS, CPT, CSN

Have you ever heard of glucomannan? No? Me neither until I stumbled upon it while researching fiber online.

Glucomannan, a plant-based fiber, is commonly used for weight loss. When ingested, it undergoes a fascinating transformation, forming a gel-like substance in the stomach. This gel slows down digestion, helping you feel full for longer periods between meals.

Besides helping in weight loss, glucomannan can also ease constipation by softening and moisturizing stools to promote easier bowel movements.

You can find glucomannan supplements in capsules, tablets, or powder forms at pharmacies, health food stores, and online.

In this article, we will dive deeper and learn more about glucomannan and its many benefits.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not meant to treat or diagnose any condition. It is recommended that you speak with your doctor before making any changes to your nutrition plan or supplement regimen.

What Is Glucomannan?

Glucomannan, available in various forms like supplements, drink mixes, and food products, is widely recognized for its versatility. It’s a key component in shirataki noodles and constitutes a significant portion of the dry weight of the elephant yam, which is native to Southeast Asia.

Historically, it’s been used in herbal remedies and traditional foods such as tofu, noodles, and konjac jelly.

Beyond its role as a dietary supplement, glucomannan is also a food additive, functioning as an emulsifier and thickener. Its ability to absorb water makes it highly viscous and capable of transforming liquids into gels, which is thought to contribute to its effects on weight loss.

The Many Benefits of Glucomannan

Extensive research on glucomannan’s health benefits provides a solid foundation for its use. When used as directed, it is generally considered safe, instilling confidence in its potential advantages.

Let’s jump into the scientific research that supports the use of glucomannan.

1.     Weight loss

Being that glucomannan is a fiber source, it is conducive to a healthy waistline. Having I in your diet may help with weight loss by inducing a sense of fullness and reducing the likelihood of overeating.

A study published in the British Journal of Nutrition in 2007 found that participants who took a supplement containing glucomannan and psyllium husk lost around 10 pounds over 16 weeks, compared to just 1.7 pounds lost by the placebo group.

Another study focusing solely on glucomannan showed an average weight loss of 5.5 pounds over an eight-week period, even without altering diet or lifestyle habits.

A clinical study involving 176 overweight adults discovered that adding glucomannan to a reduced-calorie diet led to a significant increase in weight loss compared to a placebo.

However, when compared to other types of fibers, the study found little variation in their effects compared to glucomannan.

2.     May reduce cholesterol

Glucomannan creates a protective layer around food, which hinders the absorption of cholesterol and bile acid. Additionally, it slows down stomach emptying and delays glucose circulation in the intestines. These properties, common among soluble dietary fibers like glucomannan, contribute to positive effects on blood sugar levels.

Studies have demonstrated that using glucomannan supplements can lower blood glucose and cholesterol levels in both healthy individuals and those with diabetes. A 2008 review found that glucomannan can lower total cholesterol levels and decrease levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol as well.

Scientists proposed that glucomannan achieves this by modifying the production of cholesterol in the liver and influencing the storage or usage of fats in the body for energy.

3.     It may relieve constipation

Supplementing with glucomannan may help regulate bowel movements and relieve constipation.

Research from 2017 revealed that glucomannan supplementation improved the frequency of bowel movements in children with constipation.

Similarly, a 2018 study indicated that glucomannan supplementation could alleviate constipation symptoms in pregnant women. It increased stool frequency and improved consistency, offering potential relief.

4.     Diabetes

According to researchers, glucomannan may contribute to a more gradual absorption of sugar, thereby reducing spikes in blood sugar levels.

In a study involving 22 diabetic subjects, this fiber was found to decrease blood glucose levels and cholesterol.

Similarly, in two separate studies involving 20 diabetic adults each, glucomannan intake before a meal led to a decrease in blood sugar level spikes and reduced appetite by lowering ghrelin.

Additionally, glucomannan-enriched food was observed to lower blood sugar levels in patients with type 2 diabetes.

In another study involving 11 type 2 diabetic patients, while this supplement didn’t reduce blood sugar, it lowered the total HDL cholesterol ratio and blood pressure.

5.     Skin health

Glucomannan may contribute to maintaining hydrated and healthy skin. It’s said to act as a natural probiotic, providing fuel for the skin’s microbiome, thereby helping to maintain balance.

While research on its effectiveness is limited, a 2013 study suggested that glucomannan could enhance overall skin health and potentially alleviate acne symptoms.

In another study, it was observed that glucomannan reduced UV-induced skin redness in five human volunteers.