Lose Weight? Control Hunger? Get to Know the Konjac.

Lose Weight? Control Hunger? Get to Know the Konjac.

Glucomannan is a weight loss weapon!

When studying nutrition across human society, it is wise to look at cultures that have broadly good health and find out what they can teach us about living better. One thing that always stands out is the comparative health of indigenous peoples like African tribesman or Australian aboriginals compared to modern societies. They have no obesity, and are remarkably free of pervasive western diseases like diabetes, cancer, heart-related or degenerative illnesses.

So what is different in their diets that makes them so much healthier?

It turns out that the answer if fairly simple. When scientists (again, we love quoting Dr Weston A. Price) researched differences between traditional (hunter/gatherer) African and modern, western diets, they found one particularly glaring fact. The stool of westerners was an average of 8 times smaller than that of the studied Africans! Even more surprising was that despite consuming more weight of food each day, they were not overweight and had none of the illnesses.

The typical tribesman diet is very high in roots, fruits, and fibrous vegetables. And this is the key. Fiber! Typical westerners are lucky to get 5-10 grams of fiber per day, whereas traditional peoples can average up to 100 grams and more.

But it's not just a matter of quantity.

A high fiber diet that is based on grains can cause its own kind of problems. High levels of phytic acid contained in insoluble fiber traps key nutrients and prevents the body from utilizing them. Insoluble fiber from grains is useful as a cleaning mechanism, but because it does not get digested, it is not providing significant nutrients, and can cause inflammatory responses in the body.

Dr. Natasha Campbell McBride (The Gut and Psychology Syndrome), writes: “A diet high in fiber from grains (brans and breakfast cereals in particular) has a profound negative effect on the gut flora, gut health and general body metabolism, predisposing the person to IBS, bowel cancer, nutritional deficiencies, and many other problems. Fruit and vegetables provide a much better quality fiber that is not as harsh on the digestive system.”

Fiber from vegetables, roots, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds is soluble and that's where the benefits lie. Bacteria in your stomach metabolizes the fiber in these foods (prebiotic), using the nutrients to make vitamins and minerals, and resulting in benefits like helping lower cholesterol, balance blood sugar, balance hormone levels, protect against cancer, and plenty more.

Soluble fiber is crucial to good heath and potent for weight control!

Science tells us that fiber not only prevents obesity but also slows aging by lowering the rate at which food enters your bloodstream and increasing elimination through the digestive system (Long-term animal feeding trial of the refined konjac meal. II. Effects of the refined konjac meal on the aging of the brain, liver, and cardiovascular tissue cells in rats. Peng SS1, Zhang MY, Zhang YZ, Wu ZH; Biomed Environ Sci. 1995 Mar.) It helps maintain blood sugar and cholesterol in ideal balance, removes toxins from your gut, and very effectively reduces your appetite.

Konjac -- not just the pinnacle of fiber sources, but also popularized by Dr Oz and others as an ideal way to lose weight.

Amorphophallus konjac (konjac) is a tropical perennial plant whose curious appearance earned it the name Devils Tongue. It has been in use in east Asia as both a food and a medicine (mainly for purifying the blood) for over 2000 years. In Japan it became so popular that it had a cook book entirely devoted to its recipes. (J Ethnopharmacol. 2010 Mar 24; Traditional uses and potential health benefits of Amorphophallus konjac K. Koch ex N.E.Br. Chua M1, Baldwin TC, Hocking TJ, Chan K.)

Glucomannan (GM) is a soluble, highly viscous dietary fiber that comes from the root of the Konjac plant, heralded as simply the best, most beneficial source of fiber.

Remarkably, it can absorb up to 50 times its weight in water!

GM's primary effect is to create a sense of fullness without any bloating by forming a soft gel and filling up your digestive system with low-calorie bulk (thereby lowering the caloric content per weight of food you consume) and sending satiety signals to the brain. Because it is so viscous and leaves the stomach and bowels slowly, it also slows the rate of food absorption into the bloodstream, thus reducing the amount of insulin produced after a meal.

Furthermore it helps more calories pass through your colon without being absorbed, lowering overall caloric intake. It may also increase the level of certain hormones in the gut that control hunger. It attaches itself to bile acids in the gastrointestinal system and then carries them out as excrement, which causes the body to convert other cholesterol into bile acids, thereby lowering cholesterol and reducing amounts of other fats in the blood.

Studies show that these are critical factors in weight control (Effect of One Week of Fibre Supplementation on Hunger and Satiety Ratings and Energy Intake; W.J. Pasman, W.H.M. Saris, M.A.J. Wauters, M.S. Westerterp-Planteng.) Dr Oz claims it is "one of the best ways to control your hunger," and "nature's skinny sponge." In Japan, where it has been a staple for centuries, it is called "the broom of the intestines."

A double-blind test of 20 women who were more than 20% overweight found glucomannan to be more effective than placebo at promoting weight loss. Without changing their eating or exercise habits, one group took 1 g of glucomannan 3 times a day for 8 weeks and lost an average of 5.5 pounds during that period, while those in the placebo group gained an average of 1.5 pounds. The glucomannan group also had a reduction of total and LDL cholesterol as well as triglyceride levels.

There are plenty of such studies, and although not all results are positive, 1000s of years of traditional use concurs that we are on to something really beneficial with GM.

So we highly recommend considering adding konjac to your diet if you are looking to trim down. It is most readily available from Asian food markets (look for shirataki noodles), but supplements utilizing GM for both weight loss and promoting general health have been shown to be effective. Make sure to pick a high quality powdered supplement form (capsules are better than tablets.)

Just be aware that you need to drink plenty of water, and if you are already taking medications, especially for cholesterol or blood glucose control, consult your doctor first. Make sure to not to take medications after consuming GM as it can absorb the drugs.

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Easier Weight Loss - Tips for Losing Weight Without Struggling 
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References:
Walsh DE, Yaghoubian V, Behforooz A. Effect of glucomannan on obese patients: A clinical study. Int J Obes. 1984;8:289-293.
Bourden I, Yokoyama W, Davis P, et al. Postprandial lipid, glucose, insulin, and cholecystokinin responses in men fed barley pasta enriched with beta-glucan. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999;69:55-63.
Baer DJ, Rumpler WV, Miles CW, Fahey GCJ. Dietary fiber decreases the metabolizable energy content and nutrient digestibility of mixed diets fed to humans. J Nutr. 1997;127: 579-586.
Chen H-L, Sheu WH, Tai T-S, Liaw Y-P, Chen Y-C. Konjac supplement alleviated hypercholesterolemia and hyperglycemia in type 2 diabetic subjects–a randomized double-blind trial. J Am Coll Nutr. 2003;22(1):36-42.
Reffo GC, Ghirardi PE, Forattini C. Glucomannan in hypertensive outpatients: Pilot clinical trial. Curr Ther Res. 1988; 44(1):22-27.
Salas-Salvadó J, Farrés X, et al.; Effect of two doses of a mixture of soluble fibres on body weight and metabolic variables in overweight or obese patients: a randomised trial. Br J Nutr. 2008 Jun.



The opinions expressed in this article are of the author. Content and other information presented on the site are not meant to be medical advice or any substitute for professional advice, counseling, diagnosis, or treatment. Never delay or disregard professional medical or mental health advice from your physician or other qualified health provider.


1 Comments

    • Avatar
      henry h
      Aug 12, 2014

      Very useful post, thanks. I need to lose some pounds, so I am gonna pick up some shiritaki noodles in short order and see how that goes.

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