What is konjac?
Konjac is a root vegetable crop that looks like an unusually-shaped potato. The bunch of this plant is the part of the plant that germinates underground, containing a soluble fifber known as glucomannan. Its soluble fiber is well known to absorb water to form a gel-like structure and slows down digestion processes. It can also help reduce glucose levels and blood cholesterol. Soluble fiber is embedded in oats, apples, beans, carrots, citrus fruits, and psyllium.
It is available in vegan gelatin, a jelly form (as candies), or a thick drink is often known as konjac jelly. Konjac is also utilized as a food thickener or emulsifier, or it can be dehydrated and used as flour to prepare noodles. It is also often found as a dietary supplement in pill form to be added into a drink mixture.
Glucomannan is a soluble fiber and complex sugar. The most frequently used type is the konjac glucomannan, which is reaped from the tubers of konjac, a plant indigenous to Asia.
It is also extracted from:
- Eastern white pine
It absorbs water well and has the most vicious nature of any known dietary fiber.
Some grams of glucomannan powder can turn an entire glass (eight ounces) of water into a gel.
This fiber has been utilized in food for binding and thickening, as a preservative, and as a fat substitute.
It has gained fame as a dietary supplement, majorly due to its reputation for weight reduction.
Mechanisms of Action of Glucomannan
Glucomannan works by:
- Occupying space in the stomach, thus making you feel satiated and eat less
- Decreasing the volume of the hungerhormone ghrelin
- Decreasing nutrients absorption (fats, proteins, and sugars)
- Removing bileacids
- Promoting the growth of beneficial gut bacteria
Benefits of Glucomannan
Konjac has a lot of potential health advantages. Many of these advantages relate to its high content of glucomannan (soluble dietary fiber occurring in the konjac plant).
The list below discusses these potential health advantages in more detail.
Bile acids are produced from cholesterol. Glucomannan binds to these acids and helps to remove them from our bodies. As a result of this, the body has to change more cholesterol into bile acids, thus lowering cholesterol levels.
One among two meta-analyses, including 12 studies (other including 14 studies), claims that this supplement significantly lowered non-HDL cholesterol types and LDL. LDL and non-HDL cholesterol intensify the risk of heart disease when high.
In a study with 120 folks with high cholesterol, glucomannan together with chromium-polynicotinate or policosanol reduced total and LDL cholesterol but did not affect HDL or triglyceride levels.
One 2015 review also discovered that glucomannan made some folks with diabetes less likely to consume foods that could raise their blood sugar levels. This is since it made them feel satiated for longer.
Konjac for Constipation
There have been so many detailed research studies that have looked into the relationship between glucomannan and constipation. A 2008 study revealed that supplementation raised bowel movements by about 30 percent in constipated adults. However, the study range was very small, with just seven participants. Another larger research study in 2011 looked at constipation in young folks, ages 3-16 years old, but discovered no improvement when compared with a placebo. Lastly, another study in 2018 with 64 pregnant women complaining of constipation concluded that glucomannan may be considered along with other curing methods. So, the decision is still out.
Konjac is highly soluble in water and therefore aids digestion. It can strengthen your digestive system, thus making it a great remedy for folks with digestion problems. It can also help with hemorrhoids and constipation.
Konjac for Weight Loss
Eating fiber regularly helps keep you satiated for long, so you’re less likely to snack or overeat in-between meals. Konjac also swells in the stomach to help keep one full.
According to a study, adding a glucomannan supplement to a balanced (1,200-calorie diet) triggered more weight loss than another 1,200-calorie diet together with a placebo). Adding more fiber supplements (alginate and guar gum) didn’t have any impact.
Helps Control Diabetes
Because konjac is endowed with glucomannan, this is a wonderful agent to help control body sugar levels, thus helping with the control of diabetes symptoms.
Konjac can help your body to absorb minerals, thus making your daily food much more useful. By helping with minerals absorption, any foods and drinks you take in will be used more effectively.
The glucomannan content in konjac may also help some folks looking to improve their skin health.
For instance, a 2013 study discovered that glucomannan may be beneficial as a topical therapy for the treatment of acne, as well as improvement of overall skin health.
Glucomannan boosted the proportion of beneficial microflora (bifidobacteria and lactic acid bacteria) in seven constipated folks and eight healthy folks.
A small dose of glucomannan fiber also raised the number of beneficial bacteria and the production of SCFAs (short-chain fatty acids) in the gut of rats and mice.
Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
As well as aiding skin health, glucomannan may also aid body wounds to heal more quickly.
One study in mice discovered that glucomannan supplements might aid wound healing by enhancing the immune system. However, more study is necessary to conclude that glucomannan performs the same effect in humans.
Konjac for Blood Sugar
Another promising point is the use of GM to control blood sugars. One study discovered that GM may boost blood sugar control and lipid profile among folks living with insulin resistance syndrome.
Insulin resistance (metabolic syndrome) includes symptoms such as high blood glucose levels, high blood pressure, obesity, and high cholesterol. Another recent study with Type 2 diabetic rats discovered that GM may have remarkable results as a substitute for blood-glucose-lowering medications.
Oral Health Benefits
Because this konjac plant has anti-bacterial properties, it can assist with minor oral health issues such as toothache. The konjac plant helps to clean teeth and combat bacteria.
A study with 48 hyperthyroid folks, those who took glucomannan, together with standard therapy, had significantly reduced thyroid hormone levels in the first weeks of treatment.
This supplement reduced inflammation in rats with arthritis. It also lowered skin and gut inflammation in mice.
In these studies, glucomannan lowered Th2 response (IL-13 and IL-4)
The glucomannan in konjac prevented dermatitis (nose and skin allergies) and allergic rhinitis in mice. It was achieved by decreasing IgE levels.
Risks Factors Associated with Konjac
It may be an unpleasant hazard for those consuming it as a supplement candy and not chewing it, especially for infants and the elderly. As a very soluble dietary fiber, it is well known to absorb a lot of moisture and may enlarge in the throat while ingesting or trigger obstruction in one’s gut. Also, for those folks with diabetes who are on therapy, they should contact their doctor before using konjac because of the potential to reduce blood sugar.
Other reported disadvantages may include flatulence, loose stools, constipation, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort.
How to Use konjac
Konjac glucomannan supplements are always available in most food stores. The precise dosage of konjac one should take varies with their reason for taking it, age, and overall health status.
The FDA (Food and Drug Administration) does not regulate konjac supplements yet, so it is pertinent to buy them from a reputable retailer. Supplement producers can voluntarily submit their products (supplements) to an independent laboratory for examination of potency and purity, so check out the label for this information.
Some people sometimes use konjac corm powder as another alternative to seafood in vegan diets. Some producers/manufacturers also make facial sponges out of konjac for folks looking to take advantage of the health advantages it has for their skin.