Glucomannan for Constipation
DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Gastrointestinal symptoms are among the top reasons for which a person seeks medical attention and constipation is one of the most common symptoms among them.
The fast food industry is growing day by day and people are consuming more junk food than ever before. The cherry on the top is that they also don’t have an active lifestyle.
An unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle altogether can lead to multiple gastrointestinal problems one of which is constipation.
There are many medicated products available in the market that may help relieve constipation but if you’re looking for something natural then glucomannan is your answer.
Glucomannan is a natural dietary fiber that doesn’t only relieve constipation but also provides multiple other health benefits. To know more about constipation and glucomannan and its uses follow the article below.
Constipation is described as less frequent bowel movements or difficulty in passing stool. When you don’t pass stools as regularly as you should then toxins begin to accumulate in your body.
Accumulated toxins can lead to infections and other health-related issues. Not only this but chronic constipation can also lead to hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and diverticulitis.
Therefore, it is necessary to know about the causes and symptoms of constipation and the ways to relieve and prevent it.
SYMPTOMS OF CONSTIPATION
It is important to know about the symptoms of constipation so that you can seek help before it causes any complications.
Common symptoms of constipation include:
- Dry or hard stools
- Abdominal cramps
- Requires help to empty the rectum such as pressing the abdomen or using a finger to remove the stool from the rectum
- Feeling that your rectum is not completely emptied even after a bowel movement
CAUSES OF CONSTIPATION
Constipation can occur simply due to a blockage in your colon or rectum or the dysfunction of pelvic muscles. It can also occur due to neuronal or hormonal factors affecting your bowel movements.
Below is a list of some common causes of constipation classified into different groups:
CONSTIPATION DUE TO BLOCKAGE IN THE COLON OR RECTUM
Anything that causes blockage in the colon or rectum can slow down or may even stop bowel movements. Conditions that block the colon or rectum are:
- Bowel obstruction i.e. blockage in the intestines
- Bowel strictures also known as narrowing of the bowel
- Tiny little tears in the skin around the anus named anal fissures
- Colon or rectal cancer
- Other abdominal malignancies that may press the colon
- Rectocele or to put simply the bulging of the rectum through the back wall of the vagina
CONSTIPATION DUE TO PELVIC MUSCLE DYSFUNCTION
Pelvic muscles are not only involved in urination but also assist in bowel movements. Following are the conditions that can affect the functions of pelvic muscles and result in constipation:
- Weakened pelvic muscles
- The inability of pelvic muscles to relax
- Lack of coordinated relaxation and contraction
CONSTIPATION DUE TO NEUROLOGICAL ISSUES
Every muscle in your body is innervated by nerves. When the nerve supply of muscles controlling the bowel movements gets damaged it may result in constipation.
Common conditions that can affect the nerve supply of muscles involved in bowel movements are:
- Spinal cord injury
- Autonomic neuropathy
- Multiple sclerosis
- Parkinson’s disease
CONSTIPATION DUE TO HORMONAL DISORDERS
Following are some of the conditions that cause hormonal disturbance in your body and can also lead to constipation:
Apart from the above-listed causes, there are several factors that increase the risk of constipation. Some of those factors are:
- Old age
- Female gender
- Less intake of water or dehydration
- Consuming low fiber diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Eating disorders
- Medications such as antidepressants, antihypertensives, sedatives, and opioids painkillers
Although constipation might not seem a serious condition if left unchecked it can lead to the following complications:
- Fecal impaction – Chronic constipation can cause hardened stools to accumulate and get stuck in your intestines
- Hemorrhoids – Excess pressure exerted to expel the stool can cause veins in and around the anus to become swollen resulting in hemorrhoids
- Anal fissures – Hard and large stools can lead to tiny tears in the skin around the anus which are known as anal fissures
- Rectal prolapse – When a person who is constipated tries to expel stool by exerting a lot of pressure it may sometimes result in a small amount of rectum to stretch and protrude out through the anus
Glucomannan is a natural soluble fiber that is extracted from the roots of konjac also known as elephant yam native to Southeast Asia.
It has traditionally been used in food products like tofu, noodles, and jelly. It can also be used as an emulsifier, preservative, and binding and thickening agent.
Glucomannan has also become quite popular as a dietary supplement and is used to aid weight loss, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and relieve constipation.
HOW DOES GLUCOMANNAN RELIEVE CONSTIPATION?
Being a soluble fiber glucomannan has a remarkable ability to absorb water and is the most viscous dietary fiber known to date. Only a small amount of it can turn a whole glass of water into gel.
One of the factors that affect your bowel movements is the efficiency of your digestive system. Glucomannan supplements improve digestion and facilitate regular bowel movements.
The exceptional water absorbing ability of glucomannan helps it to form a bulky gel-like mass in your intestines that propels stool forward and assists bowel movements.
Glucomannan supplements also have a prebiotic effect and stimulate the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. The growth of these bacteria then improves bowel movements and relieves constipation.
RECOMMENDED DOSAGE AND SIDE EFFECTS
The typical dose of glucomannan for adults is about 3 to 4 grams a day. Within this limit, it is very well tolerated and does not cause any adverse effects.
However, some people might experience mild side effects which are listed below:
- Stomach pain
- Soft stools
Apart from the above-mentioned side effects glucomannan can also cause choking or blockage of the throat and esophagus if consumed without water.
Hence, the best way to take glucomannan is to stir it in a glass of water and then drink it. It is also recommended to drink one to two glasses of water or another liquid after glucomannan intake to ensure that it has been washed down and there is no risk of choking.
Glucomannan is a natural substance and generally does not interfere with bodily functions but the following are a few circumstances in which you should consume it with great care or seek advice from your doctor:
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding – There is not enough information available regarding the safety of glucomannan consumption during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Therefore, it is advised to stay on the safe side and not consume it if you are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Diabetes – Glucomannan intake is associated with a change in blood sugar levels or to be specific it can lower them. Hence, it is recommended that a diabetic person should monitor his blood sugar levels regularly when using glucomannan for any purpose.
- Surgery – Due to its ability to lower blood sugar levels glucomannan can make it difficult to control blood sugar during and after the surgery. Thereby, you should stop taking glucomannan supplements at least two weeks prior to scheduled surgery.
INTERACTIONS WITH THERAPEUTIC DRUGS
Like many other supplements, glucomannan can also interact with different therapeutic drugs and may affect their actions or increase their side effects.
GLUCOMANNAN AND ANTIDIABETIC MEDICATIONS
Antidiabetic drugs and glucomannan both lower your blood sugar levels and using them simultaneously can result in hypoglycemia.
If you are a diabetic then closely monitor your blood sugar levels regularly when using glucomannan supplements. Also, consult your physician to discuss the use of glucomannan as he or she might adjust the dose of antidiabetic drugs accordingly.
GLUCOMANNAN AND ORAL DRUGS
Glucomannan supplements also decrease the absorption of medications that are consumed orally. As a result, less amount of drug reaches your bloodstream and the desired therapeutic effect is not achieved.
To avoid this phenomenon it is recommended that you consume glucomannan at least one hour after taking your medications or take your medications after four hours of glucomannan intake.
Constipation is a very common problem worldwide. It can occur due to several reasons and may cause serious complications if left unchecked.
Hence, you need to address it timely and take the necessary steps to manage it properly. One way to do that is by including glucomannan supplements in your daily routine.
Glucomannan supplements are natural fibers that improve digestion and help you relieve the symptoms of constipation effectively.
It is advised that you speak with your healthcare provider before starting glucomannan supplements especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health conditions.