Glucomannan VS Fiber Supplements
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.
Fibers are a vital part of a balanced diet. Just like proteins, carbohydrates, fats, and vitamins you also need to take a sufficient amount of fiber in your diet.
Fibers not only improve digestion but also help you lose weight. They also lower your blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Despite all these benefits, most people do not consume the recommended amount of fiber regularly and this can lead to problems like upset digestion, constipation, and weight gain.
So what can be done to increase the intake of fiber? Well, if you are not getting enough amount of fiber through diet then the answer is to opt for different types of supplements containing fibers.
This article highlights the benefits of two commonly used fiber supplements i.e. glucomannan and psyllium husk.
GLUCOMANNAN AND PSYLLIUM
Most fiber supplements contain psyllium husk which is derived from a shrub-like herb known as Plantago ovata. It can be grown worldwide and is, therefore, more common.
On the other hand, glucomannan is a fiber extracted from the roots of the konjac plant native to Southeast Asia.
Both glucomannan and psyllium belong to the category of soluble fiber. They absorb water and form a bulky mass that facilitates bowel movements.
Being soluble fibers they both share almost similar properties and provide multiple health benefits which are listed individually in the text below.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF GLUCOMANNAN
Glucomannan is a natural soluble fiber that can help you manage your weight, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, and also hydrate your skin.
Below is a detailed explanation of how glucomannan works to provide you with different health benefits.
SUPPORT GUT HEALTH
Gut health has a huge impact on your overall physical and mental well-being and hence you should always try to include such foods in your diet that promote a healthy gut.
Glucomannan acts as a prebiotic and stimulates the growth of friendly bacteria that support your gut health. When you consume glucomannan it passes from your esophagus and stomach undigested. Upon entering the colon probiotic bacteria ferment the glucomannan.
In this way, glucomannan acts as a fuel for probiotic bacteria and increases their concentration, especially of bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.
These friendly bacteria not only improve your gut health but also boost immunity and prevent hormonal imbalances.
Glucomannan helps you lose weight in multiple ways. It forms a gel-like bulky mass and keeps you full for a longer duration. In this way, it prevents you from overeating and munching on snacks unnecessarily.
It also reduces the absorption of fat and promotes a healthy waistline. Glucomannan is quite low on calories and can be consumed one to two times a day without stressing over caloric intake.
All these properties of glucomannan collectively aid in weight loss especially if paired with a healthy lifestyle.
Glucomannan has also been found to manage elevated cholesterol levels. Being a natural fiber, it has the ability to reduce the absorption of dietary fats from the gut.
As a result, regular glucomannan consumption results in total cholesterol reduction and also lowers the levels of triglycerides. Levels of low-density lipoprotein popularly known as bad cholesterol are also reduced by glucomannan supplements intake.
Diabetes is one of those conditions that if not managed properly can lead to serious complications. Therefore, you should strictly follow the instructions of your physicians and stick to your treatment and diet plan.
Apart from that glucomannan may also help in managing diabetes as it delays the emptying of the stomach and slows down the absorption of sugar. Consequently, your blood sugar levels do not spike after taking meals.
Glucomannan consumption is beneficial for your skin as it keeps your skin hydrated and acts as fuel for friendly skin microbes.
These microbes outnumber the bad bacteria and prevent different skin conditions such as acne breakouts.
HEALTH BENEFITS OF PSYLLIUM
Psyllium husk is the main ingredient in most fiber supplements. It relieves constipation, improves symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, and reduces acidity.
Further description of the different benefits of psyllium husk is given below.
Constipation is a common complaint among people of all age groups. Chronic constipation can lead to serious complications such as hemorrhoids and anal fissures.
One of the causes of constipation is the lack of fiber intake. Hence, you should include fiber in your daily routine as it doesn't only relieve constipation but also prevents it in the future.
Psyllium husk in fiber supplements works as a bulk-forming laxative. It increases both the size and moisture of stool and thereby helps to relieve constipation.
Initially, psyllium binds to partially digested food and then absorbs water as it moves through different parts of the gastrointestinal tract. As a result, the stool becomes soft and expands in size so that it is easily eliminated during a bowel movement.
Psyllium husk in fiber supplements can also manage the symptoms of diarrhea. When it absorbs an extra amount of water, it increases the thickness of stool and results in delayed elimination of stool through the gut.
The net effect of this phenomenon is reduced frequency of bowel movements and thicker and harder stools.
REDUCES SEVERITY OF INFLAMMATORY BOWEL SYNDROME
Irritable bowel syndrome is a common condition caused by stress, bacterial or viral infection and overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut.
Major symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome include abdominal cramps, bloating and intermittent episodes of diarrhea and constipation.
Fiber supplements containing psyllium husk have the ability to manage both constipation and diarrhea and therefore help in reducing the severity of symptoms experienced by patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
IMPROVES HEART HEALTH
High cholesterol and hypertension are two of the most harmful risk factors for heart diseases. Adequate fiber intake can help you tackle both of them and consequently reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Psyllium husk consumption decreases levels of low-density lipoprotein, triglycerides, and total cholesterol by limiting the absorption of fats and binding with bile acids and removing them from the body.
When psyllium binds with bile acids and remove them from the body then liver uses cholesterol to increase bile acids levels. As a result, there is a significant reduction in total cholesterol levels.
Psyllium also creates a thin layer over the intestinal wall and reduces the absorption of dietary fats.
Psyllium husk in fiber supplements may also promote the removal of excess sodium via stool and provide short-term relief to patients with cardiac problems.
Acidity is characterized by a burning sensation or discomfort due to excess production of acids by glands present in the stomach.
Psyllium husk is a water-soluble fiber that forms a gel and provides a protective coating over the mucosal lining of the stomach. In this way, it prevents irritation caused by stomach acids.
RECOMMENDED DOSAGE AND SIDE EFFECTS
The typical dose for glucomannan is about 1 to 3 grams per day while for psyllium husk it is about 5 to 10 grams daily.
Within the above-mentioned doses glucomannan and psyllium do not exhibit any adverse effects however some people might experience following side effects:
- Stomach pain
- Abdominal cramps
Glucomannan and other fiber supplements are generally very well tolerated and can be used in daily routine. However, some precautionary measures should be taken in the following circumstances:
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding – The scientific studies do not say much about the safety of glucomannan and psyllium husk usage in pregnant and lactating women. Therefore, it is recommended to stay on the safer side and avoid using glucomannan and other fiber supplements while you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
- Surgery – Glucomannan and psyllium husk have a negative effect on blood sugar levels. As a result, it might be difficult to control blood sugar levels during and after the surgery if the patient is using any of the above-mentioned fiber supplements.
Like every food group fiber has its own importance. However, most people do not consume enough amount of fiber in their diet and as a result, often develop different digestive issues.
Considering the importance of fiber you must include it in your daily routine. If not through diet then at least by using fiber supplementation.
Glucomannan and psyllium husk are the two main types of fibers available as dietary supplements. Glucomannan helps you to lose weight, manage diabetes, and reduce cholesterol levels. It also supports a healthy gut and keeps your skin hydrated.
Psyllium husk is found in most fiber supplements and relieves constipation, supports heart health, and reduces the symptoms of acidity, diarrhea, and inflammatory bowel syndrome.
It is recommended that you speak with your healthcare provider before starting glucomannan or other fiber supplements especially if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications for any underlying health conditions.