Find out all about glucomannan, including what it does, the benefits to taking it, side effects and how much you might need.
What is glucomannan/konjac?
Glucomannan, or konjac as it is sometimes known, is a natural, water-soluble fibre derived from the roots of a south-east Asian plant called the elephant yam.1
It has been traditionally used by the Chinese to detoxify and ease symptoms of asthma, and is still used to make noodles and tofu.2
It is often used as a bulking agent in foods, appearing as E425 on food labels.3 It’s also available as capsules and powder, and is added to some diet foods such as pastas and noodles.
What does glucomannan do in the body?
As with any fibre, glucomannan can help you feel more satisfied after eating, but what makes it interesting to scientists is that glucomannan has extraordinary water absorption capacities – it’s able to absorb up to 50 times its own weight in water!4
- Glucomannan is a natural fibre sourced from elephant yam roots
- It’s used to bulk up foods and is also a popular ingredient in diet foods like noodles and pasta
- It can absorb 50x its own weight in water in your stomach – which is why it can help you feel fuller for longer
5 benefits of glucomannan
Now you know what glucomannan is, here are the top 5 potential glucomannan benefits.
It may help you maintain your weight
Like all soluble fibres, glucomannan is highly absorbent, binding to water to form a gel.5 This helps:6
- Create a sensation of fullness that can reduce appetite
- Delay stomach emptying, keeping you feeling fuller for longer
- Break down carbohydrates more slowly, stabilising post-meal blood sugar levels
- Decrease fat absorption
A 2005 study by Norway’s University of Tromso reported that dieters who took glucomannan lost more weight than those taking other high-fibre supplements.7
However, a 2013 study in Journal of Obesity found it had no effect on weight.8
It may support gut health
As a viscous dietary fibre, glucomannan is the favourite food for certain friendly bacteria in our guts.
A 2010 laboratory study by the University of Reading found that it helped encourage healthy levels of gut bacteria populations, for example bifidobacterium, but more research on humans is still needed.9
And like all fibres, glucomannan can reduce constipation by increasing bulk, and speeding up food transit time through the colon.10
It can lower cholesterol levels
According to a 2008 review of evidence in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, glucomannan can reduce levels of total cholesterol and cause a drop in ‘bad’ LDL cholesterol, too.
Researchers suggested that glucomannan has this effect by altering both the way cholesterol is produced in the liver and how fats in the body are stored or used for energy.11
It could help relieve constipation
Consuming glucomannan when you’re feeling constipated could help to ‘get things moving’ in your gut and help you find relief.
This is thought to be because more fibre in general will help relieve constipation – and glucomannan is an excellent source of that!
One study on 31 children found that supplementing glucomannan was beneficial for treating chronic constipation with no significant side effects. Significantly fewer children complained of abdominal pain, too.12
Another study with pregnant women suggested that supplementing glucomannan could help improve their constipation symptoms. The participants reported that taking glucomannan improved consistency and frequency of stools.13
It could support healthy skin
Glucomannan could help to keep your skin hydrated and healthy.
This is thought to be because glucomannan is a natural probiotic that can act as fuel for our skin’s microbiome and help keep it balanced.
There is limited research on its efficacy, but one 2013 study found that glucomannan may help to improve overall skin health, as well as potentially helping to soothe acne symptoms.14
- Glucomannan is not just a supplement to help you maintain your weight, people also use it to support their gut health, cholesterol levels, healthy skin, as well as constipation relief
What is the best glucomannan supplement?
You have a few choices when it comes to konjac / glucomannan supplements and products, including:
- Glucomannan capsules
- Glucomannan tablets
- Glucomannan rice
- Glucomannan noodles
- Glucomannan pasta
- Glucomannan shots
- Glucomannan meal replacement shakes
- Glucomannan flour
- Glucomannan powder
It totally depends on what you like!
Handpicked content: 7 of the best glucomannan supplements
How much glucomannan is safe to take?
A dose of around 2g to 4g per day has been used safely in studies, but always read the packaging or food label first.15
Take glucomannan 15 minutes to an hour before a meal, and make sure you swallow it with 1-2 glasses of fluid to avoid it expanding before it reaches your stomach, as this could be dangerous.16
Glucomannan has not been proved safe for the following people:
- Pregnant or breastfeeding women
- If you are diabetic, speak to your doctor before taking glucomannan as it can reduce the absorption of some diabetes medications.17
When to take glucomannan supplements?
It is generally recommended that you take glucomannan around 15-30 minutes before you eat a meal if you are using it to try and manage your weight.
For other reasons, it shouldn’t really matter when you consume it, but try to avoid taking it too close to bedtime.
Side-effects of glucomannan
Generally, glucomannan is well-tolerated. Mild side-effects can include:18
- Soft stools
This is because glucomannan predominantly impacts our gut – and while it may help relieve constipation, it could also swing the other way and cause us to feel these other symptoms.
Just take it slowly with glucomannan and see how your body reacts before taking it regularly.
Is glucomannan safe?
Glucomannan is considered generally safe for adults, but you should always check with your GP if you have any health conditions before taking it – especially if you are diabetic.
Why is glucomannan banned in Australia?
Australia and the European Union banned konjac jellies as it may pose a choking risk, especially in children. This is because it does not dissolve easily and absorbs a lot of water – which is why it is important to chew konjac jelly thoroughly before swallowing.
- Glucomannan is a natural ingredient with a lot of potential health benefits, from maintaining your weight to supporting your gut microbiome
- It is generally safe to use by adults, with only mild reported side effects, but please listen to your body as we will all react differently to it
Now that you're clued up on glucomannan, find out which are the best glucomannan supplements available right now: 7 of the best glucomannan supplements.
Last updated: 24 May 2021