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Fiber Does More Than Improve Bowel Function

Fiber Does More Than Improve Bowel Function

Article by Arnie Gitomer

When many people think of dietary fiber and fiber supplements, their first thought may be constipation prevention or treatment, or normalizing bowel function. But dietary fiber has other important, beneficial actions. Some examples are weight loss in adults and children, type 2 diabetes, blood glucose control, and reducing serum cholesterol.

Two recent studies highlight the role of fiber in improving cholesterol and triglyceride levels.


Earlier studies suggest the soluble fiber glucomannan reduces LDL-the "bad" cholesterol-but there are relatively few studies, most of which are small and of short duration. In this new study, doctors reviewed and analyzed findings from 12 placebo-controlled trials covering 370 adults and children who took 3 grams of glucomannan fiber per day for at least three weeks.

Overall, those taking 3 grams of glucomannan per day saw LDL decline by an average of 10 percent, and other non-HDL cholesterol decline by 7 percent.

Commenting on the findings, doctors said that because it does not lower HDL cholesterol, the “good cholesterol,” government health agencies may wish to recommend adding glucomannan to the diet as a way to reduce chances of heart and circulatory events in the general population.

What exactly is Glucomannan? It is a soluble, fermentable, and highly viscous dietary fiber. Although glucomannan can be a general term for a polysaccharide derived from various sources, the most common meaning for glucomannan is for the soluble fiber derived from the root of Amorphophallus konjac (elephant yam or konjac plant). The konjac plant is native to Asia. The tubers can grow to greater than 10 pounds in weight   (reference: TRC Natural Medicines)    

(Reference: American Journal of Clinical Nutrition; March, 2017, Published Online)

Polysaccharide and Psyllium

A second study looked at the effect of psyllium fiber on blood sugar levels and  Cholesterol. Studies have found high-fiber diets reduce chances for several chronic diseases. In this study, 93 overweight or obese men and women, ages 19 to 68, took 5 grams of the dietary fibers polysaccharide or psyllium, or a rice flour placebo, before meals. All participants maintained their usual diet and lifestyle over the 12-month study period.

At three months, compared to placebo, the polysaccharide and psyllium fiber groups had significantly lower insulin levels, less insulin resistance, lower total cholesterol levels, and lower LDL cholesterol levels. Glucose levels were also lower in the polysaccharide group. Most of these improvements continued through six months, and by 12 months, those in the polysaccharide group also saw HDL-the "good" cholesterol-levels increase significantly compared to placebo.

Discussing the findings, doctors said that adding dietary fiber to the diet, without having to change an existing dietary pattern, may help maintain healthy glucose and insulin levels and improve lipids.

(Polysaccharide and psyllium: Reference: Nutrients; 2017, Vol. 9, No. 2, 91)

Suggested Glucomman products:
Product Code: 60268    Pure Encapsulations, Glucomannan - 180 Veggie Caps
Product Code: 18236    Natures Way, Glucomannan (Konjac) - 100
Product Code: 66766    Now Foods    Glucomannan Pure Pwd - 8 Oz    Pwd

Suggested Psyllium fiber products:
Willner Chemists carries psyllium fiber supplements from the following companies:
Carlson Labs, Yerba Prima, Nature’s Way, Solaray, NOW Foods, Solgar, Source Naturals.

The pharmacists and nutritionists at Willner Chemists will be happy to help you select the product most suited to your needs.