Weight loss fads come and go. Currently, a fiber called glucomannan from konjac root is popular for appetite reduction to help people reach their weight goals. Since many Americans aren’t getting enough fiber in their diet, I often encourage this approach. Fiber is a nondigestible carbohydrate and is divided into two categories: soluble and insoluble. Soluble fibers like glucomannan swell up in the presence of water, up to seven times their original volume. Many people are taking soluble fibers before meals to help them stick to more modest portions of food. This expansion of fiber can increase the feeling of satiety, which partially comes from the volume of food in the stomach. Fiber also can slow the absorption of sugar. This is why complex carbohydrates that are rich in fiber are better for blood sugar control than simple carbohydrates. Better blood sugar control is also helpful for some people in reaching their weight goals.
Fiber has many health benefits beyond helping reduce appetite. Fiber aids colon function by promoting healthy bowel movements and providing food for the beneficial bacteria of the gut. These bacteria in turn make nutrients that the cells of the colon use for energy production. Fiber can modestly reduce the absorption of fats from our diet. This slightly diminishes our calorie intake and can help improve cholesterol levels. Increased fiber intake has also been correlated with lower rates of cancer, even breast cancer. It is recommended that we get between 21 to 38 grams of fiber daily depending on our age and gender. Beans, vegetables, and fruits are all great sources of fiber, so eat a diet that emphasizes these foods. But increase your fiber intake slowly. Since bacteria digest some of these fibers for us, a sudden increase in fiber can cause gas and intestinal discomfort.