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Glucomannan may slow aging and heart disease
Thursday, June 17, 2010 6:18 am Email this article
Glucomannan may slow the aging process according to a study by Peng et al (1994 and 1995). Fewer signs of aging in cells of the brain, aorta, liver, and heart
They found that feeding rats a diet containing 1 percent refined konjac meal for a year-and-a-half showed fewer signs of aging in cells of the brain, aorta, liver, and heart.
Konjac meal contains glucomannan
Konjac meal is a type of flour which contains the fiber glucomannan.
Less thickening of the aortic wall
They also found less thickening of the aortic wall.
The aorta is the great artery which carries the blood from the heart to all parts of the body except the lungs.
Less thickening of the aortic wall
“Results obtained demonstrate that the long-term feeding of [refined konjac meal] to rats can delay the course of cell aging…, hence it is likely to delay the occurrence of arteriosclerosis and improve the functions of the brain, heart and vascular system,” the authors concluded (Peng et al, 1995).
Comment: Effect due to lowering blood sugar and insulin?
I would guess that this apparent slowing the aging process in animals given glucomannan is due to the fact that glucomannan, and probably other gel-forming fibers such as guar gum, lower blood sugar and insulin levels by slowing the absorption of food.
In essence, gel-forming fibers such as glucomannan and guar gum lower the glycemic index and glycemic load of foods. (For a definition of glycemic index and glycemic load, click here here.)
Glucomannan: 4,000 to 5,000 mg before a meal reduces insulin by 50 percent
At a dose of 4 to 5 grams (4,000-5,000 mg), glucomannan can markedly reduce the glycemic index of a meal and reduce the total amount of insulin released by half (50 percent) according to two different research groups (Doi, 1995; Hopman et al, 1988 according to McCarty, 2002, p. 487, col. 2).
Chronically elevated insulin associated with cancer
Chronically elevated insulin levels are associated with an increased risk of cancers of the colon, breast, pancreas, kidney, and endometrium as noted in a previous article.
High insulin levels associated with disease of aging
“[T]he higher the blood insulin level, the more rapid the formation of age-associated pathology, primary atherosclerosis,” wrote Ward Dean, MD, an original thinker who I have a great deal of respect for, and the now-deceased Russian gerontologist, Vladimir Dilman in their book The Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging and Degenerative Disease (1992, p. 41).
Elevated blood sugar and insulin levels involved in aging and cancer
“Studies in mammals have led to the suggestion that [elevated blood sugar] and [elevated insulin levels] are important factors both in aging and in the development of cancer,” according to V. N. Anisimov (2003) from the Petrov Research Institute of Oncology in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Antidiabetes drugs such as metformin that lower blood sugar and insulin might extend life span and prevent cancer
Anisimov goes on to say that “Some old and new observations suggest that antidiabetic [drugs such as Glucophage (metformin)] could be promising candidates for both the life span extension and the prevention of cancer.”
This is presumably by lowering blood sugar and insulin levels. Therefore, gel-forming fibers such as glucomannan and guar gum, which also lower blood sugar and lower insulin, might also help to slow aging and prevent cancer.
Peng S, Zhang M, Zhang Y, Wu Z. Effect of the refined konjac meal or cell aging of brain, liver and cardiovascular tissues in rats. Acta Nutrimenta Sinica. 1994, 16(3):280-84.
Peng S, Zhang M, Zhang Y, Wu Z. Long-term animal feeding trial of the refined konjac meal. ii. effects of the refined konjac meal on the aging of the brain, liver, and cardiovascular tissue cells in rats. Biomed Environ Sci. 1995 Mar, 8(1):80-87.
AUTHOR’S CONTACT INFORMATION
School of Public Health
West China University of Medical Sciences
Chengdu 610041, China
Dilman VM, Dean W, Fowkes SW. The Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging and Degenerative Disease. Pensacola, Fla: Center for Bio-Gerontology, 1992.
Doi K. Effect of konjac fibre (glucomannan) on glucose and lipids. Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995 Oct, 49 Suppl 3:S190-7.
Hopman W, Houben P, Speth P, Lamers C. Glucomannan prevents postprandial hypoglycaemia in patients with previous gastric surgery. Gut. 1988 Jul, 29(7):930-34.
McCarty M. Glucomannan minimizes the postprandial insulin surge: a potential adjuvant for hepatothermic therapy. Medical Hypotheses. 2002 Jun, 58(6):487-90.
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