Who Says Flour Is Unhealthy? With Glucomannan (Konjac flour), You Can Eat Healthily ‘Til Your Heart’s (Stomach) Content
It’s the cardinal rule of weight loss and blood-sugar management: Avoid foods with flour.
Without doubt, regular white flour should be avoided like the plague if you’re trying to keep inflammation in check. The same is true for wheat flour. Even whole wheat flour contributes to insulin resistance and elevated blood sugar levels.
But there’s certain flours that are considered resistant starches. Resistant starches actually contribute to gut health by fertilizing the good bacteria in your colon.
And out of all the resistant starch flours, there’s one in particular that’s the main ingredient in all-you-can-eat ultra low calorie pasta. You can also use this flour as a thickener in soups and sauces, and you can also use it to replace cornstarch, which promotes inflammation.
This flour is great for the gut because it’s high in soluble fiber and it ferments in the gut, which helps feed your good bacteria.
So what is this miracle flour?
It’s called glucomannan.
And you can get it right here.
What Is Glucomannan?
If you’re wondering why you’ve never seen glucomannan flour in your local supermarket, there’s a good chance you probably have. After water, it’s the main ingredient in shirataki noodles.
Technically, glucomannan flour powder is not a resistant starch but for all intents and purposes, it acts like one.
Glucomannan is derived from the bulbous water-rich root of the Amorphophallus konjac plant. This is why glucomannan is also called konjac flour. The konjac plant, aka elephant yam, is native to the warm, muggy environs of Southeast Asia.
The “mannan” in glucomannan refers to a family of sugars called MOS or mannan-oligosaccharides. These short-chain molecular sugars cannot be digested. While it may sound like that’s a bad thing that MOS can’t be digested, it’s actually quite the opposite. Short-chain carbs are the compounds that your beneficial bacteria in the colon feast on and thrive, which supports immune function, mood, skin health and so much more.
Besides serving as food/fertilizer for your gut bacteria, glucomannan’s short-chain molecules increase water volume in your intestinal lumen (the opening inside the bowels). What does that mean exactly? It means that it promotes satiety; it helps you feel full. However, if you’re new to shirataki noodles or glucomannan powder, don’t have more than one serving.
That’s because the indigestible sugars rapidly ferment, which can cause flatulence. If you’ve ever eaten a very large portion of broccoli or other cruciferous veggies, you can probably relate.
Glucomannan acts as a prebiotic fiber. Fiber is fantastic for health, but you’re not going to want to consume a lot of it in a short amount of time at a dinner party.
Benefits of Glucomannan
In addition to contributing to gut health, promoting fullness, and lowering starchy carb and added sugars in the diet, glucomannan also improves cholesterol levels. In the GI tract, it acts as a gel. When combined with water—Miracle Noodles are approximately 98% water—the gel soaks up some excess cholesterol from the blood, where it’s removed by the body via the excretory system.
To put it in another way, a slightly uncouth one at that, glucomannan helps you poop and lowers your cholesterol! In fact, research shows that gel fibers can lower serum cholesterol levels by up to 7%.
More Fun Facts About Glucomannan & Miracle Noodle
If you’ll recall, glucomannan flour is extracted from the root of the yam-like konjac plant (‘konnyaku’ in Japanese). The raw plant contains up to 10% glucomannan sugars. In China and Japan, konjac has been used for centuries in food.
For example, Shinto and Buddhist monks slurped on shirataki noodles. The ultra-low calorie noodles are processed by taking the underground root stem (tuber) and shaping it into a cake-like mold, which is then pushed through a wooden box containing sharp blades.
This is precisely the origin story of Miracle Noodle. In 2006, while on vacation in Japan, Dr. Jonathan Carp, M.D. was having lunch at a Buddhist temple near Kyoto with a friend. Upon remarking how delicious the noodle soup was, Dr. Carp was shocked to hear that the noodles contained virtually no calories.
After he returned to the United States, unable to find shirataki noodles in stores, Dr. Carp ran with the idea of launching the first U.S.-based brand of shirataki-style noodles. With the help of his family, Dr. Carp launched the brand Miracle Noodle, which is now the leading brand of low-calorie pasta and rice alternatives.
What Can You Add Glucomannan To?
Glucomannan flour, aka konjac flour, contains the fiber that’s used in the making of Miracle Noodles. You can use the flour as a fiber additive, and to thicken everything from smoothies, pudding, gravy, sauce, baked goods, you name it…
So next time you hear flour isn’t good for you, tell them about glucomannan!