Managing blood glucose is very challenging for people with diabetes, especially in carbs portion control. When it comes to eating noodle or pasta, it is hard to not have a second helping! What if there is a noodle that contains no carbs at all? Good news, it exists! It is called Konjac noodle and it famous for being zero carbs and almost zero calories! This food is well known as a noodle replacement for dieters that undergo a low carb diet. So, what about people with diabetes? Do you think Konjac noodle for diabetes as a noodle substitute is a good idea?
What is Konjac noodle made from?
Konjac noodle or also known as shirataki noodle is made from the Konjac plant that grows in Southeast Asia, Japan, and China. The plant has an edible corm, called Konjac yam. The corm is mainly made of glucomannan, a type of dietary fibre.
Since Konjac noodle is mostly water and fibre, it only has about 6 to 10 calories, less than 1 gram carbs, and zero fat for every 100 grams (which is about 1 serving). Konjac noodle is tasteless and has a chewy texture from the glucomannan.
The benefits of Konjac noodle for diabetes
Because of the no carbs miracle that this noodle has, it seems like Konjac noodle for diabetes sounds promising. Though it tastes bland compared to regular noodles, at least you can enjoy a bowl of Konjac noodle without worrying about your blood glucose reading. So, would Konjac noodle for diabetes be a great thing? What are the benefits?
Regulates Blood Glucose
The glucomannan in Konjac noodle is a dietary fibre that our body cannot digest and it can absorb a lot of water. This fiber can grow to up to 200 times its original volume! This ability can help slow down stomach emptying by modulating the rate of nutrients absorption from the gut. Slow stomach emptying can help reduce sudden spike of sugar in the blood after eating.
Eating konjac noodle for diabetes may be very useful in regulating blood glucose throughout the day. A study found that glucomannan supplement can improve the fasting blood sugar in type 2 diabetes patients.
Because glucomannan can hold so much water and form a gel, it helps us feel more satisfied with meals and make us full longer. It means that we can eat less but feel more satisfied for longer. This can help you curb hunger and keep you from overeating. Controlling your calories intake a day is very important if you want to lose weight.
A study found that eating glucomannan can help reduce weight. The patients that took glucomannan supplement dropped an extra of 0.8 kg in 5 weeks compared to the group that did not take it. Weight loss is very beneficial for overweight and obese people with diabetes. Even a weight loss of 5 to 10% from initial weight in a year can greatly reduce the risk of getting heart disease in patients with type 2 diabetes. Weight loss can also improve HbA1c reading, increase good cholesterol and optimize blood pressure.
Improves Blood Cholesterol Level
People with diabetes tend to have high blood cholesterol. This can increase the risk of getting heart disease. By taking steps to reduce your blood cholesterol, you can lessen the risk of getting heart disease.
Lots of studies found that glucomannan can greatly improve the cholesterol level of patients with type 2 diabetes. A study in 2017 reported that eating 3 grams of glucomannan daily can reduce bad cholesterol by 10% in 4 to 12 weeks. Moreover, this study also reported that glucomannan is two times more effective in reducing blood cholesterol compared to oat and barley.
Risks and considerations when eating Konjac noodle
Most people can tolerate Konjac noodle very well. But like any high-fibre products, taking too much konjac noodle may cause bloating, gas, and also diarrhoea. The ability to expand so large can also cause a dangerous blockage in the throat or stomach if it is eaten in a large amount.
The risk of blockage is higher in the elderly, people with swallowing problems, and children. There are also cases where the elderly and children died because of choking when eating konjac jelly gums. It is advised to not give konjac product to the high-risk group. Eating konjac noodle in a small portion (one small bowl) and chewing it thoroughly before swallowing can help reduce the risk of choking and blockage.
Since konjac noodle has been shown to lower blood glucose, people with diabetes should eat it moderately and closely monitor their blood glucose. Replacing all carb sources in the diet with zero carb foods like konjac can increase the risk of getting hypoglycemia (low blood glucose) in patients with diabetes – especially for someone who is on insulin or medication. Please consult your doctor or dietitian first before you plan to use konjac noodle to completely replace your carb source.
Getting the Konjac noodle for diabetes might give you a lot of health benefits. It can help regulates blood sugar, reduces body weight, and lower blood cholesterol. However, you have to eat this noodle in moderation. Get advice from health experts especially if you are on medication. Taking konjac noodle does not mean that you need to remove healthy carbs like whole grain, vegetables, and fruits from your diet. They are rich in minerals and vitamins which are still necessary to be included in your diet. When cooking konjac noodle, make sure you use healthy ingredients such as healthy oil and low saturated fat type of protein.