A fiber-blend supplement called PolyGlycopleX (PGX) not only prevents constipation, it also reduces diabetes risk and helps control appetite.

PGX is a trademarked blend of three natural sources of fiber-glucomannan from the root of the Asian konjac plant...sodium alginate from seaweed...and xanthan gum from a fermented sugar. Although each softgel capsule of PGX provides just 750 mg of fiber, its three viscous (sticky and gel-like) components work synergistically to bind hundreds of times their combine weight in water. In practical terms, one PGX softgel produces the same bulk as a bowl of oatmeal. Here's what PGX can do for you...

Diabetes Protection and More

PGX was developed by Vladimir Vuksan, PhD, and colleagues at the University of Toronto. Dr. Vuksan is a renowned expert on the role of diet in the development of diabetes and heart disease. He led the team that developed the glycemic index (GI)-a ranking system on a scale of 0 to 100 that indicates the effect specific foods have on blood glucose levels, with higher numbers representing more pronounced spikes (and consequent drops) in blood sugar.

After their GI breakthrough, these same researchers went looking for a way to blend fibers.

Their goal: To promote more stable-and therefore more healthful-blood glucose levels, as well as improved insulin sensitivity (ability of the body's cells to respond to the hormone insulin). Such a substance, they knew, would especially benefit people who had, or were at risk for, diabetes. PGX was the result. Study findings...

When subjects with metabolic syndrome (a prediabetic condition) took a standard dose of PGX for three weeks, their average after-meal blood glucose levels fell by 23% and their blood insulin levels fell by 35%-indicating significantly better blood sugar control. A placebo group had no improvement. Also, among PGX users, body fat was reduced by 2.8% after three weeks, compared with a 1.4% reduction in the placebo group.

Adding PGX to a food or taking PGX before a meal can reduce the GI of that food or meal by 25% to 50%. For example, study subjects had blood tests after eating white bread and again after eating white bread sprinkled with 5 g of PGX. The plain bread had a GI of 69-but the bread with PGX had a GI of 37.

PGX and Appetite Suppression

I interviewed Michael Murray, ND, director of product science and innovation at Natural Factors Nutritional Products, a supplement manufacturer in British Columbia. Working with Michael Lyon, MD, medical and research director of the Canadian Center for Functional Medicine, Dr. Murray turned PGX from a laboratory-produced mix into a viable commercial product.

Drs. Murray and Lyon had come across PGX while researching a book on how to prevent and treat diabetes with natural medicine. Experiment: The doctors monitored blood sugar levels for 24 hours in more than 100 over weight and/or diabetic people. Participants' blood sugar levels fluctuated greatly throughout the day-rising rapidly after high-GI foods were eaten, then falling rapidly and often leaving blood sugar levels too low. Such drops in blood sugar trigger feelings of hunger. When participants were given PGX, however, blood sugar levels stabilized, allowing them significantly more appetite control.

How to use PGX

Of course, people cannot indulge in a diet of french fries and hot fudge sundaes and think that PGX will protect them from the consequences. But for my patients who work hard to maintain a healthy weight and to prevent or control diabetes, PGX helps them achieve their goals.

PGX has been available for several years in the form of meal-replacement beverages, powder to mix with water and granules to sprinkle on food. At first, some users have problems with gas, bloating and constipation or diarrhea. When this happens, I advise reducing the dosage, then slowly increasing it as the body becomes accustomed to PGX.

Recommended: A form called PGX Daily, a softgel capsule with 750 mg of PGX in a base of coconut oil, causes few if any gastrointestinal problems. I suggest that anyone over age 12 who seeks better control of weight and/or blood glucose levels do the following...

• Start by taking two capsules of PGX Daily, 15 minutes before each of your three daily meals, with 10 ounces of water. Daily total: Six capsules.

• Over one week, work up to three capsules before each meal.

Daily total: Nine capsules.

• For greater appetite control, work up to as many as six capsules before each meal.

Daily total: Up to 18 capsules.

• After achieving the desired weight loss and/ or blood sugar stabilization, take one or two capsules of PGX Daily per day before a meal, continuing indefinitely, to help maintain results.

Caution: Before using PGX, consult your doctor if you have congestive heart failure or kidney disease, because PGX could worsen fluid retention... a gastrointestinal disorder or difficulty swallowing, because in rare cases other fiber supplements have been linked to esophageal blockage... or if you are pregnant or breast-feeding, as a general precaution.

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