Inulin can first be described as a fibrous carbohydrate that can be classified as a starch. This substance can be found in a variety amount of foods such as vegetables, fruits, and herbs. Inulin is in the class of compounds known as fructans and is a naturally occurring oligosaccharide, meaning it has several simple sugars linked together.
Since inulin is not absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, it is considered to be a fibre. Inulin has a sweeter taste to it, so some people may definitely use this as a sweetener for a variety of things.
Since it is a fibre and is not digested in the gastrointestinal tract, it goes down to the large intestine where your bacteria uses it to prosper, making it considered to be prebiotic.
Examples of foods that contain inulin:
✓ Sweet potatoes
Inulin Fiber Uses
Studies have linked the consumption of inulin-type prebiotics to many other health benefits as well, including:
✓ better infant nutrition, growth and development
✓ gastrointestinal health
✓ colon cancer prevention
✓ better blood sugar control
✓ healthier cholesterol levels and improved lipid metabolism
✓ improved bone mineralization
✓ protection from fatty liver disease
✓ protection from obesity
✓ better immunity
Good bacteria basically live off of fibers within the diet, which is why high-fiber foods like fruit, leafy greens and beans/legumes are said to be good for gut health.
Is There a Dietary Requirement for Inulin?
While there isn’t a requirement or recommended amount of inulin you should aim for every day, consuming it regularly can contribute to your daily fiber intake. People around the world are believed to consume inulin every single day in the form of natural plant foods and some packaged products. Archaeological evidence from the Chihuahuan Desert near New Mexico suggests that ancient populations living in this region who ate plant-based diets probably consumed about 135 grams of prebiotic inulin-type fructans every single day!
Are There Any Inulin Side Effects or Interactions?
Inulin is non-allergic and safe for most people to consume considering it’s completely natural and present in many foods. Studies have shown that chicory is rarely allergenic, and when foods containing inulin cause reactions, it’s usually due to other compounding ingredients like peanuts, milk, soy, shellfish and wheat.
That being said, some people don’t react very well to eating high amounts of certain types of fibers or carbohydrates. Inulin is considered a FODMAP, a class of carbohydrates that are rapidly fermented in the colon and can produce gas and digestive issues for some people.
For people with sensitives to FODMAPs (like those with irritable bowel syndrome on an IBS diet or who have inflammatory bowel disorders), drawing water into the colon in large quantities can lead to worsened symptoms, like cramps, gas and bloated stomach. (12) It’s a good idea to add inulin or other concentrated fibers to your diet slowly to test their effects and also to drink plenty of water to help with lubrication.