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Inulin: The Gut Helper

Updated: Apr 6

Inulin is part of a class of dietary fiber called fructans. It is a water-soluble polysaccharide that is made up of a polymer of fructose molecules. Inulin is usually contained in plants as a storage plant carbohydrate. They help play a protective role by regulating the plant’s internal temperature. That’s why Inulin can be found in plant roots or rhizones, which are plants that grow horizontal. Some examples of rhizones include ginger, turmeric, and galangal.

Inulin is known as a prebiotic food because of its gut and digestion assistance in maintaining gut microbiota homeostasis and overall immunity. It promotes gut health by encouraging and assisting the growth of good bacteria, fending off unwanted pathogens, and fighting infection which stimulates the immune system. Therefore, it has the potential to lower digestion-related cancers, because it helps with overall gut health it can help lower the risks of digestion-related cancers.

Inulin has many gut and digestion health benefits since it is a soluble fiber. Soluble fibers help with fullness. As a soluble fiber inulin helps with gut health and digestion because it is digested more slowly. This helps the body absorb more nutrients and can assist with increasing absorption of calcium. Fiber also helps assist with relieving constipation by increasing frequency and the consistency of bowel movements. Inulin can be effective at weight management. Since Inulin's are Oligofructoses, they can be an appetite suppressant and assist with weight loss.

Inulin works in synergy, the consumption of inulin-rich foods with fatty proteins can reduce cholesterol absorption; as it passes through the digestive tract since it is not metabolized until it is in the colon. This can assist with overall cardiovascular health which assists with maintaining weight management and diminishes risks of developing cardiovascular-related health diseases that lead to weight gain and can be further exasperated by weight gain.

The slow digestion of inulin can assist with controlling blood glucose by reducing blood sugar spikes. Therefore, inulin can also assist with diabetic control. This is beneficial for diabetics but is also important for those trying to control blood glucose spikes and prevent the development of Type II Diabetes.

As a soluble dietary plant fiber, it is naturally a plant storage carbohydrate in several vegetables and plants. Inulin is available in 36, 000 plant species, in varying degrees, so it is readily available. Inulin can be found in particular vegetables and plants. This is the most common and safest way to get Inulin in your diet.

Inulin can be acquired from eating plants, these are common sources: -Wheat -Onions -Bananas -Garlic -Asparagus

-Jerusalem artichokes -Agave


-Wild Yams

-Chicory Root

Another source of Inulin can be acquired through supplementation. Inulin is extracted from

dried chicory root and becomes a powdery texture.

Chicory Root contains the highest percentage of inulin, and is the main plant of extraction. In this form, it is used as a supplement or part of a prebiotic supplement blend. A familiar brand name example is Culturelle ®.

In this form, it can also be used as an independent dietary fiber supplement or contained in a prebiotic supplement blend. Inulin is often used as a flavor enhancer or a fat replacer in food manufacturing, and It can be added to beverages.

Also, inulin has been known to have a synergetic effect with other high-intensity sweeteners (HIS).

Inulin as part of a low-calorie or non-nutritive sweetening and sugar reducing system; in sugar-free products or sugar-free mixes, aids by enhancing sweetness. This diminishes the amount of sugar needed in recipes and other food products.

Inulin is considered a Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) food according to the Federal Drug Administration (FDA). This means it is deemed safe for use as a chemical or food substance by experts and doesn’t have to go through the rigorous vetting process. An average supplement amount is 5 grams to 14 grams per day with gradual increases but should not exceed 30 grams per day. Of course, this is only available through the powdery supplement form, not through whole plant or vegetable sources.

All food products have some potential for an allergic reaction that can lead to anaphylaxis. Especially if it is an initial encounter. Therefore, it is recommended to increase consumption gradually. Also, consulting a healthcare provider before supplementation is highly recommended for any type of supplementation, in order, to lessen contraindication. Most adverse side effects are due to the amount of dietary fiber and are quite common. Symptoms Include: Gas Bloating Diarrhea Constipation and Cramps These symptoms increase with supplementation over 30 grams.

Inulin has very few known adverse reactions or side effects. The known side effects are generally common for dietary fiber consumption and become more severe with higher amounts of supplementation. Of course all food products and supplements can illicit an allergic reaction and lead to a life-threatening allergic reaction like anaphylaxis. So all prior supplementation or consumption should be consulted with your healthcare provider.

As a non-digestible fiber it provides: 1-1.5 kcal/grams

  • 0.2 grams net Carbs

  • 0 grams added Sugars

  • 0 grams of Fat

  • 0 grams of Protein

Inulin is primarily used as a Carbohydrate source. It is a low-calorie and low-carbohydrate food. It has zero sugars, fat, and protein and thus is used for fat and sugar enhancement in food products. For use alone, Inulin is not a good source for overall macronutrients.

Inulin has amazing potential as a functional food and supplementation. Especially its health benefits for gut and digestion health. It is readily available in plant and vegetable sources but also available in supplement form alone and prebiotic blends, but whole foods are the safest way to obtain inulin in the diet.

Inulin has amazing potential as a prebiotic food.

Its ability to promote gut health is beneficial for:

-Feeding good Gut Bacteria

-Assist with Digestion and Fullness

-Assist with Absorption of Nutrients

-Assist with blood glucose and prevent Blood Sugar spikes

-Assist with lowering the absorption of Dietary Cholesterol

-Assist with Weight Loss as an Appetite Suppressant Inulin has many nutrient and health & wellness-promoting benefits and is a true GUT HELPER!

References: [1] (2018). The Declaration of Certain Isolated or Synthetic Non-Digestible Carbohydrates as Dietary Fiber on Nutrition and Supplement Facts Labels: Guidance for Industry. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Food and Drug Administration Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, 1-9.

[2] Abed et al. (2016). Inulin as Prebiotics and its Applications in Food Industry and Human Health; A Review. International Journal of Agriculture Innovations and Research, 5 (1), 88-97.

[3] Abram et al. (2007). An Inulin-Type Fructan Enhances Calcium Absorption Primarily via an Effect on Colonic Absorption in Humans. American Society for Nutrition: Journal of Nutrition, 137, 2208-2212.

[4] Berizi et al. (2017). The use of inulin as fat replacer and its effect on texture and sensor properties of emulsion type sausages. Iranian Journal of Veterinary Research, 18 (4), 253-257.

[5] Carlson et al. (2018) Health Effects and Sources of Prebiotic Dietary Fiber. Current Developments in Nutrition Review, 2, 1-8.

[6] Guess et al. (2015). A randomized controlled trial: the effect of inulin on weight management and ectopic fat in subjects with prediabetes. Nutrition & Metabolism, 12 (36), 1-10.

[7] Holscher et al. (2015). Agave Inulin Supplementation Affects the Fecal Microbiota of Healthy Adults Participating in a Randomized, Double-Blind, Placebo-Controlled, Crossover Trial. Journal of Nutrition, 2025-2032.

[8] Krupa-Kozak et al. (2017). The effect of oligofructose-enriched inulin supplementation on gut microbiota, nutritional status and gastrointestinal symptoms in pediatric coeliac disease patients on a gluten-free diet: study protocol for a pilot randomized controlled trial. Nutrition Journal, 16(47), 1-9.

[9] Mitchell et al. (2015). The Effect of Prebiotic Supplementation with Inulin on Cardiometabolic Health: Rationale, Design, and Methods of a Controlled Feeding Efficacy Trial in Adults at Risk of Type 2 Diabetes. Contemporary Clinical Trials, 45, 328–337.

[10] Niness, Kathy R. (1999). Common Ingredient profiles of Multi-Ingredient Pre-Workout Supplements. Nutrients Journal, 11 (254), 1-8.

[11] Rao et al. (2019). Effect of Inulin-Type Carbohydrates on Insulin Resistance in Patients with Type 2 Diabetes and Obesity: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Diabetes Research, 1-13.

[12] Roberfroid, Marcel B. (2005). Introducing inulin-type fructans. British Journal of Nutrition 93 (1), S13–S25.

[13] Smith et al. (2015). An Investigation of the Acute Effects of Oligofructose-Enriched Inulin on Subjective Wellbeing, Mood and Cognitive Performance. Nutrients, 7, 8887–8896.


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