What are inulins?

Inulins are a type of dietary fiber found in many plants, including chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, and dandelion root. Inulin is a complex carbohydrate made up of chains of fructose molecules. It is classified as a fructan.

Inulins are not digestible by the human body and function as prebiotics in the gut, promoting the growth of beneficial bacteria such as Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli.

Dietary sources of inulin include:

Chicory root

Jerusalem artichoke

Dandelion root

Garlic

Leeks

Onions

Wheat flour

Wheat flour is the primary source of inulin in the Western diet. Inulin is also added to some processed foods as a dietary fiber or prebiotic.

Health benefits of inulin include:

promoting gut health

aiding in weight loss

lowering blood sugar levels

reducing inflammation

increasing calcium absorption

Inulins are a type of dietary fiber found in many plants, including chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, and dandelion root. Inulin is a complex carbohydrate made up of chains of fructose molecules. It is classified as a fructan.

Side Effects

Because inulin is a type of fiber, it may cause digestive side effects such as gas and bloating. These side effects are typically mild and go away with time.

Inulin is generally considered safe, but some people may be allergic to it. If you experience any adverse reaction after consuming inulin, stop taking it and see your doctor.

Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid consuming inulin unless under the supervision of a healthcare provider.

Dosage

There is no standard dose of inulin, and dosages vary depending on the purpose for taking it. In general, 1-10 grams per day is considered a safe and effective dose. Consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best dosage for you.

Interactions

Inulin may interact with certain medications, such as blood pressure medication and blood thinners. Therefore, it’s important to speak with your doctor before taking inulin if you are taking any medications.

Mechanism of Action

Inulins promote gut health by acting as a prebiotic. Prebiotics are indigestible fibers that act as food for probiotics, the beneficial bacteria in the gut. Probiotics help keep the gut microbiota balanced, which is important for overall health.

In addition to promoting gut health, inulins have also been shown to aid in weight loss, lower blood sugar levels, reduce inflammation, and increase calcium absorption.

Research on Inulin

Most of the research on inulin has been conducted using animals. More research is needed to determine the effects of inulin on human health.

A few studies have looked at the effects of inulin on weight loss and obesity. One study found that inulin supplementation caused weight loss in rats that were on a high-fat diet.

Another study found that inulin improved insulin sensitivity and reduced fat accumulation in obese rats.

A human study found that participants who took an inulin supplement had reduced appetite and ate fewer calories than those who did not take the supplement.

In addition, a review of studies concluded that inulin may help with weight loss by increasing fullness and reducing calorie intake.

Several studies have looked at the effects of inulin on blood sugar levels. One study found that inulin lowered blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes.

Another study found that taking an inulin supplement before meals improved blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes.

A human study found that participants who took an inulin supplement had reduced blood sugar levels after eating compared to those who did not take the supplement.

Alternatives to Inulin

If you’re looking for an alternative to inulin, there are several other options available. Some other dietary fibers that may promote gut health include psyllium husk, glucomannan, and guar gum.

Psyllium husk is a type of soluble fiber that comes from the Plantago ovata plant. It’s often used as a laxative or to treat constipation. Psyllium husk is also available in powder form.

Glucomannan is a water-soluble fiber that comes from the konjac root. It’s often used as a laxative or to treat constipation. Glucomannan is also available in tablet form.

Guar gum is a soluble fiber that comes from the Endosperm of the guar plant. It’s often used as a thickening agent in food. Guar gum is also available in powder form.