What are its benefits?
Inulin is a starchy plant-based substance that provides dietary fiber in soluble form. Extracted from artichokes, chicory root, or other plants, inulin is not digestable by enzymes in the stomach or small intestines, so it moves on to the lower gut. There it becomes food for beneficial gut bacteria, which convert the inulin into short-chain fatty acids that nourish the cells lining the colon. This prebiotic effect of inulin has been verified in a number of studies. For example:
- A 2019 review looked at studies of herbs used in European countries to treat gastrointestinal disorders and which were shown to work via their effect on the microbiome. Among the 28 studies of 15 plants, the strongest evidence existed for the use of inulin as a prebiotic.
- A study published in 2017 found that inulin-type fructans do affect the human gut microbiota – specifically bacteria genera Bifidobacterium, Anaerostipes and Bilophila. The decreased abundance of Bilophila was linked with improved constipation-related quality-of-life reports.
In addition to increasing helpful bacteria in the colon, inulin may offer a number of health benefits, including improvement of absorption of calcium and other minerals from food, supporting a healthy immune system, providing relief to some intestinal problems, and lowering levels of triglycerides (fat in the blood).
What is it?
Inulin is a naturally occurring polysaccharide and belongs to a category of dietary fibers called fructans. One teaspoon of inulin provides 3 grams of dietary fiber. Foods that contain inulin include asparagus, bananas, burdock, chicory, dandelion root, garlic, Jerusalem artichokes, leeks, and onions.