Ever heard of inulin before? If not, it’s a term we’re all about to become very familiar with. This dietary fiber is gaining more and more attention – and there’s a good reason, as the use of inulin can have special benefits for your gut health.
What is inulin?
It looks and sounds like the more familiar word insulin, but they are not the same. Insulin is a hormone, but not inulin. It’s a fructan, which is a type of water-soluble fiber found naturally in fruits and vegetables and added to certain food products. It’s thought to benefit the healthy bacteria in our guts.
In general, fiber is necessary for the body and digestive health. According to the National Health Service (NHS), people who consume a lot of fiber are less at risk of contracting many diet-related diseases, including obesity, hypertension, and coronary heart disease. Additionally, fiber also has some excellent immediate side effects, like helping us feel fuller for longer.
Let’s get back to inulin. This dietary fiber belongs to a group of prebiotics which are known to have positive effects on the intestinal activity of the human body. Of course, this information has the food industry listening, as you can now find it in various products – from muesli bars to fruit juice.
Most food products that have added inulin use an extract from chicory root, which is naturally dense in the fiber. According to the European Food Safety Authority, it can improve intestinal transit and increase the frequency of bowel movements. In order to ensure these results, though, you’ll need to consume at least 12 grams of the stuff a day.
Luckily for you, our Shape Shake 2.0 is rich in inulin chicory extract. It’s full of protein and fiber and nutrient-dense enough to replace a meal, and the flavor will quickly turn it into your favorite milkshake.
To better understand the relationship between inulin and gut flora, you first need to understand the difference between probiotics and prebiotics.
Probiotics are living strains of bacteria – like bifidobacterium and lactobacilli – that we consume to boost the population of healthy bacteria in our guts. Prebiotics like inulin and oligofructose, on the other hand, are dietary fibers that induce the growth of healthy bacteria in our guts.
In addition to growing healthy bacteria in our gut, prebiotics improve digestive transit. This increases the frequency of your bathroom trips as well as the biomass and weight of what comes out.
Inulin and other fibers are helpful for alleviating symptoms of constipation and promoting the health of the intestinal mucous membrane. They also reduce the risk of diarrhea because they inhibit the individual strains of bacteria that cause it.
Does inulin promote weight loss?
Inulin is a great addition to any diet because of its health benefits. In addition to ensuring regular digestion, it also improves calcium absorption. However, whether or not it can promote weight loss is another question entirely.
Here are the facts: Inulin contains almost no calories, and it’s a natural appetite suppressant because of the satiating effect it has. Fiber also takes a long time to break down in our bodies which inhibits our blood sugar levels from rapidly rising and falling – the ideal way to help prevent cravings. Because of all these reasons, eating a well-rounded diet with the recommended amount of inulin may help you lose weight if that’s something you’re interested in doing.
Our tip: Our Flavor Kicks are the perfect way to get inulin into your diet right when you wake up. Just a spoonful is enough to add a pop of flavor to coffee, yogurt, milk, muesli, and beyond. It’s a real treat.
If you are eating a balanced diet, then you’re probably already eating inulin without even realizing it. It’s naturally present in tons of fruits and vegetables, including asparagus, artichokes, leeks, onions, black salsify, Jerusalem artichokes, wheat, oats, legumes and bananas. As mentioned earlier, it’s also frequently added to processed foods, like cereal and fruit juice.
The fiber is so easy to find, you can even eat it in pizza. Not just any pizza, of course – our Gluten-Free Protein Pizza is packed with it. It also contains six times more protein and ten times more fiber compared to traditional pizza, without sacrificing an authentic Italian taste. Buon appetito!
Although inulin may improve bowel functioning, it can also lead to bloating or diarrhea in cases of intestinal sensitivity or irritation. Our guts ferment inulin very quickly, which can have negative side effects if your stomach is already operating too quickly.
You may also form an intolerance by eating too much inulin. The recommended amount is between 3 and 11 grams a day and generally doesn’t cause problems. Most people cannot eat more than 30 grams per day, but that can also vary from one person to another. When in doubt, reach out for medical advice from your doctor to find out what’s best for you.
In addition, people with fructose intolerance should be particularly careful with inulin. It’s made of fructose molecules, so consuming it can lead to some unpleasant disorders if you’re fructose intolerant!
Inulin: Our conclusion
Inulin is a water-soluble fiber that has a prebiotic effect.
It feeds healthy bacteria and reinforces intestinal flora.
Inulin can promote weight loss because it has satiating and appetite suppressing effects.
This prebiotic is naturally present in asparagus, bananas, onions and chicory, among other things.
Inulin can cause bloating or diarrhea to those with fructose intolerance or intestinal issues.
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Gesellschaft deutscher Chemiker (2003): Stellungnahme zu Fructooligosacchariden und Inulin