Inulin, a type of soluble fiber, is naturally found in some plants. Since it is made up of fructose molecules that are linked together, inulin can’t be digested by our small intestines. It just continues to travel down into the large intestines, where it functions as a prebiotic, or food source for beneficial bacteria that live there.
Inulin, as well as the other prebiotics, are converted by our gut bacteria into short-chain fatty acids which nurture colon cells and provide various other health benefits to our body.
Remarkable Health Benefits Of Inulin
Helps Boost Our Immune System
Once inulin is consumed by our gut bacteria, they regain their strength thereby enabling them to combat pathogens in our body, promoting nerve function, preventing infections and boosting our immune system.
Helps Promote Weight loss
In a study conducted, results showed that taking 21 grams of inulin per day for over a period of 12 weeks can help increase fullness hormone levels and decrease hunger hormone levels in overweight and obese adults.
In a separate study, it was found that people with prediabetes who took inulin for 18 weeks have lost 7.6% of their body weight.
Helps Control Blood Sugar
Our blood sugar levels normally rise as our body breaks down carbs. Also, digesting carbs quickly causes our blood sugar spikes and hunger. By consuming food rich in inulin, we can slow down our body’s digestion process, including the digestion of carbohydrates. Because of this, sugar is released into the bloodstream at a slower pace, promoting stable blood sugar levels.
Researchers of a 2015 study concluded that inulin might help people with prediabetes as it can act as a potential blood-stabilizer when present in our diet for a long period of time.
It Can Potentially Lower Your Cancer Risk
Inulin may also help us prevent cancers of the digestive system. Along with probiotics, prebiotics like inulin has the potential of helping our body lower the risk of colon cancer. It is thought that the fermentation of inulin into butyrate protects colon cells.
Helps Relieve Constipation
Inulin helps relieve constipation by adding bulk to our stool and causing a more frequent bowel movement. Though our bowel frequency movements increases, our overall digestion slows down and this enables our body to better absorb nutrients from the food we eat.
May Improve Mineral Absorption And Bone Health
Some studies have revealed that inulin can help our body better absorb calcium and magnesium, which are both beneficial for our skeletal system.
While taking inulin, it was found that girls and boys aged 9-13 had significantly better calcium absorption and bone health.
Natural Sources of Inulin
We can get enough of inulin by simply improving our diet. Some plants have a small amount of inulin but there are those that are excellent sources.
A 3.5 oz or 100 grams of the foods listed below contain the following amounts of insulin:
- Onions: 1-8 grams.
- Asparagus: 2-3 grams.
- Chicory root: 36-48 grams.
- Jerusalem artichoke: 16-20 grams.
- Jicama: 10-13 grams.
- Garlic: 9-16 grams.
- Yacon root: 7-8 grams
Inulin can also be found in artichokes, bananas, leeks, dandelion greens, and wild yams.
According to experts, we need to get 30 grams of fiber in our daily diet with at least five coming from inulin or prebiotic foods.