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What is inulin: a gastroenterologist named 9 of its beneficial health properties

Date: April 20, 2024 Time: 08:17:02

gastroenterologist of the Medical On Group clinic in Mytishchi

“The intestinal microflora contains around a thousand species of bacteria. They perform essential functions and influence many processes in the body. We need to support their growth or simply feed them, i.e. prebiotics (inulin).”

What is inulin?

Inulin is a natural soluble dietary fiber found in large quantities in plant foods. It is not digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract and reaches the colon unchanged. As a result, the “prepared food” reaches our bacteria and their number increases. Lactic acid bacteria are especially happy with this diet.

Sources of inulin

Inulin is a starchy substance found in many fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Among them:

wheat; onions and leeks; bananas; artichokes; asparagus; dandelion root; Jerusalem artichoke; garlic; chicory root; dahlia tubers.

Photo: istockphoto.com/FlamingoImages

The daily intake of inulin is about 15 to 20 grams. If you are intolerant to the above products, inulin can be taken in powder or capsule form. Product manufacturers often add it to confectionery products, sausages, sweeteners and dietary supplements (dietary supplements).

Inulin, which is used in supplements, is usually obtained by soaking chicory roots in hot water.

Health Benefits of Inulin

People often use inulin in an attempt to treat or prevent digestive problems. However, its beneficial properties do not end there.

In particular, the substance has the following health effects:

1. Increases the amount of beneficial bacteria in the colon. It is known that with sufficient intake of inulin from food, bacteria in the large intestine begin to secrete a useful component – butyrate. It reduces inflammation of the intestinal mucosa, which produces pain relief and normalization of stools. This has been shown by scientists in studies of patients with irritable bowel syndrome.

Photo: istockphoto.com/Vanessa Nunes

2. Fight constipation. Inulin promotes the release of mucus in the intestines. As a protective “mantle”, it helps the smooth movement of the contents and has a laxative effect. That is why it is very important to maintain a drinking regimen while taking inulin.

3. Strengthening the immune system. A sufficient amount of inulin in the diet affects the immune system. The substance improves the body’s resistance to respiratory diseases.

It is worth noting that breast milk not only contains healthy proteins, but also inulin, proving its importance for health, especially for children. That is why it is added to infant formulas, imitating the naturalness and similarity to breast milk.

4. Improves nutrient absorption. In particular iron, calcium, magnesium. This is especially important for people suffering from osteoporosis and women during menopause.

5. Protects against diabetes. Inulin reduces blood glucose levels, that is, it is a prevention of diabetes mellitus and a component of therapeutic nutrition for an already developed disease.

6. Helps control appetite, promotes weight loss. Inulin can be used in a weight loss program. Like dietary fiber, it “swells” in the stomach, increases the content and, as a result, gives a feeling of satiety and regulates eating habits.

Photo: istockphoto.com/SDI Productions

7. Reduces cholesterol levels. Inulin reduces the production of liver enzymes responsible for fat secretion. It also increases the production of peptides which, in turn, help remove cholesterol from the body.

8. Fight toxins. Among other beneficial properties, inulin can neutralize harmful toxins in the intestinal lumen. It has an absorbent effect.

9. Protects against cancer. There is evidence of the antitumor effect of inulin. In a study on bowel cancer, foreign scientists noted a decrease in tumor growth due to the effect on cellular immunity.

We totally depend on the behavior of the microbiome, which affects our activity, our resistance to disease and even our mood.

Side effects

In most cases, inulin is well tolerated, but it can still cause several side effects. Among them:

swelling; excess gases; abdominal cramps; soft stools.

Photo: istockphoto.com/g-stockstudio

Excess inulin can even interfere with the absorption of some vitamins.

Possible risks

Prebiotics like inulin are generally considered safe. However, it has its contraindications.

The possible risks of taking additional supplements are:

intolerance, allergic reactions to pollen, dandelion, chicory, gallstones.

Therefore, it is better not to take such a harmless and extremely healthy product as a dietary supplement alone. You need to consult your doctor.

Application of inulin in the food and medical industries.

Inulin, a dietary fiber with high solubility and prebiotic properties, is widely used in the food and medical industries due to its unique characteristics.

Photo: istockphoto.com/izkes

It is used in food supplements and functional products as a natural prebiotic. This makes inulin a popular ingredient in products used to support intestinal and general health.

Plant fiber occurs naturally in many foods, including some types of bread. Many supplements containing inulin have also been developed. These prebiotic products can be produced in various forms: powders, capsules and liquids.

Inulin is also attracting scientific attention due to its potential medical properties. Some research suggests that this prebiotic may have beneficial effects on blood glucose levels, gut health, and calcium and magnesium absorption. These properties make it a promising component for various medical applications.

Taking inulin with food is safe, but you can’t supplement with this prebiotic on your own. Excess of the substance can have a negative effect on health. You should definitely consult your doctor.

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Puck Henry
Puck Henry
Puck Henry is an editor for ePrimefeed covering all types of news.
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