Inulin - a prebiotic that supports the work of the entire body

Inulin - a prebiotic that supports the work of the entire body

Inulin is a natural prebiotic that exhibits a number of properties and beneficial effects on the human body.

However, the use of inulin is not limited only to improving intestinal function. The compound is used in both medicine and agriculture or cosmetics. What other secrets does inulin hide? And is it worth including it in your daily diet?

Inulin - what is it?

Inulin is made up of over 30 monosaccharide molecules that are linked by β-2,1-glycosidic bonds into an unbranched chain.

It is a polysaccharide of plant origin and resembles starch. Is the spare material of plants from which they can derive organic compounds necessary for growth or other processes. Inulin also protects plants from dehydration and overcooling. It accumulates primarily in roots, tubers and rhizomes, and less frequently in leaves as well.

Inulin - fiber, prebiotic and functional food?

Dietary fiber is a substance of plant origin that is not digested or absorbed in the digestive tract. We can distinguish between soluble and insoluble fiber. Inulin exhibits the properties of both fractions, as it is not digested in the upper gastrointestinal tract and enters the large intestine in undigested form, where it undergoes bacterial fermentation in the colon.

It is also a prebiotic, that is, a nutrient for the good bacteria that are found in the digestive tract. Inulin is also classified as a functional food. What does it mean?

Functional foods are foods that have a beneficial effect on health and the body, over and above that due to the nutritional effect of the naturally occurring essential nutrients in it. In other words, functional foods, and therefore inulin, can positively affect the human body.

How specifically does inulin affect the body and to what properties does it owe its health-promoting effects in the human body?

Properties of inuliny

Inulin exhibits a number of health-promoting properties in the system. This compound can support both the body's intestinal microflora and the immune system. In addition, it can affect the absorption of minerals and the concentration of cholesterol in the blood serum.

How is this possible? We already explain!

Inulin and bacterial microflora

Inulin is a natural prebiotic that, when taken regularly, can support intestinal bacterial flora and contribute to its proliferation.

There are over 400 different types of bacteria in the human intestine. Among them are both those that are beneficial to the functioning of the human body, as well as potentially pathogenic bacteria.

When beneficial bacteria dominate in the system, they prevent the growth of pathogenic microorganisms. Inulin supports this process.

Because it is resistant to digestive enzymes, it reaches the large intestine unchanged and then can become a nutrient for intestinal microflora. Inulin stimulates the proliferation and growth of beneficial bacteria, and may thus also have the effect of increasing the immunity of the entire body.

It also affects intestinal peristalsis, so it can increase stool volume by binding water and forming a gel. Thus, inulin may make it easier for fecal masses to move along the intestine and may increase the frequency of bowel movements. This compound can therefore relieve constipation, which is common especially among the elderly.

Inulin and cholesterol

Inulin can make bile acids, responsible for the production of cholesterol, to be bound in the small intestine and excreted from the body. Thus, it can help lower serum cholesterol levels, as well as very low-density lipoprotein (VLDL) and triglyceride levels.

It can also reduce hepatic production of fatty acids and thus have a positive effect on the cardiovascular system.

Recommended products with inulin

Inulin and minerals

Inulin can positively affect the absorption of minerals.

There are many theories about the compound's effect on increasing mineral absorption, one of which suggests that inulin lowers the pH in the small intestine and causes mucosal growth in the large intestine, which increases the ability to absorb elements such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and iron.

Inulin and diabetes and weight reduction

Inulin can be used as a sweetener. It is especially recommended for diabetics, as it is distinguished by its low glycemic index.

It does not cause a sudden increase in the concentration of glucose in the blood and provides the body with fewer calories than ordinary white sugar, and food products containing its addition are distinguished by their lower energy content. Therefore, inulin is used by people on diabetic and reducing diet.

Preliminary reports also suggest that inulin can be used by weight loss sufferers, as it can increase the sensation of satiety while reducing food intake.

The use of inulin

In addition to its health-promoting effects on the human body, inulin is also used in many areas of daily life.

In medicine, the compound is used to determine kidney function. Because it is an inconvenient method, it has not been used in everyday clinical medicine. However, due to its high accuracy, it is used in scientific research.

In addition, inulin is used in pharmacy for the production of powders. In cosmetics - to stabilize detergents and emulsions, in turn, in agriculture, inulin is an additive to animal feeds.

Inulin is also commonly used in the food industry. It stabilizes the structure of creams, it is also distinguished by the ability to gel and swell. It does not affect the organoleptic properties of the product, and can significantly reduce its energy content.

Sources of inulin

The extraction method is used to obtain inulin. Most often, the compound is obtained from chicory, but often inulin is also obtained from Jerusalem artichoke, agave or dandelion root.

Interestingly, Jerusalem artichoke tubers contain about 20% of inulin, while fresh chicory contains as much as 68% of this compound. For this reason, it is these plants that are used in the industrial production of inulin.

Other sources of inulin can also include food products such as:

  • wheat,
  • onion,
  • bananas,
  • dates,
  • leek,
  • garlic,
  • asparagus.

After processing and isolation, inulin takes the form of a white powder, which is distinguished by its slightly sweet taste. It dissolves easily in water, and when added to food can be a substitute for sugars and fat.

Deficiency of inulin in the diet

A diet low in dietary fiber and prebiotics, including inulin, can disrupt the intestinal microflora and contribute to adverse gastrointestinal complaints, including constipation.

In addition, an inadequate supply of inulin can lower the body's overall immunity and increase the risk of various illnesses and diseases.

Excess inulin in the diet

Inulin is a natural prebiotic and is classified as a functional food, but despite this, an excess of it in the diet can also negatively affect human health.

Excessive supply of inulin can reduce the absorption of some vitamins, as well as contribute to intestinal irritation and gastrointestinal complaints such as abdominal pain, diarrhea, and bloating and gas.

When following an inulin-rich diet, it is also important to remember to stay properly hydrated. Inulin binds water in the gastrointestinal tract, so to reduce the risk of adverse symptoms and prevent dehydration, it is a good idea to take increased amounts of fluids.

Preparations with inulin

The presence of inulin in the daily menu should be considered by people on reduction diets, as well as diabetics. Also, people suffering from constipation can reach for dietary supplements rich in this ingredient.

Inulin can be used in many ways - delivered to the body in the form of tablets or powder mixed with your favorite beverage, or used as a thickener for soups and sauces, as well as an addition to yogurt or oatmeal.

Inulin, due to its health-promoting properties, can positively affect the human body, but it is worth remembering not to exceed the recommended daily servings of preparations rich in this compound.


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  3. Gupta, N., i in. (2019). Inulin: A novel and stretchy polysaccharide tool for biomedical and nutritional applications. International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, 132, s 858–863,
  4. Shoaib, M., i. In (2016). Inulin: properties, health benefits and food applications. Carbohydrate Polymers,
  5. Kiełtyka-Dadasiewicz A., Sawicka B., Krochmal-Marczak B. i wsp. (2014) Inulina jako produkt spożywczy, paszowy, farmaceutyczny, kosmetyczny i energetyczny, Towaroznawcze Problemy Jakości, 38(1): 1-5.
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