Probiotics are beneficial bacteria, while prebiotics are food for these bacteria. Inulin is the World's super prebiotic with many potential health benefits.
Inulin is a soluble fiber found in many plants. Your gut bacteria convert it into short-chain fatty acids, which provide several health benefits. A study tested the powder form of inulin to determine whether it contributed to feelings of health and well-being. People who took the inulin were happier, less hungry, and felt more full over a period of time than people who received a placebo.
Plants naturally produce inulin and use it as an energy source. Today, it’s being added to more and more food products because of its benefits and adaptability.
Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in many plants.
It is a “fructan” – meaning that it is made up of chains of fructose molecules that are linked together in a way that cannot be digested by your small intestine.
Instead, it travels to the lower gut, where it functions as a prebiotic, or food source for the beneficial bacteria that live there.
Your gut bacteria convert inulin and other prebiotics into short-chain fatty acids, which nourish colon cells and provide various other health benefits
Consider using inulin supplements to further promote digestive health if you’re on a probiotic regimen or currently using antibiotics to treat a bacterial illness.
Inulin can be found naturally in foods, such as:
- chicory root
- wild yams
It keeps you full (of fiber).
Fiber is any type of carbohydrate the body can’t digest. It moves through the intestines intact and continues into the colon to serve as a food for the bacteria there. Fiber has no caloric value, but it’s essential to good health.
The fiber in inulin is soluble, which means it dissolves in water. It dissolves in the stomach and then forms a gelatinous substance that:
- slows digestion
- increases fullness
- removes cholesterol as it passes through the digestive tract
Bottom line: Inulin and oligofructose supplements may help regulate appetite in adults, leading to weight loss.
Prebiotics and Sleep
Research suggests that the answer to a good night’s sleep may lie in the gut. Scientists at the University of Colorado Boulder conducted a study to find out if sleep can be improved by prebiotics – dietary fibres which feed good bacteria inside the gut.
“We found that dietary prebiotics can improve non-REM sleep, as well as REM sleep after a stressful event”- Robert Thompson, the first author of the study published in the journal Frontiers in Behavioural Neuroscience.
It promotes digestive health.
Your gut contains between 15,000 and 36,000 species of bacteria. Only a small portion of the bacteria in the body has the potential to be harmful. Good bacteria provide many health benefits. Inulin stimulates these bacteria to grow.
Inulin aids digestion by increasing the number of good bacteria in the gut, particularly Bifidobacteria and Lactobacilli. These bacteria help:
- fend off unwanted pathogens (bad bacteria)
- prevent infection
- stimulate your immune system
Inulin also adds bulk to your stool and increases the frequency of your bowel movements. You may have more bowel movements, but inulin slows overall digestion. This enables your body to better absorb nutrients from the food you eat.
Research suggests inulin can also enable the body to better absorb calcium. Calcium creates a stronger skeletal system.
Bottom line: Inulin supports the growth of beneficial gut bacteria. This keeps the gut bacteria balanced and may have various health benefit
It controls blood sugar.
Inulin slows digestion, including the digestion of carbohydrates. This allows sugar to be released slowly without spiking, which promotes healthy blood sugar levels.
A 2015 study revealed that inulin might benefit people with prediabetes. It can act as a potential blood-stabiliser when present in your diet over a long period of time.
Some research suggests these properties make inulin a good weight management aid.
Bottom line: HP inulin has been shown to reduce blood sugar levels in people with diabetes, but other forms may not be as beneficial.
It could potentially lower your cancer risk.
Researchers are actively exploring the use of inulin to prevent cancer.
As an immune system booster, it may also be a good preventative supplement against cancers of the digestive system. One study found the combination of probiotics and prebiotics such as inulin has the potential to reduce colon cancer risk.
Bottom line: Animal studies have found that inulin can reduce gut inflammation and reduce the growth of precancerous cells. This may lead to a reduced risk of colon cancer, but more research is needed.
May help treat inflammatory bowel disease
Several animal studies suggest that inulin supplements may have benefits against inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) Research.
A few small, human studies have also found reduced symptoms of ulcerative colitis, and a reduction in inflammatory markers in Crohn’s disease
Bottom line: Inulin may also have benefits against inflammatory bowel diseases, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.