THIS “INULIN” THING.
I am always just a tad late on the hottest, newest eating trends…however, I got in on this one just before it exploded!
If you’ve done any reading at all on gut health, then you may have heard of inulin.
Inulin is a fiber that has been linked to several health benefits, and is added to many foods. It can be purchased as a supplement in many health food stores and online.
However, some people have concerns about its side effects and how well it works.
This article takes a detailed look at inulin and its health effects.
What is inulin?
While inulin is found in many plants, it also comes in supplement form, generally as a powder. This is what it looks like.
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 (1).
Inulin is relatively low in calories, providing 1.5 calories per gram.
Plants containing inulin have been around for a very long time, and our ancestors consumed much more inulin than we do today.
Natural Sources of Inulin
Although many plants contain only small amounts of inulin, others are excellent sources. Here’s how much inulin is in 3.5 oz, or 100 grams, of the following foods:
- Asparagus: 2-3 grams.
- Chicory root: 36-48 grams.
- Garlic: 9-16 grams.
- Jerusalem artichoke: 16-20 grams.
- Jicama: 10-13 grams.
- Onions: 1-8 grams.
- Yacon root: 7-8 grams
Manufactured sources of inulin
Inulin is also available in supplement form or as an ingredient in protein bars, cereal bars, yogurt and other products. Manufactured inulin comes in several forms:
Health benefits of inulin
People take inulin for a variety of reasons. It may improve digestive health, relieve constipation promote weight loss and help control diabetes.
Improves digestive health
The gut microbiota is the population of bacteria and other microbes that live in your gut. This community is highly complex, and contains both good and bad bacteria.
Having the right balance of bacteria is essential for keeping your gut healthy and protecting you from disease.
Inulin can help promote this balance. In fact, studies have shown that inulin can help stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria. Increasing the amounts of these bacteria can help improve digestion, immunity and overall health.
Promotes weight loss
Several studies indicate that inulin can also help with weight loss.
When overweight and obese adults took 21 grams of inulin per day, their hunger hormone levels decreased and their fullness hormone levels increased.
On average, the people taking inulin lost over 2 lbs, while the control group gained about 1 lb during the 12-week study.
Helps control diabetes
Several studies suggest that inulin may improve blood sugar control in people with diabetes and prediabetes .
However, this may depend on the type of inulin, and the high-performance (HP) type may be especially beneficial. For example, one study found that HP inulin decreased fat in the livers of people with prediabetes.
This is significant, as reducing fat in the liver can help reduce insulin and potentially reverse type 2 diabetes.
In another study, women with type 2 diabetes were given 10 grams of HP inulin per day. Their fasting blood sugar decreased by an average of 8.5%, while hemoglobin A1c (a marker for long-term blood sugar control) fell by an average of 10.5% .
Other potential benefits
There is some evidence that inulin supplements may help other conditions, although the evidence is not as strong.
This includes benefits for heart health, mineral absorption, colon cancer and inflammatory bowel disease.
Now that we know WHAT it can do……here are a couple of fun ways to consume Inulin:
1 cup fresh brewed coffee
2 tsp (work up slowly) Inulin
1/2 tsp sugar or substitute
Steamed milk or plant-based cream to taste
TAHINI INULIN BROWNIES
1/2 CUP TAHINI
1/2 CUP COCONUT MILK ( FULL FAT )
1/2 CUP SUKRIN GOLD SUGAR ALTERNATIVE (OR COCONUT SUGAR)
1/2 CUP DARK CHOCOLATE CHIPS ( I USED LILY’S SWEET)
1/4 CUP UNSWEETENED COCOA POWDER
5TBS INULIN POWDER
1TSP BAKING POWDER
1TSP VANILLA EXTRACT
SPRINKLE OF SALT
1/4 CUP OF WALNUTS ( OPTIONAL)
- PREHEAT OVEN TO 375F
- MIX ALL INGREDIENTS IN A MEDIUM MIXING BOWL , MIX WELL ( WITH A WHISK )
- WHEN ALL COMBINE POUR THE BATTER INTO A BROWNIE PAN ( SPRAY YOUR PAN OR USE PARCHMENT PAPER UNDER)
- BAKE FOR 12-15 MINUTES OR UNTIL TOOTHPICK COMES OUT CLEAN AND VOILA
These brownies are my fave!!!! Try them at least once…… the kids won’t even know they are healthy!!