Inulin Part 2 – Benefits and Side Effects

Note: Part 1 can be found here.

Benefits for Inulin and Oligofructose (FOS)

Benefits to you the consumer for Inulin and Oligofructose

  • Prebiotic – promotes the growth of intestinal bacteria absorption (5 grams per day or more dosing required)
  • Intestinal bacteria help with nutrient absorption, immune system effectiveness, and potentially reduction of colorectal cancer risk, high blood pressure, and inflammatory bowel disorders (Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis).
  • Enhances Calcium absorption (at 8 grams per day or more dosing)
  • Possibly increases Magnisium absorption
  • The extra fiber content due to Inulin/Oligofructose slows the digestion of the overall meal and lowers the glycemic index/load.
  • Low calorie – between ¼ and 1/3 the food energy of sugar (1.1 to 1.3 calories per gram)
  • Does not increase blood insulin levels on its own as it is not digested like a normal starch (only digested in colon)

 Benefits for Food Manufacturers to using Inulin and why they use it

  • Minimal flavor impact – Inulin does not typically change the flavor to the end product (within reasonable amounts)
  • Add fiber
  • Adds “creamy” body or texture to liquid products
  • Health claims – see consumer benefits
  • Very soluble and easy to mix into the product

Benefits for Food Manufacturers to using Oligofructose (FOS) and why they use it

  • Add sweetness without adding many calories; between 10-30% as sweet as sugar depending on exact formulation
  • About 1/3 the food energy of sugar
  • Minimal flavor impact other than sweetness
  • Adds “creamy” body or texture (or mouth-feel) to liquid products
  • Health claims – see consumer benefits
  • Improves moisture retention in baked goods, extending shelf life and improving chewy texture
  • Helps mask off flavors of soy & rice products

  

Negatives Issues to Inulin and Oligofructose (FOS):

Issues and Side effects to you the consumer for Inulin and Oligofructose

  • Large amounts/doses cause flatulence, bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea, constipation(rarely) and general lower GI irritation.  This will reduce over time with consistent use and gradual increasing the daily intake amount.
  • May promote growth of harmful (bad) bacteria in addition to good bacteria. 

Issues to Food Manufacturers using Inulin and Oligofructose

  • Cost is higher than other fiber types
  • Some people do not recognize the ingredient 

 

Verdict on Inulin and Oligofructose(FOS):

  • Good for you in small amounts (3-15 grams per day). 
    • Best when taken with a probiotic like yogurt and gradually increasing the intake amount (best to start at less than 3 grams per day).
  • Also consider eating the whole food version of this by eating more jerusalem artichokes (sun chokes), chicory root, onions, and garlic.
  • Inulin should not be the sole source of fiber in a diet as there are benefits to other fibers (which will be covered in a future post) and there are the previously mentioned side effects.

 

Interested in trying Inulin/Oligofructose?

Try this in your next smoothie or mixed with plain or greek yogurt plus berries.

NOW Foods Inulin/FOS blend from Amazon (note: Amazon affiliate link – same price to you)

 I’ve personally used other NOW products and am very happy with them.  My local “hippie food store” carries NOW Foods products, if that tells you anything.

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