Fibre isn’t the most glamourous nutrient, but it’s vitally important to the function of your gut and your overall wellness.
And the reality is most of us don’t eat anywhere near enough.
This post introduces inulin powder as an alternative way to pad out your ingestion of roughage.
Inulin is a natural, plant-derived source of non-digestible carbohydrate and dietary fibre.1 But what you’re probably wondering is, how could inulin powder help you?
Inulin is said to have a positive effect on bowel function by influencing intestinal biota.2
Researchers who looked at data from a range of clinical trials found that inulin can have a positive effect on stool frequency and consistency.3,4 In one study of people with low stool frequency, 10g per day of native chicory inulin increased stool frequency.5
Inulin can also help calcium absorption and bone mineral mass, according to a study on adolescents who regularly consumed inulin-type fructans.6
For anyone looking for help with a weight management program, inulin can support weight loss and prevent weight gain.7,8
Inulin weight loss occurs due to decreasing feelings of hunger, which can help with regulating appetite and food intake.
In one study, people consuming higher levels of inulin report decreased appetite for sweet, salty and fatty food.9
In addition, as a soluble fibre, it also helps you feel fuller for longer. This is great news if you’re looking for help cutting down unhealthy snack urges.
Inulin slows digestion, allowing sugar to be released more slowly. This helps keep blood sugar levels in healthy check.
As a result, Inulin may play a positive role in helping control Type 2 diabetes.10
In fact, diabetes.co.uk recommends a healthy fibre intake through diet or supplements including inulin.11
Aside from helping to keep us healthy, inulin has a range of culinary uses.
For example, food manufacturers use inulin to replace unhealthy fat with a low-fat alternative and as a substitute for sugar. It can also alter food texture and improve taste.
Inulin won’t always be quoted on the back of a food packet though. This is because the ingredients list often refers to inulin with its sugar chain name.
So, look out for polysaccharides or fructooligosaccharides (FOS).
Inulin is good for…
Inulin can be found in 36,000 types of plants.12
Arguably the best source of inulin is chicory roots but onion, garlic, and some whole grains are also good sources.13
This table shows the relative levels of different inulin foods.14
|Chicory root (Cichorium intybus)||35.7 - 47.6|
|Jerusalem artichoke tuber (Helianthus tuberosus)||16.0 - 20.0|
|Garlic (Allium sativum)||9.0 - 6.0|
|Wheat (flour baked) (Titicum sp.)||1.0 - 3.8|
|Barley (raw cereal)-(Hordeum vulgare)||0.5 - 1.0|
Government guidelines recommend our fibre intake should be 30g a day (adults and children over 16).15
A study that specifically looked at the effect of inulin on constipation showed that 10g inulin a day would have a notable effect.16
That’s a lot of chicory root and artichokes to reach the daily goal from food alone. This is where inulin supplements can help.
Inulin powder supplements are high in fibre and can be incorporated into your daily diet by dissolving into drinks or food.
For example, a typical supplement provides 4.5g fibre per serving and can be enjoyed up to three times a day.17
Firstly, the good news – inulin is naturally low in calories, is high in fibre and is vegetarian and vegan friendly.
Inulin offers a host of health benefits, from helping improve support digestive health, alleviating constipation and helping weight management.
But is there such a thing as inulin intolerance? Most people will be able to take inulin in small doses without any adverse reaction.
Inulin intake should be increased progressively, to help monitor and manage any potential side effect.
Inulin increases bowel movement frequency and can help soften stools.
Yes. Inulin is a type of fructo-oligosaccharide, which is a prebiotic. According to The British Nutrition Foundation, regular consumption of prebiotics could enhance calcium absorption and support your immune function.18
An inulin prebiotic can help regulate a healthy gut environment in two ways:
As a low-fat, low-calorie, plant-derived source of fibre, inulin powder is a dietary supplement with a number of health benefits. The most notable is supporting gut health, but it can also aid with weight management, regulating blood sugars and supporting calcium absorption.
If you’re pregnant or seeking to become pregnant, or if you’re intolerant to FODMAPs, seek medical advice before taking inulin or chicory.
Last updated: August 2nd 2022
Joined Holland & Barrett: Apr 2019
Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry
Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.
After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.