Ingredient Spotlight: Inulin
Like other fibers, inulin has no practical caloric value because it cannot be broken down by the body. However, it can still work to regulate your appetite by slowing digestion and increasing your feelings of fullness.Along with taking up room in your stomach, inulin is thought to play a role in repressing problematic hunger hormones like glucagon-like peptide 1. Inulin may also suppress cravings and reduce the risk of diabetes by enhancing glucose tolerance.In one study both young and older children reported greater feelings of satiety after ingesting inulin. The older children were also found to take less food at a buffet. Another investigation done on patients with prediabetes found that patients taking inulin lost 2.5 percent more weight than patients told to take cellulose instead.Inulin can also improve your digestive health because it is a prebiotic, which means it serves as a food source for the healthy bacteria in your gut: for example, bifidobacteria.Such bacteria can then release short-chain fatty acids, which can lead to health benefits as varied as improved heart health and better brain function. Inulin thus may be especially useful to people taking antibiotics that might otherwise wipe out these good bacteria.Inulin's digestive-slowing effect also promotes greater absorption of calcium and other minerals. Plus, inulin has been associated with potential reductions in triglycerides, better bone health, and better immune functioning. Animal studies have even suggested it may play a role in preventing colon cancer.One study also found that a group taking inulin not only had less indigestion and experienced less hunger but felt happier and performed better on a memory test!
Supplemental inulin should be safe for almost everyone, but in rare cases it may interfere with the absorption of certain medications. You can also seek out natural sources of inulin in foods like asparagus, garlic, jicama, onions, wheat, bananas, leeks, artichokes, and yacon root.
Inulin also isn't all created equal. There's long chain inulin, which has a creamy taste and can thus be used as a fat substitute in products like low-calorie dressings.
Short-chain inulin, on the other hand, has a faintly sweet taste, so it is sometimes used to reduce the amount of sugar or sugar substitutes used in a food. Since they feed different good bacteria, it's best to get a bit of both!It's thought that our predominantly plant-eating ancestors consumed about thirty five grams of inulin a day. However, jumping into such a large amount of inulin into might trigger digestive discomfort in someone not used to it. So the .3 grams you'd find in a four teaspoon serving serving of our protein powder might be a great start!
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