Is Inulin Good or Bad?
At a quick glance, inulin might look like the more familiar insulin, but the two are in fact very different. You certainly would never find insulin on an ingredient label, that’s for sure. But you may find inulin on certain labels, and sometimes even all by itself in supplement form. So what is it?
Inulin is a polysaccharide that is commonly found in many types of plants, but more specifically in roots and rhizomes. It is naturally occurring and helps the plants store energy. It is considered to be a carbohydrate fiber and is commonly found in things like wheat, onions, bananas, asparagus, and garlic.
While other carbohydrates are broken down in the small intestines and turned into fuel for the body, inulin passes through the small intestines and goes right to the colon where it interacts with the bacteria in the colon and stimulates the growth of “good bacteria.”
Inulin is also used in place of sweeteners in some processed foods. Due to the body’s limited ability to process polysaccharides, inulin has very little effect on blood sugar levels and does not raise triglycerides, making it a suitable substitute for diabetics. Inulin has also been shown to increase calcium absorption.
Inulin is considerably safe for everyday consumption, but should be introduced into the diet gradually. Individuals who are not accustomed to higher levels of inulin may experience gas, bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea, specifically from the sweeter forms of inulin.
So whether you are aware of the insulin look-a-like, or this is the first time you are hearing of the polysaccharide, remember that it has many positive effects, and a few not so flattering side-effects. Feel free to share this nutrition information with friends and family and be aware of what is on the label of your foods.