This carbohydrate got its name from the name of the plant Inula helenium, from which it was isolated at the beginning of the 19th century. The benefits and harms of inulin, its dietary properties have been actively explored since the 1990s, and since that time, they have gained great popularity and preparations based on it.
What is inulin and what is it for?
Inulin is an organic carbohydrate, a polysaccharide that contains tubers and stems of more than 300 plants, among which are the leaders in terms of the number of Jerusalem artichoke and chicory. In fact, it serves as an energy reserve of the plant, which is formed from the residues of fructose.
Inulin, which is close in its chemical formula to fiber, at the same time exhibits the properties of a prebiotic, nourishing the intestinal microflora and purifying the body from harmful substances.
Physically, the substance has the form of a white powder, soluble in hot liquid and is widely used in the food industry for the production of fructose.
Inulin production technology
Inulin is mined mainly from Jerusalem artichoke and chicory, in a gentle cold-pressed manner, the benefit of which is that it helps to preserve all the valuable properties of this prebiotic.
Raw materials are crushed under the action of steam to prevent its enzymatic oxidation and preserve useful properties. The resulting powder in special U-shaped columns – extractors – with the participation of hot water is subjected to extraction with the formation of inulin itself. Extracted raw material thickens, causing the inulin to precipitate, then it is passed through a series of purification steps and dried.
Useful properties of inulin
Like fiber, in the upper parts of the gastrointestinal tract the absorption of inulin does not occur, therefore, while maintaining the same appearance, it gradually passes into the intestine, performing the function of a “broom” and cleansing the intestine, which improves its motility.
However, this is where its similarity with fiber ends: in the large intestine, absorption of the substance begins with simultaneous feeding of the beneficial “native” organism bifidobacteria, which, unlike “foreign” living bacteria contained in dairy products, cannot but be absorbed. Here he assumes the function of a prebiotic with all the beneficial properties of the latter to stimulate the growth of the beneficial and prevent the harm of the development of pathogenic microflora and dysbiosis.
The use of inulin as a prebiotic and cleaner for the body is not limited only to these functions:
- Proved the property of inulin to cleanse the body of toxins, radionuclides and heavy metals.
- With the help of inulin such trace elements as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus are absorbed 30% better. And due to the increased absorption of magnesium, an increase in the activity of more than 300 enzymes occurs that affect the regulation of the cardiovascular system and the level of fat in the blood.
The benefits of inulin for weight loss
In the process of losing weight, the body undergoes a large load: both physiological and emotional.
Weight loss with the use of inulin occurs gradually due to the stimulation of lipid and carbohydrate metabolism. Its entry into the blood stream helps the binding of triglycerides, fatty acids and cholesterol, the regulation of the activity of liver enzymes that affect the metabolism of fats, as well as the absorption of glucose and a decrease in its level in the blood.
As a useful prebiotic, inulin stimulates the activity of the intestines, benefiting detoxification of the body from harmful toxins, thanks to which the digestibility of beneficial substances is optimized.
Due to the gel-forming and enveloping action of inulin, saturation hormones are activated in the stomach, which reduces the feeling of hunger during the use of the drug.
In addition, the low calorie content of the product speaks in favor of its use on diets.
The advantage of the benefits of inulin in the composition of the drugs is its natural mild effect on the body: the course must be long and the results appear from the third month, which indicates an undoubted benefit to health.
For maximum manifestation of the beneficial properties of the additive, experts recommend that you accompany the course of treatment with a therapeutic diet and exercise.
Which products contain inulin
From organic sources, Jerusalem artichoke has the highest content of inulin: 14–18%.
Further rating by percentage of the content of the polysaccharide continues:
- chicory – 15-20%;
- garlic – 9-16%;
- onions and leeks – 2 – 10%.
And more modestly expressed its amount in the composition of bananas, cereals.
Inulin also contains a dairy product line: milk, cheese, kefir, butter.
From medicinal plants the content of inulin is famous for dandelion and elecampane.
Use of inulin
The substance is used as an improver of the properties of ice cream, sauces and other products from vegetable and dairy fats: with its participation, products acquire a bright taste, similar to those that animal fats have.
The product is also used as a stabilizer for the structure of products in the food industry.
Inulin in baby food
Mother’s milk is a prebiotic balanced with respect to the vitamin and mineral composition, and in the future, the child’s nutrition must retain these properties — fill all the necessary elements against the background of the beneficial intestinal microflora: this function is performed by inulin. Included in infant formulas, it improves digestive functions, promotes absorption of magnesium, calcium.
Due to such beneficial properties, infant formulas with inulin help the formation of a growing organism:
- strengthening bone tissue;
- an increase in beneficial bifidoblora in the intestine;
- replenishment of vitamin and mineral reserves.
The indications of such mixtures especially concern children with problems of frequent constipation, flatulence, and dysbacteriosis.
A useful prebiotic is also included in the hypoallergenic porridges, and then their testimony applies to cases of individual allergic reactions. It also shows its benefits in accelerating the elimination of harmful allergens from the body.
Inulin in cosmetics
As an additive, the substance is part of anti-aging cosmetics and hair products.
Creams, masks, tonics and serums can have a beneficial effect on the skin:
- cleansing, moisturizing and nourishing it;
- enhancing local immunity;
- improving blood supply and oxygen exchange;
- stimulating cell regeneration, collagen synthesis and elastin production;
- softening rough areas;
- smoothing fine wrinkles;
- leveling relief.
Polysaccharide-containing products also have the useful property of ridding the body’s cells of the harm of oxidative stress that has spread in our time — against the background of poor ecology, nervous system disorders, and a love of fast food.
Due to these properties, inulin secured the importance of the organic ingredient in the technology of cosmetic production.
Chicory Soothing Lotion Recipe:
The crushed chicory (1 tablespoon) is poured with one cup of boiling water, wrapped and insisted.
As a lotion, this infusion wipes problem skin at the beginning and at the end of the day. Store means in the refrigerator no more than a week.
The addition of a polysaccharide is beneficial to the hair in preparations, providing effective moisturizing of the scalp and further nourishing the roots. Inulin has the ability to work actively with the hair trunk, restoring its damage, solving the problems of cross-section and loss, giving softness and obedience that can bring real salvation to owners of weak and dull hair.
As a conditioning additive that is part of cosmetics, it is able to wrap the hair in a protective layer, soften shampoo, smooth it out and add shine.
In addition, the advantage of inulin will be its property to fix the aromas in the composition of cosmetics.
Harm of inulin and contraindications
All contraindications to the use of inulin supplements are reduced:
- to individual intolerance;
- the period of pregnancy and lactation;
- age up to 12 years.
In such cases, the reaction of the body can be a rash, redness and peeling, digestive problems in the form of nausea, belching, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation.
In chronic diseases, the prescription of inulin-containing drugs is mandatory.
There are separate data on the harm to the body of inulin chicory in the following cases:
- parallel use of antibiotics due to the neutralizing action of inulin;
- varicose veins;
- spasmodic symptoms in the respiratory system.
Preparations with inulin
Inuline preparations do not belong to medicinal: they serve as food biologically active additives to products with dietary and therapeutic and prophylactic nutrition.
On the market are products containing high molecular weight inulin with the inclusion of cellulose various reinforcing properties of the prebiotic phytoextracts and extracts such as:
- Inulin Forte,
- Inulin-Nutrimed and others.
Inulin Forte – auxiliary drugs. It is indicated for compensated diabetes mellitus, also suitable for the prevention of coronary heart disease. A significant proportion of potassium and magnesium are necessary for normal heart function. Contains irreplaceable amino acids, macro – and microelements. The active substance is inulin, isolated from Jerusalem artichoke.
The drug has such useful properties:
- ability to normalize the activity of the cardiovascular system: the composition is rich in thiamine, riboflavin, ascorbic acid.
- due to the content of leucine and isoleucine to control the action of insulin;
- improve immunity;
- remove harmful decay products;
- suppress hunger – thanks to the tryptophan entering it; in addition, wheat bran as a source of dietary fiber helps the body to ensure rapid saturation;
- speed up metabolism;
- Fiber and pectin have properties to reduce the load on the kidneys, promote digestion processes in the intestine, which is useful for people suffering from excess weight;
- prevent the development of liver dystrophy;
- to participate in the processes of mineralization of the skeletal system – due to calcium, phosphorus;
- support blood formation with the help of iron in the composition.
How to take inulin
Inulin is prescribed to children from the age of 12 and adults 1 g three times a day (at the same time with food). One tablet contains 0.35 g of substance and 0.15 g of fibers.
In the period of use of antibiotics, this herbal remedy is contraindicated.
The benefits and harms of inulin are currently well studied due to its relevance. The beneficial properties of this supplement are difficult to overestimate: both as an alternative to glucose, and as a prebiotic, and as an excellent cleaner of the body, while the harm is associated with cases of a special reaction to the drug in allergies, pregnancy and lactation. Nevertheless, the inclusion of even a useful product in the diet should be a reasonable step, accompanied by the advice of a specialist.