When you see inulin on a food label, such as a container of kefir or yogurt, have you ever wondered what it is and what it does when added to your food? Just don't confuse inulin with insulin. Inulin is a fiber.
It's put in some foods to replace fat, as in non-fat kefir and yogurt products. According to the study and article, "Added soluble fiber enhances the satiating power of low-energy density liquid yogurts," by 1. Perrigue MM, Monsivais P, and Drewnowski A, inulin is a soluble fiber. The study appeared in the Journal of the American Dietetic Society 2009. Inulin is put into the food to possibly help control food intake. But it's also a dietary fiber that thickens the yogurt or kefir. Check out the site, "Inulin Studies in Humans: Overview of Health Benefits."
Inulin, the fiber, comes from plant-based foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. As far as health benefits, it is said to promote gastrointestinal health, helps lower blood cholesterol levels, and may reduce the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Check out the sites, "Health Benefits of Inulin" and "INULIN: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions and Warnings - WebMD." Also see, "Nutritional and Health Benefits of Inulin and Oligofructose."
Inulin, also known as a polysaccharide, is a soluble fiber classed as a fructan. Fructans are chains of fructose indigestible by our body, but loved by the good bacteria in our gut flora. Since our body cannot digest the fructans, inulin has very little impact on blood sugar. And unlike other sugars, is not insulemic, according to the article, "Health Benefits of Inulin."
According to that article, which also provides references to studies and their results, inulin is a natural food fiber found in more than 30,000 plants, including fruits and vegetables. Inulin resists digestion in the upper gastrointestinal (GI) tract but is fermented by microflora in the colon. This fermentation leads to increased fecal biomass and water content of stools, thereby improving bowel regularity.
Inulin has also been found to have features different from many other fibers and may have many possible health benefits
A daily dose of the recommended intake of inulin promotes immune system function, supports the cardiovascular system, and enhances the absorption of minerals in the body. Furthermore inulin can be vital for weight loss or calorie reduced diets, works as a digestive aid, and can be invaluable for diabetics.
High-fiber diets have also been associated with weight maintenance and weight loss. Inulin is a naturally-occurring soluble fiber that's added to an increasing number of processed foods in order to increase dietary fiber, replace fat, and add mild sweetness.
A recent study (1) investigated the effect of inulin on hunger, fullness (satiety), and the amount of food consumed at the next meal. Each of 38 participants completed six different testing conditions: high-calorie yogurt drink with inulin, high-calorie yogurt drink without inulin, low-calorie yogurt drink with inulin, low-calorie yogurt drink, without inulin, orange juice with equal calories to low-calorie yogurt drink, and no drink.
In the study, "Added soluble fiber enhances the satiating power of low-energy density liquid yogurts," researchers found that for each testing condition, participants consumed the beverage in the morning; rated their hunger, fullness, thirst, nausea, and desire to eat every 20 minutes for 2 ½ hours; then ate as much of the served lunch meal as they desired. The researchers found that all of the yogurt drinks suppressed hunger more strongly than an equal volume of orange juice.
The high-calorie yogurt drinks suppressed hunger the strongest, but the low-calorie yogurt drink with added inulin suppressed hunger as well as the high-calorie yogurt drink without inulin. The results suggest that six grams of added inulin can be as filling as 260 calories, according to the study.
The study, "Added soluble fiber enhances the satiating power of low-energy density liquid yogurts," supports the hypothesis that dietary fiber such as inulin plays a role in weight management or weight loss by helping control food intake. For more information, check out the study/article, "Added soluble fiber enhances the satiating power of low-energy density liquid yogurts," by 1. Perrigue MM, Monsivais P, and Drewnowski A. published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Society 2009. Also, you may wish to check out the site, "Inulin Health Benefits."