Inulin powder is, in my opinion, about to explode. Thanks in large part to Ingrid de la Mare who is educating the Instagram world about the benefits of this pure prebiotic fiber powder (depending which one you buy, inulin is usually made from Jerusalem artichoke or chicory root). Fiber is the indigestible part of a carb – meaning you poop it out – but before it gets ushered out of your body it helps fill you up (which is why it’s so great for weight loss… it helps you lose weight without being hungry!). Like GG crackers, inulin is a way to insure you are getting enough fiber, but it shouldn’t be your only source of fiber. Think of it as a supplement to compliment the fiber you’re getting from your whole foods. For optimal digestion and weight loss 35 grams of fiber a day is ideal. Above you can see Ingrid pouring some inulin powder into her coffee. Because it’s a powder you can put it in pretty much anything, but I love it in coffee! Just make sure to stir it throughout the coffee making process to avoid it “gel’ing.” I use three small scoops a day in my morning ice coffee.
To find out more specifics about the health benefits of inulin and how to best consume it, I spoke with Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD.
What is inulin exactly?
Inulin is a special type of soluble fiber called fructooligosaccaride or “FOS” for short.
Where is it found?
Inulin is found in the starchy part of plants, such as bulbs or rosettes. It is commercially harvested from several sources, including Blue Agave, Jerusalem artichoke, and chicory root.
What are the main benefits?
It helps promote a healthy gut. It’s a prebiotic, which means it feeds good bacteria (probiotics) in our gut so they can be healthier & stronger. A healthy gut is important for our digestive wellness (more regularity/less bloating) as well as our overall immunity. Plus, research suggests that a healthy gut can positively affect our skin, which means radiating beauty from the inside out.
What are things people should look for when deciding on which one to buy?
As with ALL supplements, look for brands that do extensive in-house testing such as NOW Foods. Extensive supplement testing means you can trust what’s on the label is actually in the bottle and that ingredients have been tested for quality, safety and purity.
What is the best way to consume inulin?
Although you can get inulin naturally in foods, to get a concentrated dose, a supplement is needed. Inulin powder is easy to mix into any meal and has a small dose (1-3 teaspoons/day). So using a powdered form of inulin is easier than even taking pills or capsules. It can be added to smoothies or stirred into drinks, oatmeal, or yogurt.
How does inulin powder compare to the fiber you get from food?
Inulin is found naturally in some foods such as onions, bananas and jicama, but supplements come in to get more concentrated, therapeutic doses. Inulin as a supplement powder has an extra bonus…it adds a mild sweet flavor to foods & drinks, but has a very low glycemic index so it will not negatively affect blood sugar levels.
Is inulin for people who can’t get enough fiber from food or even if you’re getting say 35g of fiber from food, can it still be useful?
Yes, even if a person is getting 30+g fiber per day, taking inulin can still be beneficial. This is because there are many different types of fiber, and a “prebiotic” fiber like inulin acts differently than other fibers.
PS: Highly unlikely that a person is getting enough fiber in their daily diet. It is one of our “short-fall” nutrients, meaning most people struggle to get enough.
How much do you recommend? Is there a ceiling you shouldn’t go over?
Start with about 3 grams per day, and slowly increase over the course of a couple of weeks, to about 10g per day. A daily dose of 3-10g is ideal, but in terms of a short-term ceiling: Most studies do not exceed 30g/day for more than 2-3 weeks.
Any potential side effects? Anyone who should avoid it?
Healthy adults can take inulin, but like many supplements, it’s not recommended for children. Only side effect is potential GI discomfort (gas/bloating), but that can be avoided by starting out at small doses and gradually increasing as well as drinking plenty of water when taking inulin.