Health benefits of the prebiotic inulin and how to get more of this dietary fiber in your day

  • 1 Minute Read
Joanna Kriehn
Joanna Kriehn, MS, RDN, CDCES - Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist (CDCES)

The prebiotic inulin is a type of dietary fiber naturally found in plant foods. It boasts several powerful health benefits, including aiding in weight loss, controlling blood sugar, and promoting gut health. It may even help lower inflammation and protect against cancer.

Prebiotic inulin fiber

How does a prebiotic like inulin fiber work in the body?

Inulin works by fertilizing good bacteria in the colon. It passes through the upper part of the digestive tract and ferments when it arrives in the colon. Many people are familiar with the term probiotic (good bacteria living in the colon). A prebiotic such as inulin works by feeding the good bacteria and influencing the overall health of the microbiome.

What are the health benefits of inulin fiber?

Inulin fiber–a prebiotic you'll find in some of your favorite foods

Foods that naturally contain inulin

Inulin in processed foods

You’ll also find inulin in processed foods when chicory root is added. Manufacturers add chicory root to products as a fat and sugar replacer and fiber booster. It is commonly used in ice cream, yogurt, or snack bars to create a creamy texture without adding calories. So if you see chicory root in the ingredient list, you know it contains inulin.

Who might need to avoid inulin in food and supplements?

Because inulin ferments in the colon, it can cause digestive side effects like bloating, gas, abdominal cramping, and more frequent bowel movements. Therefore, individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may want to avoid foods and supplements containing inulin.

Chicory root is in the same family as ragweed. Individuals allergic to ragweed should talk with their doctors before eating chicory root or taking supplements with chicory root.

Also, consuming large amounts of a chicory root supplement during pregnancy is possibly unsafe and should be avoided.

Remember, the health benefits of inulin start in the kitchen

Looking for some recipes containing the prebiotic inulin fiber? These recipes from the MyNetDiary Premium Recipe Collection are sources of naturally occurring inulin.

Asparagus Leek Soup

Garlic and Ginger Cabbage Stir-fry

Slow Cooker Beef and Barley Soup

Frozen Yogurt-Covered Bananas

To experience the health benefits of inulin, slowly add it to your diet

Proceed carefully when adding or increasing the prebiotic inulin fiber in your diet. This particular dietary fiber impacts people differently, and side effects may occur, especially when it’s added to processed foods. To see how your body responds to increased inulin, try incorporating inulin-rich foods regularly while paying attention to how your body feels. In the end, it is not worth it to suffer from stomach troubles simply in hopes of reaping inulin's health benefits.

Related content

Why you should eat good food sources of fiber every day for optimal health

The brain and gut connection: What you can do to manage your digestive symptoms

Easy ways to add more fiber to your diet; Start by taking the fiber challenge

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Reviewed and updated by Brenda Braslow, MS, RDN, LDN, CDCES on December 26, 2022.

Dec 30, 2022

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