Around this time last year, inulin supplements were gaining a large amount of publicity and news coverage. It all came about as a result of ex-newsreader Angela Rippon’s BBC programme “How to Stay Young”.
In “How to Stay Young”, Angela underwent a full body MRI scan in an effort to see how well her body has aged. Most of the news was very good as she remains active and eats a good diet; she looks in excellent health.
However, she was rather dismayed to discover that she had accumulated a relatively large amount of visceral fat, which is a type of fat that sits around the organs in your body. High amounts of this internal fat can put pressure on the organs it surrounds and causes problems like cardiovascular disease.
Usually, people with an active lifestyle and a healthy diet will fall in the healthy range for visceral fat. Unfortunately, as was Angela’s case, it can still accumulate over the years even if your lifestyle has been healthy. So, the question was asked: “if you already exercise and eat well, how can you reduce this visceral fat?” The answer to the question was to increase your intake of a type of fibre called inulin.
As you can imagine, this put inulin in the spotlight and the benefits of it were covered by a number of news sources. One year on from the programme and the surrounding publicity; is increasing your inulin intake still seen to have these anti-ageing and health benefits?
What Is Inulin?
Before we get too deep into the various benefits of inulin and the best sources, it is important for you to know a little bit about what it actually is.
Inulin is a plant-based fibre made from chains of fructose molecules, which are bound together in such a way that it makes it indigestible to your small intestine.
Since inulin can’t be digested by your small intestine, it makes its’ way to your lower gut and becomes a source of nourishment for your gut bacteria. This makes it a type of pre-biotic, which are converted in your gut and released as short-chain fatty acids around your body. It is these fatty acids that provide the numerous health benefits, including aiding the reduction of visceral fat levels.
Can Inulin Help You Stay Young?
There are a number of different studies and research pieces available that show health advantages connected with upping your inulin intake. Below is a list of some of the most important ones:
1. Weight Management & Fat Reduction
This is the reason Angela Rippon was interested in inulin originally; if body fat is reduced, visceral fat should also decrease as well.
The fat reduction benefits have been observed in a number of studies. In this popular inulin study, participants were given 21g of inulin per day versus a placebo-taking control group. The trial lasted 12 weeks in total with the inulin group seeing an average weight loss of 2lbs versus the control group, who actually gained an average of 1lb over the study period.
As well as the benefits observed for weight loss, inulin has also been seen to have some potential for controlling diabetes. This study on individuals with prediabetes shows a decrease in the build-up of fat in their livers. The result of reducing liver fat is a reduction in insulin resistance, which can help regulate blood sugar levels and improve Type 2 Diabetes symptoms.
The same study also saw a higher drop in body weight for insulin takers versus those taking another form of fibre called cellulose. The inulin group lost 7.6% of their body weight over the course of 18 weeks, while the cellulose group dropped just 4.9% of their total weight.
2. Improved Digestive Health
We discussed earlier that inulin functions as a pre-biotic inside your gut to help feed the bacteria that live there. There are actually both “good” and “bad” bacteria living inside of your lower gut and it is vital that the good types are encouraged to grow.
In particular, insulin has been shown to stimulate the growth of Lactobacilli and Bifidobacterium. These are both types of good bacteria that help boost your immune system, prevent infection and counteract the growth of bad types of gut bacteria.
As another digestive health bonus, there has been research to suggest inulin can help overcome constipation as well. The linked study saw that individuals who were given 15g of inulin each day for just 4-weeks had reduced symptoms of constipation and improved overall digestion.
3. Better Heart Health
Admittedly, the research seems to be slightly mixed on this one since many of the studies were done on mice. However, some studies do show an improvement in heart health markers in human test subjects.
The main way in which inulin can improve your heart health and reduce heart-related diseases is by decreasing the triglycerides in your blood and lowering the levels of bad cholesterol. This study shows a reduction in several factors relating to poor cardiovascular health and diabetes.
How To Increase Your Inulin Intake
Inulin is found in many different plants. Some of the best edible sources of inulin are chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes, jicama, garlic, asparagus, leeks and onions.
Out of the vegetables listed, chicory root clocks in at the highest inulin content, with around 40g of inulin per 100g of chicory root. The downside is that it can be quite difficult to consistently get enough inulin through only vegetable sources.
This is where inulin supplementation can be very useful. Usually available in powder form, good inulin supplements will contain mainly vegetable extracted inulin. The benefit of supplementing with inulin is that is very affordable and much easier to reach the suggested daily dose for the health advantages discussed above. A recommended dosage of inulin is around 10-15g but some studies have gone as high as 30g each day.
The best option is to begin slowly with supplementation to test for any adverse side effects. Once you are confident that you aren’t experiencing any unwanted effects, you may be able to increase the dosage slightly. Individuals with Fermentable, Oligo-, Di-, Mono-saccharides and Polyol (FODMAP) intolerances may experience adverse effects to an increase in inulin ingestion.
Of course, you should always consult your GP before beginning any new supplementation regime.
Inulin Supplements From Hellenia
If you want to try out a very high quality and affordable inulin powder from 100% natural vegetable sources, please visit our online store: http://www.hellenia.co.uk/products/orafti-inulin.html. Our products are made in the UK from high purity, sustainably sourced materials, and can be purchased directly through our website.