Inulin fiber supplements are comprised of various inulins, or plant polysaccharides. Inulin supplements, available in powder and tablet form, are often used to supplement fiber in the diet. This supplement also acts as a prebiotic, which promotes colon health by promoting beneficial intestinal bacteria growth.
Sources of inulin for fiber supplements include a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, such as chicory root, bananas, artichokes, wheat, and rye. Inulin fiber is not absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, and native beneficial bacterium begins to ferment it as it reaches the large intestines. This fosters colon health by promoting the production of prebiotic bacterium, such as bifidobacteria and lactobacilli.
Highly-rated inulin supplements contain no artificial ingredients, additives, or preservatives. Most inulin supplements are gluten-free, making them a safe supplement for those who suffer from celiac disease or gluten intolerance. Taste is another important feature to consider when choosing an inulin fiber supplement. The supplements come in a variety of flavors, such as orange, grape, and strawberry, in addition to an unflavored powder form.
The nutrition information for inulin fiber supplements varies depending upon the manufacturer. A 1 tsp. serving of powdered inulin contains 5 calories and .07 oz. (about 2 g) of carbohydrates, which users are instructed to mix into a food or beverage before consuming. Chewable inulin fiber tablets contain 15 calories per serving, consisting of .25 oz. (about 7 g) of carbohydrates and 16% of the RDA for fiber.
The best choices for inulin supplements will be manufactured by reputable companies with a safe track record. Companies should strictly adhere to the FDA’s Good Manufacturing Practice regulations, clearly label their supplements, and be devoid of exaggerated or unrealistic health claims. Supplement companies should share tests on the efficacy and safety of their products, and report any adverse effects users may experience.
Inulin supplements may offer a wide variety of health benefits, such as reducing triglycerides and cholesterol, improving bowel function, and controlling appetite. It may also feature anti-cancer properties, as well as aiding in weight loss. Additionally, it’s considered a safe supplement for diabetics, due to the fact that it’s indigestible and doesn’t affect glucose levels. The National Academy of Sciences recommends that adults consume .74 oz. (approximately 21 g) to 1.34 oz. (about 38 g) of fiber per day, and an inulin fiber supplement can help meet those guidelines.
Inulin supplement side effects are rare and mild. Users may experience gastrointestinal upset and cramping when taken in high doses. While obtaining fiber from whole foods should be a primary choice, taking inulin fiber as a supplement can help to boost overall fiber intake.