Increasing your fiber intake, through dietary supplements or eating diverse plant foods, allows you to maintain the integrity of the intestinal barrier creating a healthy gut microbiome. Inulin is a prebiotic fiber found in certain plant foods which aids in the digestive process by creating healthy bacteria in our gut.
Prebiotic-rich foods support our gut health and a healthy digestion, and preliminary studies suggest that prebiotic fiber may positively impact the intestinal barrier, improve our mucus layer, and show a decrease in calprotectin which is a marker for inflammation. Inulin is a type of prebiotic fiber that acts as food for the already existing good bacteria in the digestive system. When your microbes feed on fiber they create short-chain fatty acids in the gut. What makes inulin so special is that it produces an abundant source of short-chain fatty acids, including butyrate, the preferred fuel for the epithelial lining in our stomach.
How to Incorporate Inulin into Your Diet
Inulin can be found in artichokes, asparagus, garlic, leek, green banana, and sunchokes, also known as Jerusalem artichokes. Sunchokes contain the highest amount of inulin, and they are my go-to source of prebiotic fiber during fall. They are in season and my sunchoke fries recipe is an easy fiber-rich swap for roasted potatoes or fries that can be enjoyed by the whole family. All you have to do is slice up your sunchokes into fry-sized bites, drizzle them with olive oil and salt, and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes!
You can also supplement inulin powder into your beverage of choice.
Add 2 tsp of Inulin (5g) - I recommend Now Foods Official - into your Fab 4 smoothie or morning coffee to kick start your day with all the gut-happy benefits. Increasing your daily fiber intake through whole foods or dietary supplements, such as inulin powder, can help relieve common digestive issues. For example, in individuals with constipation, it was reported that inulin ingestion was associated with a significant increase in stool frequency, suggesting a potential impact of inulin on human gut microbiota composition.
Can you give Inulin to your Child?
Inulin powder is an easy way to incorporate prebiotics into your children's diet. Inulin is safe for child consumption to help aid in digestive issues and even improve immunity to the common cold.
For the moms whose kids might have hard stools, deal with constipation, or may have (like me) had a hard start and their kids were given antibiotics early in life, this one is for you. I like to add 2 teaspoons to my children's smoothie, mix it in with yogurt, or even just in water to increase their daily fiber and prebiotic intake. Not only does inulin powder assist in softer stool and increased healthy bacteria in the gut, but recent studies showed that kids between 3-6 who were dosed with 6g of Inulin a day experienced fewer fevers along with improved digestion.
Even though it may seem easier to reach for over-the-counter medication for relief, when it comes to gut health long-term results should be the goal. By increasing our daily intake of fiber with inulin, we can restore the gut lining and support digestion for optimal gut health.