Inulin is a fructan, which is a type of dietary fibre found in foods such as onions, asparagus and leeks. It is known as a prebiotic, as it can help to stimulate the growth of helpful bacteria in the human digestive system, thereby contributing to good colon health.
Because inulin is not digested by the small intestine, it makes its way further into the digestive system, where it serves as a foodstuff for this good bacteria. It is converted into short chain fatty acids, which benefit the colon.
Inulin has been shown to help relieve constipation, and some studies have indicated that it may help with weight loss. It appears to reduce hunger hormones and to promote a feeling of fullness.
Preliminary studies suggest that inulin may be able to help regulate blood sugar in diabetics and those with pre-diabetes. It has also been shown to reduce triglycerides and cholesterol. It may also help to improve the absorption of both calcium and magnesium, which may lead to better bone health.
As a supplement, inulin is available in powder form, and sometimes as tablets or capsules.