Inulin is composed of fructose molecules and polysaccharides. Fructose polymer is a polysaccharide made of fructose, which is produced by many plants. Polysaccharides are carbohydrates, also known as multiple sugars or polysaccharides. The name inulin is associated with the discovery of the substance in 1804. The first plant in which inulin was discovered is called elecampane, which is translated into Latin as Inula helénium. Inulin has water-soluble properties and serves as an energy store in many plants. The substance is found in particularly large quantities in garlic, bananas, onions, cereals and chicory, among others. Today, inulin plays an important role in food production. In yogurt, for example, it serves as a fat substitute. In fructose production, it also serves as a basic ingredient. In sausage products, inulin increases the fiber content. Since the human body lacks the enzyme inulinase, inulin cannot be digested in the small intestine. Therefore, for humans, inulin is a dietary fiber that can cause intestinal problems in larger amounts. However, certain intestinal bacteria, which include lactic acid bacteria in particular, can break down inulin. Used as a prebiotic, however, inulin has a health-promoting effect on the intestine, as it is considered a food source for intestinal bacteria. This has the effect that lactic acid bacteria produce lactic acid. This in turn leads to an acidification of the intestinal environment. Introduced, pathogenic bacteria thus have little chance of entering the intestine. The intestinal flora is therefore less susceptible to infections.
Those foods in which inulin occurs are not too often distorted by humans. As a dietary supplement in the form of capsules or tablets, the use of inulin is useful. Among other things, it ensures that minerals such as magnesium and calcium are better absorbed and stored by the body. Magnesium and calcium promote bone health. Inulin plays a decisive role in this. The dietary fiber inulin has a particularly positive effect on the intestinal flora by fighting against undesirable intestinal bacteria and ensuring the settlement of good intestinal bacteria such as lactobacteria. Taken as a dietary supplement in the form of capsules or tablets, inulin maintains and regenerates the intestinal mucosa. A healthy intestinal flora has a great influence on the overall well-being of a person. For the intestinal flora, inulin is a preferred food source. Bacteria convert it in the rectum to short-chain fatty acids, which regenerate the intestinal mucosa. People with a healthy intestinal mucosa can absorb minerals much better. Studies have shown that inulin reduces the risk of colon cancer and also prevents osteoporosis. Women in particular are at risk of developing osteoporosis. After menopause, their bone substance usually degrades considerably. In the long term, inulin increases the absorption of minerals that are very important for bones. However, inulin alone is not sufficient for the prevention of osteoporosis. Man should in parallel ensure adequate mineral intake. For example, a diet rich in sesame and poppy seeds would be useful to absorb sufficient calcium. Magnesium is richly contained in nuts, pumpkin seeds and amaranth. Inulin as a dietary supplement is therefore ideal for building healthy and strong bones. The Society of German Chemists recommends a daily intake of up to 5 grams of inulin as a dietary supplement for adults. Since inulin is a fructose polymer, it is not recommended for people with fructose intolerance.