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Inulin sources, health risks

Tuesday, October 03, 2017 by

Inulin is a type of polysaccharide that is commonly found in various plant foods such as onions,  garlic, leeks and Jerusalem artichokes. An entry published on the Wise Geek website noted that inulin is a soluble fiber that contains less food energy compared with carbohydrates and fats. The compound also comes in many other names such as neosugar, alant starch, Alantin and diabetic sugar.

Inulin is usually added to a lot of processed food items due to its beneficial effects on the body’s overall health, especially among patients with diabetes. However, inulin is also found to induce unwanted side effects when taken in large quantities.

Harmful effects that can be caused by inulin

Inulin’s unwanted side effects primarily target the digestive tract, a Love To Know article reveals. According to the article, the most common side effect of inulin intake is intestinal discomfort. This is due to the metabolic gases released when gut bacteria metabolize carbohydrates.

The side effects caused by bacterial metabolism may manifest as various conditions such as flatulence or excessive gas, bloating, and stomach noises. Other conditions associated with the inulin-induced bacterial metabolism include cramping and belching.

An expert also notes that while a majority of patients do not experience adverse events at really high inulin doses, about four percent report alarming side effects at relatively low inulin doses. These effects may be caused by varying individual morphology, biochemistry, or the existing populations of microflora in the intestines, the expert says.

Inulin is categorized as a dietary fiber, which means that it facilitates the transport of water into the intestines. This then raises the risk of suffering from diarrhea. The compound is known to possess a relatively small particle size compared with other types of dietary fiber such as wheat bran or oat bran. Due to its small size, inulin overstimulates water transport, thus resulting in diarrhea.

Moreover, taking inulin to improve the population of good bacteria in the digestive systems may actually backfire. Experts argue that feeding existing beneficial gut bacteria with inulin does not guarantee that harmful bacteria will not take advantage of it.

According to experts, taking inulin may feed certain yeasts found in the intestine. It can also provide a stable food source for harmful bacteria such as klebsiella, which causes intestinal permeability or leaky gut.

Taking inulin may also result in adverse allergic reactions. The compound has long been used to evaluate kidney filtration rate in people with certain kidney diseases. However, a case reported in 2007 shows that a young boy undergoing the test suffered severe allergic reaction and kidney disease relapse.

In another Wise Geek article, inulin is also found to induce allergic reactions that affect the respiratory tract. According to the article, common allergic reactions include coughing and difficulty in breathing after eating foods that contain inulin. The article also stresses that allergic reactions may increase with an increase in inulin levels.

Body systems harmed by inulin

Inulin is known to induce negative effects on the digestive tract. Likewise, the compound is found to potentially affect kidney health. Inulin may also affect the respiratory tract.

Where to learn more


Inulin causes various digestive disorders such as flatulence, bloating, and stomach cramps.

Inulin also results in the onset of diarrhea and leaky gut disorder.

Inulin may exacerbate kidney disease and induce severe allergic reactions.

Inulin may lead to respiratory issues such as coughing and breathing difficulties.

Inulin primarily affects intestinal health and is detrimental to the digestive system.

Inulin also negatively impacts both the urinary system and the respiratory tract.

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