People looking for a dietary supplement to help with digestive complaints will likely find a large array of products intended to treat everything from heartburn to gas and bloating. One supplement recommended for digestive support is inulin prebiotic. When trying to narrow down your inulin prebiotic options, first consider supplement potency, or strength, which needs to be compared to ensure the product you choose has enough inulin to help. Second, company reputation is an important factor in choosing an inulin prebiotic.
Inulin is a dietary fiber known as a fructan; it is made up of long and short chains of oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. Basically, it is a long chain of fructose, or sugar, molecules. Inulin can be derived from a variety of fruits and vegetables, including chicory, artichoke, asparagus, wheat, onions and bananas. The primary source of inulin found in dietary supplements is chicory root, which contains a high amount of inulin and is the best source when taking cost and ease of production into account.
Inulin prebiotic fiber passes through the stomach and large intestine undigested. In the large intestine, inulin fiber is fermented by the bacteria present in the large intestine. Inulin is essentially food for the beneficial gut bacteria, or probiotic bacteria — thus the name, prebiotic. Inulin stimulates bacterial growth in the digestive system, which has been linked to many beneficial digestive health effects. Inulin prebiotic fiber is not digested in the small intestine, so it has a reduced caloric value.
When comparing potency of inulin prebiotic supplements, high potency is desired. Most studies have found that between 5 grams and 10 grams is an effective dose for digestive support. To obtain that much inulin, a few capsules have to be taken at once. For people who have a difficult time swallowing capsules, inulin also can be purchased in powder form. Powdered inulin dissolves in water and can be easily mixed with liquids.
Company reputation should also be determined when choosing a supplement. Look for a dietary supplement manufacturer that follows good manufacturing practice regulations (cGMP) as stated on the bottle. If the company is well-established and has a good reputation as a reliable and responsible dietary supplement manufacturer, you are more likely to be getting a high-quality inulin prebiotic.
Inulin prebiotic supplements often contain fructooligosaccharide (FOS), which is a component of inulin. FOS itself has been well-studied for its digestive support. Some products only list FOS as the prebiotic ingredient, but FOS comes from inulin and works similarly in the body. This should also be considered when choosing an inulin supplement.