Side effects of inulin typically involve the digestive system. Some people may experience stomach pain and gas if they consume too much inulin. Other common side effects include feelings of nausea and diarrhea. Usually, side effects occur if people unknowingly eat foods with added inulin or take inulin supplements. It is possible for inulin to cause an allergic reaction in some people.
Inulin is a type of carbohydrate. It is naturally found in many vegetables and fruits, such as onions and bananas. The carbohydrate is considered a type of soluble fiber, as it is not absorbed by the digestive system. Instead, it promotes the growth of healthy bacteria in the intestine. As it is not bacteria itself but has an impact on the number of bacteria in the body, it is considered a prebiotic.
Side effects of inulin usually occur only when a person consumes too much of the fiber in the course of a day. Tests and studies have demonstrated that people showed gastrointestinal sides effects of inulin when they consumed more than 10 grams of it in a day. Typical side effects reported with inulin use included cramps in the stomach, stomach rumbling, and diarrhea. Some people reported feelings of bloating as well as gas and flatulence.
Many food manufacturers add inulin to foods such as cereal or yogurt to increase the fiber content without making the food taste bitter. Inulin typically has a sweet taste, so adding it to food not only boosts fiber, it also can improve the food's flavor. As more and more manufacturers add the fiber to foods, the risk of side effects of inulin grows, as people may consume more than intended without realizing it.
Inulin is also available as as supplement or an injection and is designed to help ease constipation or reduce triglyceride levels, as it prevents the body from absorbing triglycerides. Some people believe it can help lower cholesterol or help patients lose weight. When used as directed as a supplement, the side effects of inulin are typically low or nonexistent.
Some people may be allergic to inulin. Signs of an allergic reaction vary, depending on the severity of the allergy. Common allergy reactions include coughing or having trouble breathing after eating a food that contains the fiber, even vegetables that contain inulin naturally. As the fiber is added to more and more foods, the appearance of allergic reactions may increase.