St. Mark's Hospital - March 06, 2019

If you’ve studied up on gut health, you’ve probably come across the word “inulin.” It’s a type of prebiotic fiber found in many fruits, vegetables and grains that beneficial gut bacteria need to thrive.

Unlike probiotics, which are friendly bacteria found in fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut, prebiotics are not living organisms. Instead, prebiotic fibers feed the good bacteria in the gut so they get stron­ger and outnumber bad bacteria. By helping good bacteria flourish, inulin may contrib­ute to weight loss and improve blood sugar control. More research is needed, but some studies suggest inulin can aid in calcium absorption and protect against colon cancer. Like other dietary fibers, inulin also helps you stay regular.

Inulin does come in supplement form, but why pay for a pill when it occurs naturally in so many yummy foods? Inulin-rich foods include asparagus, gar­lic, onions, leeks, bananas and dandelion greens. Check nutrition labels of your favorite protein bars and yogurt cups; you may spot inulin there, too.