|Inulin is a polysaccharide that belongs to a group of naturally-occurring carbohydrates containing non-digestible fructooligosaccharides (FOS). Inulin is a group of polymers made from a single glucose molecule and several fructose molecules. Inulin is formed of 30 fructose units joined together. Inulins are mainly comprised of fructose units and typically have a terminal
glucose. The fructose units in inulins are joined by a beta-(2-1) glycosidic link. Plant inulins generally contain between 2 to 140 fructose units. Inulins refer to a group of naturally occurring fructose-containing oligosaccharides. They belong to a class of carbohydrates known as fructans. Inulin is not chemically related to insulin; the similarities in name do not relate to any similarity in form or function. Inulin can be transformed into various important food ingredients by hydrolysis and other types of processing.
Inulin is indigestible by human enzymes ptyalin and amylase, which are designed to digest starch. As a result, inulin passes through much of the digestive system intact. Inulin is a highly effective prebiotic, stimulating the growth of beneficial probiotic bacteria in the gut. Inulin is used in low fat products because of its ability to give a creamy smooth texture to products. Inulin is a dietary fibre and is believed to activate beneficial good bacteria in the digestive tract. The activation of these bacteria is thought to reduce the risk of bowel cancer. Inulin has a mildly sweet taste, but does not affect blood sugar levels and is recommended for diabetics. Inulin has been clinically proven to increase calcium absorption. The inherent calcium in dairy foods is now an even better source of this bone-building mineral when inulin is added because inulin improves the body's uptake. Inulin is also used for diagnosis of kidney functions. People have used plants containing inulin to help relieve diabetes mellitus, a condition characterised by hyperglycemia and/or hyperinsulinemia. Inulin is injected into the bloodstream and, after an appropriate time delay, its concentration is checked for in the urine and bloodstream.
Inulin is found naturally in more than 36,000 types of plants worldwide, including dahlias, asparagus, bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, salsify, wheat, chicory, onions, and garlic. It is estimated that approximately one-third of the earth's vegetation contains this substance. Inulin is a naturally occurring fructo-oligosaccharide composed of a mixture of oligomers of varying degrees of polymerization ("DP") or molecular weights that occurs naturally plants such as onion, garlic, Jerusalem artichoke, dahlia and chicory for plant energy storage. The inulin produced from different plants, at different stages in the growing cycle of a plant, or under different climatic conditions, will normally have different average degrees of polymerization.