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Inulin is an ingredient commonly found in weight loss supplements and other over the counter products meant for various types of remedy. While this diet pill ingredient may very well be listed under that name, it may also be found in formulations under any of several other names, as well.

Some of the other names that are used on ingredients lists to indicate that inulin is present within a formulation can include: chicory inulin, chicory extract, beta(2-1)fructans, inuline, oligosaccharides, long-chain oligosaccharides, inulina, extrait de dahlia, inuline de dahlia and many more.

Inulin is a type of starchy substance that can be found in a spectrum of different herbs, vegetables and fruits. Among the most common sources include bananas, onions, wheat, leeks, asparagus and artichokes. That said, chicory roots are the most common source of inulin for medicinal uses. To extract the inulin from the chicory root, the plant part is soaked in hot water.

Among the medicinal uses of inulin are weight loss, constipation, high cholesterol and high triglycerides. This may also be used as a food additive to improve the flavor of what is eaten.

The idea behind the use of inulin is that it is neither digested nor absorbed through the stomach. Instead, it heads through the intestines where bacteria consumes it. It is especially helpful to a certain kind of “good” bacteria that is known to be helpful in healthy bowel function as well as good overall health. Inulin can also help the body to be able to produce certain types of fat.

According to research, taking inulin may help to reduce triglyceride levels in the blood when they are high. Studies have indicated that eight weeks of treatment can lower blood trygliceride levels by as much as 19 percent. Research has also suggested that inulin can be effective when used by elderly people to overcome constipation, achieving a daily bowel movement after having previously gone only once or twice per week.

That said, the current scientific body of evidence has suggested that inulin is possibly ineffective when taken for weight loss either on its own or in combination with any or all of the following ingredients: L-phenylalanine, chromium picolinate and other nutrients. So far, studies have not recorded significant weight reduction among moderately obese people who have taken this substance in the hopes of reducing body fat levels.

When used appropriately, inulin is typically considered to be safe. Stomach problems are the most common type of side effect.

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