What is Chicory Root Fibre (inulin) ?
Chicory root fibre comes from the chicory vegetable (Cichorium intybus) and is enjoyed across the World as a root vegetable and often as a caffeine-free coffee substitute. It should not be confused with the Belgian endive or radicchio, these types of salad chicory are from the same family but are quite different.
It also grows across the world – throughout North America, China and Europe. The chicory root fibre used in Troo products is sourced from high quality chicory grown not too far away in Northern Europe. We choose this particular source as the producer is a family run business like our own with sustainability at the heart of everything it does – and importantly we know the chicory fibre has undergone rigorous testing to ensure it meets the highest quality standards.
Chicory Root fibre / Chicory Root Extract is also sometimes called ‘inulin’ – although chicory is not the only source of this prebiotic fibre. It goes by a number of different names including chicory inulin, chicory fibre, inulin fibre; all names for the same thing!
Inulin is a soluble dietary fibre found in more than 36,000 fruits and plants such as green bananas, onions, garlic and artichoke. However, the highest concentration of inulin at 16% can be found in chicory root, hence why this is our chosen source.
Inulin is extracted from the roots; it sometimes listed as polysaccharides or fructooligosaccharides (FOS) – these are the scientific names for the type of sugar chains created in the processing.
Whilst technically it is a type of sugar and it does add sweetness, it’s really different to normal sugar as it isn’t easily digested and so it has little to no impact on your blood sugar levels. This has been scientifically proven and approved by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).
Why is Chicory Root Fibre Good For Gut Health?
When eaten the chicory root fibre or chicory root inulin moves through the gut to your large intestine pretty much intact and works as a prebiotic feeding the good gut bacteria (probiotics).
You might have heard of probiotics and how important they are – well without prebiotics like chicory root fibre the friendly gut bacteria won’t flourish.
Oats are another fantastic prebiotic – gluten free oats work in harmony with the chicory root fibre in Troo cereals to supercharge your gut flora.
Medicinal use of chicory root dates back to Ancient Egyptians, it has been used to treat everything from pulmonary disease or tuberculosis, to cancer, cough, or wounds. Over the past few years there have been lots of new scientific studies to prove the health benefits of chicory root fibre (inulin) and many continue.
A White Paper by the Beneo Institute is particularly interesting. It is relatively easy to read (aside from a few complicated sections); covering lots of useful context for example describing exactly what a prebiotic is and how the extract is produced from the chicory root. It then goes on to cover the potential health benefits and the scientific support for areas including:
- Growth of gut flora and improvements in gut health
- Improvements in digestion (including some discussion of the FODMAP principles)
- Impact of chicory fibre on Body Weight
- Bringing Blood Sugar under control
- Calcium absorption and osteoporosis
- Gut health and children
The European Food Safety Authority have approved the following claims to be included on food products containing inulin:
- Chicory Inulin CAN HELP MANAGE BLOOD GLUCOSE LEVELS when used to replace sugar
- Chicory Inulin CONTRIBUTES TO NORMAL BOWEL FUNCTION BY INCREASING STOOL FREQUENCY i.e. it is scientifically proven to help with constipation (for all ages)
- Chicory Inulin CAN HELP MAINTAIN A HEALTHY GUT
Troo and Chicory Root Fibre
Chicory Root Fibre is a key ingredient in Troo Granola+ Troo Porridge+ and of course in Troo Spoonful of Fibre – PURE INULIN SYRUP.
When we bake our Troo Granola+, we mix it with Inulin syrup – this is what makes it all bind together but it also boosts the fibre content in each bowl, with 6g of prebiotic fibre per portion. This is higher than any other commercially available granola in fact is is 3x as much as our closest competitor.
This is important as you need to eat 12g of inulin per day to get the gut health benefits. Basically that is 2 standard size portions of Troo which we think is reasonable. To get 12g of inulin from a competitors granola you need to eat the WHOLE box. How ridiculous is that?!
In our Troo Porridge+, we use a powder form of Inulin. We also have our own range of pure inulin syrup for you to try. Our Troo Spoonful of Fibre syrup is available in two flavours – Pure, which tastes like a really mild honey or golden syrup, and Chocolate which is just inulin syrup with the addition of polyphenol-rich cocoa powder. Spoon it, spread it or stir it into food and drink for a quick fibre boost!
How Do I Find Out More About Chicory Root Fibre (Inulin)?
We always recommend talking to a health professional about your nutrition, they are experts in their field. You could google ‘inulin’ and you will see lots of claims and benefits; but we do advise you to take care to make sure they are based on ‘proper’ scientific research.
Inulin has also featured on the BBC. Angela Rippon’s ‘How to Stay Young‘ programme shows how it can help reduce visceral fat levels whilst Dr Michael Mosley’s ‘The Truth About Sleep‘ discusses how fibre before bedtime can make you sleep deeper and for longer.