What is Chicory Root Fiber?
Chicory root fiber, also known as inulin, is extracted from the chicory plant. It is a type of water-soluble fiber that is not digested or absorbed by the human body. It possesses water-retaining properties and can dissolve in water, forming a viscous gel-like substance. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies it as a generally recognized as safe (GRAS) food ingredient, with no specified limits on its use in food, indicating a high level of safety.
Chicory root fiber, being indigestible, serves as a substrate for the growth of beneficial bacteria in the intestines. It is commonly used for conditions such as hyperlipidemia, including high cholesterol and high triglycerides. Additionally, it is utilized for weight management, addressing issues like constipation, diarrhea, and diabetes .
Nutritional Composition of Chicory Root Fiber
Chicory root fiber extracted from natural plants contains both long and short chains with a degree of polymerization ranging from 2 to 60. The short-chain chicory root fiber, with an average degree of polymerization ≤ 9, is known as short-chain inulin. In the manufacturing process, the chicory root fiber with a degree of polymerization below 10 is removed, leaving behind a product known as high-performance inulin. Due to the β (2,1) linkages, chicory root fiber is not digested by enzymes in the human digestive system   .
Recommended Evidence-Based Benefits of Chicory Root Fiber
Improving Digestive System Health and Alleviating Constipation
Chicory root fiber can aid in the growth of beneficial bacteria, increasing their quantity and contributing to the improvement of digestion, immunity, and overall health      . An analysis found that individuals using chicory root fiber experienced improved bowel movements and stool consistency .
💡 In another 4-week study, elderly individuals consuming 15 grams of chicory root fiber daily showed improvements in constipation and digestion .
Promoting Weight Loss
Chicory root fiber and oligofructose may help regulate appetite, leading to weight reduction. An analysis revealed that chicory root fiber can assist in weight loss. In a 12-week study, overweight and obese adults consuming 21 grams of chicory root fiber daily experienced a decrease in hunger hormone levels and an increase in satiety hormone levels. On average, those using chicory root fiber lost over 0.9 kilograms, while the control group gained around 0.45 kilograms .
💡 In a weight loss study, individuals with prediabetes using chicory root fiber or other fibers for 18 weeks experienced a 7.6% reduction in body weight, compared to a 4.9% reduction in the other fiber group .
A study found that chicory root fiber reduced liver fat in prediabetic patients .
💡 In a study involving type 2 diabetes patients, daily intake of 10 grams of chicory root fiber led to an average 8.5% decrease in fasting blood glucose and a 10.5% decrease in hemoglobin A1c . In another randomized triple-blind controlled trial, 49 women with type 2 diabetes received 10 grams of chicory root fiber or maltodextrin daily, demonstrating improved blood sugar and antioxidant indicators with chicory root fiber supplementation .
Improving Mineral Absorption and Bone Health
Prebiotics, such as oligosaccharides and chicory root fiber, although not easily digestible, have been shown to improve various chronic inflammatory conditions. More evidence suggests that prebiotics, including chicory root fiber, have benefits for calcium metabolism and bone health. Chicory root fiber can enhance the absorption of calcium and magnesium, improving bone mineralization in children.
Preventing Colon Cancer
Research suggests that chicory root fiber can reduce intestinal inflammation and decrease the growth of precancerous cells, lowering the risk of colon cancer.
An animal study found a 88% reduction in precancerous cells in the chicory root fiber group . In another study, rats fed with chicory root fiber showed fewer precancerous cell changes and less inflammation compared to the control group .
💡 A human study found that chicory root fiber can create an environment in the colon that is unfavorable for cancer development, offering hope for colon and rectal cancer prevention .
Are There Any Side Effects of Chicory Root Fiber?
- For Adults and Children: When taken orally in appropriate amounts, chicory root fiber is considered safe. However, excessive intake can commonly lead to gastrointestinal symptoms such as bloating, abdominal discomfort, and diarrhea  .
- Chicory Root Fiber Allergy: Avoid use if allergic reactions occur .
- Pregnancy and Lactation: While consuming chicory root fiber is generally safe, limited knowledge exists. It is advisable to avoid excessive use for safety reasons.