Inulin – Prebiotic Fiber with Powerful Allergic Reactions

Health Food products are containing Stealth Fiber that is labeled as a “Natural Fiber”, “Natural Sweetener”, and/or a “Natural Prebiotic”. This “Stealth fiber” is being increasingly added to processed foods, while not a problem for most; it can cause gastrointestinal discomfort for some who may not know they’re consuming too much of it. The fiber is called “Inulin.” Food companies hit the trifecta with inulin. They can market inulin in three different ways but only one ingredient.

Inulin is commonly found in:[i]

  • Wheat
  • Onions
  • Asparagus
  • Bananas
  • Plantains
  • Garlic
  • Artichokes
  • Leeks.

Do you have problems when eating these common foods? If you do you may have an Inulin Sensitivity.

The average daily dietary consumption of inulin-type fructans has been estimated to be between 3 and 11 grams for Europeans[ii] and between 1 and 4 grams in the United States.[iii]

Food manufacturers, faced with demands to reduce calories. sugar, fat, and sodium while increasing fiber and flavor, are increasingly turning to products like inulin. They have discovered they can chemically manipulate the chemical structure of inulin to mimic tastes and textures consumers want in food. Their use is likely to continue to grow and “there is the potential for overuse.”

All ingredients present in whole foods work harmoniously with each other. The opposite occurs when refining a single ingredient out of an herb and calling it “medicine” often results in a deadly poison, so too does refining a single ingredient out of whole food often turns that ingredient into a toxic substance. Do not be seduced by those only looking at the so-called benefits of Inulin. It has a very real dark side.

Inulin can be found in high fiber breakfast bars, yogurt, ice creams, and beverages among other processed foods. The label may list inulin, chicory root extract, oligosaccharide, or oligofructose. For example, the Fiber One Chewy Bar with 9 grams of dietary fiber lists chicory root extract as its top ingredient.

Inulin caused wheal and flair.

Because of its expanding use in processed foods, allergic reactions to this dietary ingredient may occur more frequently than currently recognized.[iv] The identification of an association with allergic reactions to natural foods labeled as containing a “Natural Fiber”, “Natural Sweetener”, “Natural Prebiotic” with inulin being this ingredient should be considered with reoccurring health problems.

Inulin is increasingly used in processed foods because it has unusually adaptable characteristics. Its flavor ranges from bland to subtly sweet. It is being used to replace sugar, fat, and flour. Due to the body’s limited ability to process fructans, inulin has minimal increasing impact on blood sugar. It is used in Diabetic friendly food with claims that inulin is helpful in managing blood sugar-related illnesses. This is advantageous because inulin contains 25-35% of the food energy of carbohydrates (starch, sugar) and is touted as being “high fiber”, “naturally sweet”, and “low glycemic”.

Because products are being labels as containing “All Natural Fiber, All Natural Sweetener or an All Natural Prebiotic” people are consuming high quantities of Inulin. In addition to ingesting inulin in the form of a whole food; by eating chicory root, Jerusalem artichokes or other foods naturally high in this substance such as bananas, plantains, onions, Jerusalem artichokes, asparagus, leeks, and garlic.

In terms of nutrition, it is considered a form of soluble fiber and is sometimes categorized as a prebiotic. Conversely, it is also considered a FODMAP, a class of carbohydrates, which are problematic for some individuals through causing overgrowth of intestinal methanogenic bacteria.

Symptoms Associated with Inulin Consumption

The consumption of inulin (in particular, by sensitive or unaccustomed individuals) can lead to gas, flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain, excess gastrointestinal rumbling, and diarrhea and products that contain inulin will sometimes include a warning to add it gradually to one’s diet. Generalized wheal-and-flare reaction, laryngeal edema, nasal itching, cough, and breathing difficulties. Severe Th2 responses (anaphylactic-like) can occur after eating types of health foods containing inulin.[v]

For this reason, a food is considered unacceptable if it causes one of the following symptoms:

  • Generalized wheal-and-flare reaction
  • Laryngeal edema
  • Nasal itching
  • Cough
  • Breathing difficulties.
  • Too much flatulence
  • Too much intestinal pressure
  • Too much pain
  • Too much intestinal noise
  • Too many intestinal cramps or diarrhea, as observed and evaluated by the person themselves.
Wheal and flair cause by Inulin.

At high doses, increased flatulence and osmotic pressure can cause intestinal discomfort. These doses vary widely from person to person and also depend on the type of food in which inulin or oligofructose is incorporated.[vi] With regard to labeling, both inulin and oligofructose are gradually being accepted as “dietary fibers” in most countries around the world. The mention of their “bifidogenic effect” on food labels has also been legally accepted in several countries.

These symptoms are difficult to measure objectively. Moreover, the same amount of flatulence can be acceptable to one person while being too much for another person, i.e. Women won’t admit to it. Guys think it’s a badge of honor.

Based on inulin’s ability to cause digestive distress in some, I would recommend avoiding inulin (in its food sources and as an ingredient) if you suffer from gastrointestinal issues — celiac disease, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), candida (no sugar), SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth).

It has been speculated that people fall into one of three categories regarding sensitivity to inulin:

1) Nonsensitive persons can consume 30 g/d (grams per day) or more of the compound with little or no symptoms as described;

2) Sensitive persons can consume 10 g/d of the compound without discomfort but might experience undesirable reactions with doses of 20 g/d;

3) Very sensitive persons can experience symptoms of intolerance at doses as small as of 10 g/d.

Only the person who eats inulin containing foods can judge the intestinal acceptability of a food. Diarrhea is certainly a symptom of nonacceptability, but soft stools may be an acceptable or even desired phenomenon.[vii]

Lactose Intolerance

Enzymes in the small intestine break down lactose. In cases of true lactose maldigestion, lactose passes to the large intestine without breaking down and is fermented there by the bacterial flora. In lactose-intolerant subjects this causes gastrointestinal symptoms such as flatulence, bloating, abdominal pain, excess gastrointestinal rumbling, and diarrhea. Many lactose-intolerant subjects claim that they cannot tolerate any lactose at all in everyday life.[viii]

Symptoms of inulin intolerance usually include flatulence, bloating, cramps, abdominal pain, diarrhea and rarely, constipation. Although inulin is increasingly used as a food ingredient because of its potential health benefits,[ix] i.e. dietary fiber, prebiotic, natural sweetener, & diabetic-friendly. A double-blind placebo- controlled food challenge has shown an increase of sensitivity with inulin.[x]

The increased use of inulin, as a food ingredient has led to a greater incidence of hypersensitivity but any gastrointestinal distress would be attributed to being lactose intolerant because of the increased addition of inulin into dairy products.

[i] van Loo J, Coussement P, de Leenheer L,Hoebregs H, Smits G. On the presence of inulin and oligofructose as natural ingredients in the western diet. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1995;35:525-52.

[ii] van Loo J, Coussement P, de Leenheer L,Hoebregs H, Smits G. On the presence of inulin and oligofructose as natural ingredients in the western diet. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 1995;35:525-52.

[iii] Moshfegh AJ, Friday JE, Goldman JP, Ahuja JK. Presence of inulin and oligofructose in the diets of Americans. J Nutr 1999;129(7 Suppl):1407S-11S.

[iv] F. Gay-Crossier, G. Schreiber, C. Hauser. Anaphylaxis from Inulin in Vegetables and Processed Food. N Engl J Med 2000; 342:1372May 4, 2000

[v] Franck P, Moneret-Vautrin D, A, Morisset M, Kanny G, Mégret-Gabeaux M, L, Olivier J, L, Anaphylactic Reaction to Inulin: First Identification of Specific IgEs to an Inulin Protein Compound. Int Arch Allergy Immunol 2005;136:155-158

[vi] Paul A. A. Coussement. Inulin and Oligofructose: Safe Intakes and Legal Status. J. Nutr. 129: 1412S–1417S, 1999.

[vii] Briet, F., Achour, L., Flourié, B., Beaugerie, L., Pellier, P., Franchisseur, C., Bornet, F. & Rambaud, J.-C. (1995) Symptomatic response to varying levels of fructo-oligosaccharides consumed occasionally or regularly. Eur. J. Clin. Nutr.49:501-507.

[viii] U Teuri, H Vapaatalo, R Korpela. Fructooligosaccharides and lactulose cause more symptoms in lactose maldigesters and subjects with pseudohypolactasia than in control lactose digesters. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:973–9.

[ix] Roberfroid MB, Van Loo JA, Gibson GR: The bifidogenic nature of chicory inulin and its hydrolysis products. J Nutr 128:11-19, 1998

[x] Chandra R, Barron JL: Anaphylactic reaction to intravenous sinistrin (Inutest). Ann Clin Biochem 39:76, 2002

Probiotics Maintain Autoimmunity

The Probiotic Paradoxis that both live and dead bacteria in probiotic products can generate biological responses. The use of probiotics in an unhealthy gut can result in immune dysregulation, bacterial translocation into the lymph and blood and increased inflammation. The Probiotic Paradoxis that the action of probiotics are dependent upon the health of the gastrointestinal tract, immune status and how established a disease process is.

According to a report, laboratory testing of 12 refrigerated and 8 non-refrigerated, randomly selected probiotic supplements obtained from different health food stores revealed that only one product contained the same bacteria as those listed on the label. Many of the refrigerated products had some beneficial bacteria, but contained fewer species of organisms than the label claimed. More than 30% of all supplements were contaminated with other microorganisms and 50% of the non-refrigerated products were completely dead.

The Probiotic Paradox

For a probiotic to work it must arrive alive. Probiotics are all about maintaining a healthy gut as you age, but if your gut is already unhealthy, then it will be harder for them to work. Probiotics promote gut health through stimulation, rather than suppression, of the innate immune system. The Probiotic Paradox is that both live and dead bacteria in probiotic products can generate biological responses. Dead probiotics only stimulate a TH1 response, which is also responsible for autoimmunity. Do not increase the TH1 immune response if you have or think you have an autoimmune condition. Probiotics will provoke the more severe autoimmune TH17 response. Probiotics are thought to work though, so if you are interested in using probiotics then you could check out these Probiotics and zinc supplementation as recommended by Fitnessgoals here.

Probiotic Survival

For a probiotic to work it must arrive alive. Probiotics promote gut health through stimulation, rather than suppression, of the innate immune system. Our first lines of defense are digestive chemistry and innate immunity.

Stomach acid and bile sterilize anything entering the gastrointestinal tract, if the stomach and gallbladder are healthy enough to do so. An unhealthy stomach and gallbladder may not be able to produce the quantity and quality of acid and bile needed to do the job. This is a duel edge sword. In a healthy gut, unprotected live probiotics will be killed. In an unhealthy gut, the live probiotics will survive but will change their behavior to better survive in an unhealthy gut environment and become pathogenic.

To increase survival probiotics not only should be refrigerated but acid proofed. Many companies do not use acid proofing. Others in an attempt to acid proof use calcium carbonate, an antacid. This neutralizes the sterilization effect of stomach acid and stimulation of the release of bile and pancreatic juices. Other companies use sodium alginate as an acid proofer for probiotics. Sodium alginate is used as a form of bubble wrapping the microbes in which the sodium alginate serves two purposes: One is it’s a good acid proofer, and after the pancreatic juices are released. The pancreatic juice dissolves the sodium alginate, and then becomes food for the microbes.

Acid and Bile Proofed Probiotics

For a probiotic to work it must arrive alive in the colon. Probiotics defined as “live micro organisms” which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host” are common core materials that are often encapsulated in alginate gel. It has been recommended that food containing probiotic bacteria should contain at least 106 live micro organisms per g or mL at the time of consumption to have protective effects such as maintenance of normal intestinal micro flora, enhancement of the immune system, reduction of lactose intolerance and anti-cancer activity.

Along with that probiotics should resist the natural barrier of high acidity and bile content in the gastrointestinal tract (GIT) and show their survivability and activity in the colon. Since some Lactobacillus lack the ability to adequately survive gastrointestinal tract conditions micro-encapsulation techniques have been applied to improve acid, bile and heat tolerance of probiotics and to inhibit unwanted reactions during storage and processing which can result in loss of survival and activity. Many probiotic brands report only the storage shelf life with no mention of gastric or intestinal survivability.

Most Probiotic companies print the strength (In Colony Forming Units, or, CFU) available at the time of manufacture, not at the time of expiration. This means they can be dead by the time they reach the store and they lived up to their guarantee. Probiotics are living organisms, and are perishable. They must be refrigerated if stored over 2 weeks. More important than sheer numbers is DELIVERY. Probiotics MUST have an acid proof delivery system to get the probiotics to the intestinal tract where they are needed.

Many probiotics are soil based. Soil based organisms are not naturally found in our bodies and aren’t as compatible. Human origin probiotics are. Another negative with soil based probiotics is that it’s hard to remove impurities and unwanted bacteria from soil based organisms. This can be a health issue for persons with impaired barrier variables (AKA “Leaky Gut”) since nonnative organisms can go systemic.

Probiotic supplements such as Theralac protect the contents of the capsule to ensure delivery of the contents into the intestines which is where they need to be. Only there can they be truly effective.

Probiotics needs protection from the gastrointestinal chemistry, and a growth stimulating food.

The gut environment is controlled by digestive chemistry. The digestive chemistry must occur in a specific sequence and order to maintain the gut environment. Border integrity must be maintained. Even probiotics should be contained within the gut and not allowed into the blood or other body parts.

No microbe can occupy a niche already occupied by another microbe, similar to Darwin’s finches on the Galapagos Islands. The fifteen finch species each developed feeding and structural changes to support their survival as a species. Microbes develop different attributes to support their survival.

Microbiome balances are naturally controlled through competitive exclusion. The use of probiotic supplements can create a situation similar to that being experienced in Australia in the gut. Cane toads were introduced Australia in 1935 to control the native cane beetle. Without any natural predators, the introduction of the toads has cause the depletion of native species. The toads find the Australian environment to be ideal for their survival. The environment can also limit invasive species such as boa constrictors in Florida. Cold weather limits their ability to move into northern Florida.

Gastrointestinal control of Predominant, Facultative, Obligate, Opportunistic, Yeast Mold, Parasites occurs through:

Stomach Acid: First line of defense from microbes

  • Stomach acid kills alkaline loving microbes
  • Chemical destruction through acidic pH
  • Barrier system

Pancreas juices and bile: Second line of defense from

  • Pancreas juices and Bile kills acid loving bacteria
  • Chemical destruction through alkaline pH
  • Barrier system

Probiotic Growth Stimulants

Probiotic Sources of Iron

Iron is highly controlled in the body because free iron produces massive amounts of free radicals. Iron is also an aphrodisiac for bacteria. If bacteria are to survive, they must get iron from their environment. Bacteria will actively seek out iron in red blood cells. Disease-causing bacteria do this in many ways, including releasing iron-binding molecules called siderophores and then reabsorbing them to recover iron, or scavenging iron from red blood cells, hemoglobin and transferrin.

To counteract this, the liver produces hepcidin (an immune system body guard for iron) in response to inflammatory cytokines and bacteria. Hepcidin levels can increase as the result of non-bacterial sources of inflammation, like viral infection, cancer, autoimmune diseases or other chronic diseases causing low iron levels. The sequestration of iron is a major defense mechanism against bacteria. Many mistake low iron levels as a need for iron rather than the body’s attempt to control microbial overgrowth.

  • Probiotics iron which provides a readily available iron source for all bacterial.
  • Lactoferrin binds iron and makes it difficult for iron dependent, gram negative bacteria (like Salmonella and E. coli) to grow. This gives gram positive, probiotic bacteria (which require less iron) a competitive advantage.

There are numerous bacteria species that have an affinity for iron. They will actively seek out and destroy blood cells causing anemia of chronic inflammation. Using iron as a probiotic growth stimulant will fuel bad bacteria overgrowth.


Currently the prebiotic FOS is under fire for not being selective enough for probiotics since it stimulates non-probiotic bacteria such as Enterococcus species. This concern aside, a number of probiotic manufacturers still include FOS in their products. Virtually all of the data on FOS as a prebiotic shows a requirement of 4-8 grams per day. So picture this: If probiotic brand X contains 100 mg of FOS per capsule (a typical amount) – to get to the 4 gram minimum requirement you would have to take 40 capsules per day. So FOS there as label dressing in these products– as a marketing story.

There is a positive point to make on FOS: Natural sources of FOS – inulin – are present in certain foods such as bananas, onions, tomatoes, rye bread, asparagus and artichokes are beneficial and quite compatible with probiotics – these are examples of true prebiotic foods. The problematic FOS is the synthetic form. Be aware of inulin sensitivity when eating inulin containing foods.


Bacteria organized in biofilms are a common cause of relapsing or persistent infections. Lactoferrin (Lf), a major iron-binding protein induces intestinal lining growth where bacteria must attach to to colonize the colon, proliferation of probiotic bacteria, and depending on its concentration and affects the function and permeability of the intestinal mucosa. The bacterial endotoxin (lipopolysaccharide, LPS) is known to cause mucosal hyperpermeability. Lactoferrin has protective effects against LPS-mediated intestinal mucosal damage and impairment of barrier function in intestinal epithelial cells by reducing biofilm growth. Lactoferrin nearly abolished LPS-induced increases in mitochondrial free radical generation and the accumulation of oxidative damage in the DNA.

Acid Proofing Probiotics

Studies show that > 99% of unprotected probiotics are killed when exposed to stomach acid for 1 hour, a typical time spent in the stomach.

Brand X: (Bacillus coagulans, a probiotic bacteria), calcium (calcium carbonate), vegetarian capsule shell (hypromellose, water, titanium dioxide (color), chlorophyll), microcrystalline cellulose, magnesium stearate and silicon dioxide. May contain trace amounts of casein (milk protein). Lactose free.

  • None
  • Calcium carbonate
  • Acid neutralizer promote Hypochlorhydria, Gallbladder Insufficiency, Pancreas Insufficiency & Loss of Microbial controls
  • Sodium alginate used to acid-proof capsules is a natural carbohydrate found in seaweed protects Probiotic bacteria passage through stomach.

Call today! 530-615-4083

Enzymes indiscriminately damage immunoglobulins and cleave antibodies.
Bacteria, mold and parasites damage immunoglobulins and cleave antibodies to support their survival.

The simplified use of digestive supplements such as Betaine HCl or enzymes does not restore the gut environment. A person using these would digest food better but these supplements will also digest the unprotected gut lining and even cleave immunoglobulins. Immunoglobulins protect you and alert the immune system to potential problems. Cleaved immunoglobulins make you sensitive to anything that comes into contact with them, i.e. food, or cells from the body. Naturally produced digestive acid and enzymes are produced in a healthy gut lining. You may feel better using digestive supplements but you should ask why you need them. Wouldn’t it make more sense to determine the cause of the unhealthy lining? Then support the restoration of healthy gut lining.

Avoid Doses Of Probiotics And Prebiotics.

Until the gastrointestinal lining has had time to heal. The exception would be during antibiotic use which would be a good time to support with live acid-proofed probiotics. The live probiotics would have an opportunity to occupy the lining not damaged by lectins.

The time this takes will depend upon many different factors, i.e. your unique circumstances, diet, therapeutic supplements, immune status, microbial flora, etc. For a probiotic to work it must arrive alive and have a place on the gastrointestinal lining to attach to. Live probiotics colonize the gastrointestinal lining and the contents of the gastrointestinal tract. Dead probiotics only stimulate a cytokine immune response. Live probiotics must have a healthy thin mucus layer to attach to. Lectins damage multiple barrier variables causing shedding of the gastrointestinal villi leaving no space for live probiotics to attach to.

The adverse effects of lectins on gut physiology cannot be counteracted by probiotics. Lectins alter the microbial flora and damage the gastrointestinal lining. At the same time, lectins stimulate a pro-inflammatory cytokine immune response. A healthy gut will be better equipped to support a balanced microbial flora and withstand the effects of inevitable but reasonable lectin intake.

I want the Lectin eBook

Are Edible Enemies contributing to poor health and inflammation? Lectins cause a plethora of damage to the body, promoting chronic inflammation and sensitivity. Take the Edible Enemy Quiz to test your knowledge on lectins.

Use the Lectin Control Formula to reduce the inflammatory response that occurs due to lectin consumption. Take two capsules with each meal.

When is it Appropriate to Introduce Probiotics?

This is a good question. It will depend entirely upon your unique circumstances. We are just now beginning to look at the possibility that prebiotics and probiotic can have deleterious consequences. The Metametrix GIFX will provide important clues when it is appropriate to use live acid-proofed probiotics support. Gastrointestinal symptoms should be minimized and stable with regular bowel movements. Elastase1 should be mid-range and fecal pH should be near 6.6 - 6.8.

Consider these tried-and-true tips for better gut flora (no feces involved):

Eat fermented foods

Salt controls bacterial growth in fermented foods. The bacterial growth is regulated by a sodium to water ratio. Using a salt with minerals and or additive will dilute the sodium ratio. The minerals already exist in the food being fermented. This applies to those using the popular Himalayan Salt. The mineral that give the pink color to the Himalayan salt dilutes sodium concentration. Plus, certain bacteria use the minerals to outcompete other bacteria creating an imbalance in the microbiome.

The Roles Salt Plays in Fermenting

There are several reasons why salt is preferable over other things when it comes to fermenting foods. Here are a few roles that salt plays in the process:

  • Preservation—Salt inhibits the growth of undesirable bacteria and molds while allowing the growth of Lactobacilli.
  • Dehydration—Salt pulls the moisture from the food product that bacteria require for growth.
  • Promote texture—Salt hardens the pectin in vegetables, which results in a crunchy, more flavorful product.

For their good taste—and your good health—favor living fermented foods like unpasteurized sauerkraut and quality yogurt or kefir. This is how they help keep you healthy.

  • Unprocessed fermented foods stimulate the immune system.
  • The flora in living cultured foods form a “living shield” that covers the small intestine’s inner lining and helps inhibit pathogenic organisms including E.coli, salmonella and an unhealthy overgrowth of Candida (yeast).
  • Some fermented foods create antioxidants (glutathione and superoxide dismustase) that scavenge free radicals which are a cancer precursor.
  • Fermenting transforms hard-to-digest lactose from milk to the more easily digested lactic acid. It neutralizes the anti-nutrients found in many foods including the phytic acid found in all grains and the trypsin-inhibitors in soy.
  • Fermentation generates new nutrients including omega-3 fatty acids, digestive aids and the trace mineral GTF chromium.

Eat more plants- Plants are packed with dietary fiber, which bacteria ferment and use to fight pathogens. Dietary fiber is food for bacteria.

Eat a variety of plants- You’ll improve the diversity and health of your microbiome at the same time.

Choose drug-free meats- We all need antibiotics sometimes, but try to reduce your exposure. Antibiotics kill bacteria without discriminating good from bad. A lot of livestock is fed antibiotics and that’s transferred to us.

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