Gastrointestinal Tolerance of Chicory Inulin Products



      The use of inulin in foods as a fiber source has increased recently. Consumption of inulin products can cause gastrointestinal (GI) distress. Acceptable intakes of inulin need to be determined.


      To determine the GI tolerance of two inulin fibers, shorter chain length oligofructose and native inulin, at 5- and 10-g doses compared to a placebo.


      A randomized, double-blind, controlled, crossover design that included a phone screening and five visits for breakfast fiber challenges consisting of a bagel, cream cheese, and orange juice.


      Twenty-six healthy men and women ages 18 to 60 years participated in the study. Healthy subjects with no history of GI conditions consumed diets with typical amounts of fiber.

      Main outcome measures

      GI tolerance was calculated as the sum of scores on seven GI tolerance domains via questionnaire administered at t=0, 2, 4, 24, and 48 hours following fiber challenge.

      Statistical analyses performed

      A mixed effects linear model was used to compare the tolerance scores among the five fiber challenges.


      The two inulin fibers tended to increase GI symptoms mildly. Most frequently reported symptoms were flatulence followed by bloating. The 10-g dose of oligofructose substantially increased GI symptoms compared to control.


      Doses up to 10 g/day of native inulin and up to 5 g/day of oligofructose were well-tolerated in healthy, young adults.
      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Slavin J.
        Position of the American Dietetic Association: Health implications of dietary fiber.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; 108: 1716-1731
        • Coussement P.
        Inulin and oligofructose: Safe intakes and legal status.
        J Nutr. 1999; 129: 1412S-1417S
        • Flamm G.
        • Glinsmann W.
        • Kritchevsky D.
        • Prosky L.
        • Roberfroid M.
        Inulin and oligofructose as dietary fiber: A review of the evidence.
        Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2001; 41: 353-362
        • Gibson G.
        • Probert H.
        • Van Loo J.
        • Rastall R.
        • Roberfroid M.
        Dietary modulation of the human colonic microbiota: Updating the concept of prebiotics.
        Nutr Res Rev. 2004; 17: 259-275
        • Ellegard L.
        • Andersson H.
        • Bosaeus I.
        Inulin and oligofructose do not influence the absorption of cholesterol, and the excretion of cholesterol, Fe, Ca, Mg and bile acids but increases energy excretion in man.
        Eur J Clin Nutr. 1997; 51: 1-5
        • Knudsen K.
        • Hessov I.
        Recovery of inulin from Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus l) in the small intestine of man.
        Br J Nutr. 1995; 74: 101-113
        • Alles M.
        • Hautvasti J.
        • Nagengast F.
        • Hartemink R.
        • Van Laere K.
        Jansen J.
        Br J Nutr. 1996; 76: 211-221
        • Kleessen B.
        • Schwarz S.
        • Boehm A.
        • Fuhrmann H.
        • Richter A.
        • Henle T.
        • Krueger M.
        Jerusalem artichoke and chicory inulin in bakery products affect faecal microbiota of healthy volunteers.
        Br J Nutr. 2007; 98: 540-549
        • Graten S.
        • Liukkonen K.
        • Chrevatidis A.
        • El-Nezami H.
        • Poutanen K.
        • Mykkanen H.
        Effects of wheat pentosan and inulin on the metabolic activity of fecal microbiota and on bowel function in healthy humans.
        Nutr Res. 2003; 23: 1503-1514
        • Kleessen B.
        • Svkura B.
        • Zunft H.
        • Blaut M.
        Effects of inulin and lactose on fecal microflora, microbial activity, and bowel habit in elderly constipated persons.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 1997; 65: 1397-1402
        • Grabitske H.A.
        • Slavin J.L.
        Gastrointestinal effects of low-digestble carbohydrates.
        Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2009; 49: 327-360
        • Rumessen J.
        • Gudmand-Høyer E.
        Fructans of chicory: Intestinal transport and fermentation of different chain lengths and relation to fructose and sorbitol malabsorption.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 1998; 68: 357-364
        • Stone-Dorshow T.
        • Levitt M.
        Gaseous response to digestion of poorly absorbed fructooligosaccharides sweetener.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 1987; 46: 61-65
        • Briet F.
        • Achour L.
        • Flourie B.
        • Beaugerie L.
        • Pellier P.
        • Franchisseur C.
        • Bornet F.
        • Rambaud J.C.
        Symptomatic response to varying levels of fructo-oligosaccharides consumed occasionally or regularly.
        Eur J Clin Nutr. 1995; 49: 501-507
        • Bruhwyler J.
        • Carreer F.
        • Demanet E.
        • Jacobs H.
        Digestive tolerance of inulin-type fructans: A double-blind, placebo-controlled, cross-over, dose-ranging, randomized study in healthy volunteers.
        Int J Food Sci Nutr. 2009; 60: 165-175
        • Grabitske H.A.
        • Slavin J.L.
        Low-digestible carbohydrates in practice.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2008; : 1677-1681
        • Stewart M.
        • Timm D.
        • Slavin J.
        Fructooligosaccharides exhibit more rapid fermentation than long-chain inulin in an in vitro fermentation system.
        Nutr Res. 2008; 28: 329-334


      A. L. Bonnema is a graduate student, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota–St. Paul, Minneapolis, MN


      J. L. Slavin is a professor, Department of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Minnesota–St. Paul, Minneapolis, MN


      W. Thomas is an associate professor, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota–Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN


      L. W. Kolberg is a senior manager of regulatory and scientific affairs, Cargill, Inc, Minneapolis, MN