Production of Inulin
Mar 30, 2021


Inulin is a group of polysaccharrides produced from different types of plants (chicory, Jerusalem artichoke, wheat, banana, dahlia, etc.) to stock energy. It is a dietary fiber used as a pre-biotic agent to stimulate the gastrointestinal bacteria and presenting potential other benefits for human health.

The extraction step generates a mixture of polysaccharides with various degree of polymerization (from DP1 to around DP150) and various impurities. The purification consists of recovering only the long chains (DP>70) which compose the preferred members of the inulin family.



While the long polysaccharide chains compose the inulin, the very short chains can be valorized as Fructo-oligosaccharides or FOS (polymers with DP2-4).

If required, the short chains mixture can be demineralized with our ion exchange technology to enhance the performance of the next steps.The SSMB chromatography is used, as for the inulin, to recover only the fraction of DP2, DP3 and DP4 by removing the DP1 and DP>4. The technology enables you to produce FOS-95, a purer and more concentrated FOS that can be spray-dried and valorized as a powder.

Production of inulin from chicory

Production of inulin from chicory

The production process involves extracting naturally occurring inulin from chicory roots by diffusion in hot water. The raw extract is then refined by using technologies from the sugar and starch industries, and then evaporated and spray dried. Chicory oligofructose is obtained by partial enzymatic hydrolysis of inulin, eventually followed by spray drying. Hydrolysis is catalyzed either by exo-inulinase, by the combined action of exo- and endo-inulinases, or solely by endoinulinase.

Industrial production of inulin

Chicory root is the main source of extraction for commercial production of inulin. The extraction process for inulin is similar to obtaining sugar from sugar beets.[5] After harvest, the chicory roots are sliced and washed, then soaked in a solvent; the inulin is then isolated, purified, and spray dried. Inulin may also be synthesized from sucrose.

Where is inulin produced?

Inulins are a group of naturally occurring polysaccharides produced by many types of plants,industrially most often extracted from chicory. The inulins belong to a class of dietary fibers known as fructans. Inulin is used by some plants as a means of storing energy and is typically found in roots or rhizomes. Most plants that synthesize and store inulin do not store other forms of carbohydrate such as starch. In the United States in 2018, the Food and Drug Administration approved inulin as a dietary fiber ingredient used to improve the nutritional value of manufactured food products.Using inulin to measure kidney function is the "gold standard" for comparison with other means of estimating glomerular filtration rate.

What is the inulin

What is inulin?

Inulin is a natural soluble dietary fiber that comes from roots of the chicory plant. It is a carbohydrate composed of many units of fructose joined together (a polysaccharide).

Inulin is a traditional component of the human diet. It is naturally present in fruit and vegetables like onions, leek, bananas and garlic, among many other plants. Chicory roots are the main commercial source for inulin. For this reason, this food ingredient is often labelled as chicory root fiber. It has significant, scientifically-proven health benefits. Inulin can be applied to develop tasty, healthy food products. Besides fiber enrichment it can be used to replace sugar and fat while improving taste and mouthfeel.

Synonyms of inulin

Inulin and oligofructose, also called fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS), belong to the class of fructan carbohydrates. Other synonyms for these healthy food ingredients are chicory root fiber and chicory root extract. Here the word inulin refers to all types of inulins, including oligofructose and chicory root fiber.

How is inulin made

How is inulin made?

Inulin is a starchy substance found in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and herbs, including wheat, onions, bananas, leeks, artichokes, and asparagus. The inulin that is used for medicine is most commonly obtained by soaking chicory roots in hot water.

Inulin is commonly used by mouth for high blood fats, including cholesterol and triglycerides. It is also used for weight loss, constipation, diarrhea, and diabetes.

Inulin is branched or unbranched

Bacterial inulin is more highly branched (more than 15% branching) and contains on the order of tens or hundreds of subunits.

Inulin structure

Inulin structure

Inulin is a heterogeneous collection of fructose polymers. It consists of chain-terminating glucosyl moieties and a repetitive fructosyl moiety,which are linked by β(2,1) bonds. The degree of polymerization (DP) of standard inulin ranges from 2 to 60. After removing the fractions with DP lower than 10 during manufacturing process, the remaining product is high-performance inulin.Some articles considered the fractions with DP lower than 10 as short-chained fructo-oligosaccharides, and only called the longer-chained molecules inulin.

Because of the β(2,1) linkages, inulin is not digested by enzymes in the human alimentary system, contributing to its functional properties: reduced calorie value, dietary fiber, and prebiotic effects. Without color and odor, it has little impact on sensory characteristics of food products. Oligofructose has 35% of the sweetness of sucrose, and its sweetening profile is similar to sugar. Standard inulin is slightly sweet, while high-performance inulin is not. Its solubility is higher than the classical fibers. When thoroughly mixed with liquid, inulin forms a gel and a white creamy structure, which is similar to fat. Its three-dimensional gel network, consisting of insoluble submicron crystalline inulin particles, immobilizes large amount of water, assuring its physical stability. It can also improve the stability of foams and emulsions.

Inulin clearance

Inulin clearance, procedure by which the filtering capacity of the glomeruli (the main filtering structures of the kidney) is determined by measuring the rate at which inulin, the test substance, is cleared from blood plasma.

Inulin is the most accurate substance to measure because it is a small, inert polysaccharide molecule that readily passes through the glomeruli into the urine without being reabsorbed by the renal tubules. The steps involved in this measurement, however, are quite involved; consequently, inulin is seldom used in clinical testing, although it is used in research. Creatinine clearance (q.v.) is the more common procedure used to assess renal function.

Inulin function

Inulin function

Inulin is not digested or absorbed in the stomach. It goes to the bowels where bacteria are able to use it to grow. It supports the growth of a special kind of bacteria that are associated with improving bowel function and general health. Inulin decreases the body's ability to make certain kinds of fats.

Inulin is made up of

Inulin is a polymer composed of fructose monomers linked via β-(2-1)-d-frutosyl fructose bonds. It is indigestible in human small intestine due to presence of β-configuration of C-2 and can be fermented by intestinal microflora in large intestine. Nearly 90% of the inulin passes to the colon and digested by colonic bacteria. In chicory inulin, degree of polymerization or the number of monomer unit vary from 2 to 60 showing a combination of both oligomers and polymers. Molecular weight and degree of polymerization (103–105) of bacterial inulin is very high and more branched as compared to plant inulin. Sources of inulin include onions, garlic, wheat, artichokes, and bananas. Caloric value of inulin is low, that is, 1.5 kcal/g which may be due to its indigestible nature.

Inulin is a protein

Inulin is an ingredient in many types of protein bar. Inulin is a type of soluble fiber found in many plants.Inulin is also fructan. Like other fructans, it is a prebiotic, meaning that it feeds the good bacteria in the gut.

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