Chapter 11 : Inulin-Type Fructans

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Inulin-type fructans are the most extensively studied pre-biotic compounds with proven efficacy. As research progressed, three criteria that a food ingredient should fulfill before it can be classified as a prebiotic were accepted: first, it should be nondigestible and resistant to gastric acidity, hydrolysis by intestinal (brush border/pancreatic) digestive enzymes, and gastrointestinal absorption; second, it should be fermentable; and third, it should, in a selective way, stimulate the growth and/or metabolic activity of intestinal bacteria that are associated with health and well-being. Given the increasing prevalence of osteoporosis, increasing calcium absorption from the diet by the addition of inulin-type fructans is an important strategy to improve bone metabolism at all ages. At present there are two approaches to prevent osteoporosis. The first is by optimizing bone mass acquisition in the skeleton during growth, and the second is by minimizing bone loss in later life. More recently it was demonstrated that the effects of inulin-type fructans on cholesterol and lipid metabolism have beneficial consequences in the process of atherosclerosis given that both are at the basis of disease development. The mechanisms responsible for the effects of inulin-type fructans on lipid and cholesterol metabolism in the human body are complex and include various interdependent biochemical pathways which take place in the liver, pancreas, intestine, and peripheral tissues. Research in this field has evolved, with the primary focus being on endocrine activity in the gut.

Citation: Loo J, Bosscher D. 2008. Inulin-Type Fructans, p 147-157. In Versalovic J, Wilson M (ed), Therapeutic Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815462.ch11
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Figure 1

Chemical structure of inulin.

Citation: Loo J, Bosscher D. 2008. Inulin-Type Fructans, p 147-157. In Versalovic J, Wilson M (ed), Therapeutic Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815462.ch11
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Figure 2

High-performance anion-exchange chromatographic presentation of different chicory inulin fractions (products). The technique is not quantitative but shows accurately the distribution of various chain lengths. Native inulin (Orafti ST) is the inulin as extracted from the chicory root. The DP varies from 3 to 65; the average DP is 10. Oligofructose (Orafti P95) is partially hydrolyzed chicory inulin (DP, between 2 and 8; average DP, 4). Long-chain inulin (Orafti HP) is devoid of the oligofructose fraction (DP, between 10 and 65; average DP, 25). Oligofructose-enriched inulin (Orafti Synergy1) contains a selected range of chain lengths.

Citation: Loo J, Bosscher D. 2008. Inulin-Type Fructans, p 147-157. In Versalovic J, Wilson M (ed), Therapeutic Microbiology. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555815462.ch11
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