Chicory Root: What Is It, And How Does It Help The Digestive System?

Chicory Root: What Is It, And How Does It Help The Digestive System?

Dietary fiber is well acknowledged to be crucial to digestive health maintenance and enhancement. Fiber is essential for gut health and should be a regular part of your diet for various reasons, including providing fuel for colon cells and controlling bowel movements. In addition, foods high in fiber can help keep your gut microbiota, which is responsible for your health and wellness, in a healthy balance. Gut microbes play a crucial role in maintaining health by regulating appetite, boosting immunity, and shielding you from various potentially fatal chronic diseases. 

Perhaps you've noticed "chicory root," "chicory root fiber," "chicory root extract," "chicory fiber syrup," or "chicory inulin" on the ingredient list of a healthy snack recently. Do you know? What is this mysterious root, and why is it suddenly appearing in breakfast cereals and energy bars? 

Chicory root is an excellent example of a high-fiber vegetable used for medicinal purposes for a long time. Let's keep reading to find out what it is and why it's suitable for your digestive system.

What Is Chicory Root?

Chicory root fiber is one type of vegetable fiber. Chicory root (Cichorium sativum) is often confused with endive (Cichorium endivia). However, chicory (Cichorium intybus), in the same genus as endive, is the preferred plant for making root fiber. 

Its origin is in the roots of the chicory plant, as the name implies. The plant is a dandelion. Humans have cultivated plants of this species since the Stone Age. At first, it was grown in Egypt for its therapeutic properties. However, since the 17th century, it's been substituted by coffee.  In its many forms, this plant is used to alleviate a wide range of symptoms and medical ailments. In alternative medicine, leaf extract is used to cure many cancers and tumors, including those of the uterus. In Africa, chicory grows like a weed. Therefore, all parts of the chicory plant, including the leaves, stems, and roots, are used.

Some examples are infant and baby purifier syrup, chicory extract tonic, and jaundice decoction. The flavor is nutty and woody. The consumption of coffee made from chicory root is gaining popularity worldwide.

What are the positive effects of chicory root fiber on human health?

The numerous positive effects of fiber have gotten considerable attention, but inulin from chicory root provides many of the same benefits.

  • Keep check-in blood sugar level

The inulin in chicory root (Cichorium intybus) is a good source of the water-soluble fiber pectin. Moreover, because of its indigestibility, chicory inulin can be utilized as a sugar and fat substitute in processed and functional foods.

Adding inulin to a recipe can help reduce sugar and fat, making for a healthier snack. Inulin from chicory roots can help keep blood sugar levels stable. A clinical study found that inulin supplementation in women with Type 2 diabetes decreased fasting glucose levels and increased antioxidant capacity.

  • Aids digestion and reduces constipation

Fiber from chicory roots contains inulin, a carbohydrate that feeds beneficial bacteria in the digestive tract and may promote regular bowel movements. These probiotic bacteria in the gut secrete substances that facilitate better digestion and intestinal movement.

According to studies, those who take an inulin supplement derived from chicory root have softer, more frequent feces. In addition, inulin enhances protection against colon cancer. Constipation has been linked to an increased risk of colon cancer. Therefore this is a significant advantage of consuming chicory root.

  • Beneficial in weight loss journey

Inulin-containing foods are lower in calories and fat. Therefore, they're safer for the weight loss mission. Plus, chicory is a good source of fiber. You'll feel full and satisfied for a longer period. In some cases, this could prevent you from indulging in unhealthy snack binges or overeating.

Chicory roots are one of the main ingredients in YourHappyLife's Complete Weight Management Gummies. They help with weight loss, burning fat, suppressing hunger pangs, promoting healthy metabolism, improving digestive health, getting rid of bloating, and losing stubborn fat.

  • Boosts immunity

Gut health is crucial to overall health, and eating foods that support the gut also improves immunity because so much of the immune system is housed there. In addition, studies have shown that maintaining a healthy digestive system can reduce the risk of developing allergies like eczema.

  • Reduces bad cholesterol

Consuming chicory root fiber regularly may help lower cholesterol levels since it efficiently lowers HDL (the "bad" LDL cholesterol). Consumption of chicory root fiber is also connected with a decreased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other lifestyle-related disorders.

  • Good source of potassium

Several nutrients, including potassium, in chicory root fiber, might speed up muscle repair after vigorous exercise. It's becoming more common in protein powders like Fuel, and It's Just. An additional reason why potassium is so beneficial for the cardiovascular system is that it aids in keeping the body's sodium levels stable.

  • Good source of calcium

In addition, chicory root has minute quantities of calcium, which supports healthy teeth and bones and helps maintain proper nerve function.

Are There Any Drawbacks To Consuming Chicory Root?

Although chicory root has numerous recognized health benefits, it may not suit everyone. Chicory root is on the FDA's Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) list. Thus, it's safe to eat. Most of the population likely consumes chicory due to its presence in numerous ready-to-eat foods.

However, caution should be given by people considering medically significant doses of chicory consumption. Among the potential negative impacts of a high-fiber diet are gas-related stomach pain and burp issues.

Due to a lack of study on the supplement's safety during pregnancy and breastfeeding, chicory root use is not advised during these times.

Is chicory root healthy or harmful?

Inulin, a chicory fiber associated with a number of these advantages, can be ingested in several ways. However, it's safe to assume that a breakfast bar's inulin content is higher than onion, garlic, or leeks.

Chicory is just one food source of vitamin B12, and ensuring that we get the most out of each requires a diet rich in a wide range of fibers. Reduce your intake of chicory root if you experience any side effects.

The Takeaway

Chicory root fiber is a popular additive in many processed foods, beverages, medicines & supplements. However, recent studies have shown that it is probably safe for general ingestion.

According to a nutritionist, better to consume in the form of whole, unprocessed foods high in fiber. If consuming chicory root-containing manufactured food products helps a person meet their daily fiber requirements who would not be able to do so through diet alone, then it is reasonable to include such products with other high-quality food sources.

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