We all know that dietary fiber plays an instrumental role in maintaining and improving digestive health. Right from fuelling colon cells to regulating bowel movements, fiber is beneficial for gut health and must be included in your daily diet. Fiber-rich foods help maintain a balance between the good and bad bacteria in your gut microbiome, which determines the overall health and wellbeing of your body. The tiny microorganisms living in your gut will ensure that you don’t gain or lose weight drastically, your immune system functions properly, and you stay protected from different chronic life-threatening conditions. One such important fiber-rich food is chicory root, which has proven to be an effective herbal remedy for quite some time now. Let’s read on to know what it is and how it benefits your digestive health.
What is Chicory Root?
Known to be a Mediterranean plant, chicory belongs to the dandelion family and is cultivated for culinary purposes and medicinal applications. It has a characteristic woody taste and is predominantly used in preparations like salads. While it is commonly seen along the roadsides in Europe, where it is said to have originated, it can thrive in different weather conditions. The leaves, buds, and roots all have qualities that benefit the health, predominantly the gut. Chicory root is the root of the plant, which is said to contain inulin, a dietary fiber that acts as a great prebiotic for the gut flora to thrive. The root is often ground into a powdered form, which many used as a coffee substitute
Chicory Root Nutrition
As per the USDA FoodData Central, chicory root is a rich source of dietary fiber, vitamins and minerals, including zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese, calcium, and potassium. As it contains inulin, which acts as a great prebiotic, it benefits gut health in many ways as given below.
Chicory Root Benefits
Does chicory root help? Yes, it has many health benefits such as improving blood sugar control, reducing inflammation, aiding in weight loss, among other things. However, out of all of them, its benefits for the gut are the most important. Let’s look at them below.
Helps in Digestion
The inulin present in chicory root benefits digestive health as it is a powerful prebiotic. Prebiotics are plant fibers that aid healthy bacteria to grow in your gut. In short, they are food for the good bacteria in the gut, which enables your digestive system to work better. This inulin component present in chicory root helps to fight a number of digestive and intestinal concerns such as indigestion, gas, acidity, heartburn, and more chronic conditions as GERD.
A good source of oligofructose and inulin, both of which are natural forms of dietary fiber, chicory root keeps you satiated for long, curbing the appetite in the process. This way it also helps in weight management. Furthermore, it also helps in regulating the ghrelin hormone, which is an important amino acid, predominantly responsible for inducing hunger pangs.
The dietary fiber aids in bulking up the stools, encouraging a smooth bowel movement and the secretion of gastric juices necessary for the same. In short, consuming chicory root improves the digestion process by reducing symptoms of constipation. Once the digestion process is in check, it will automatically reduce the chances of gastrointestinal conditions and diseases.
How To Add Chicory Root To Your Diet?
It is quite easy to add chicory root to your diet. If you wish to reduce your caffeine intake, you can roast and ground chicory root to use it as a coffee substitute. Ideally, 2 tablespoons for every one cup of water should work wonders. Given that it is at times used as an additive in packaged foods, you must have already had it without even realising it. It is processed for its inulin, which is used for its fiber content or as a sugar substitute, thanks to its mild sweet flavor. Many may also prefer to take chicory root supplements to meet their fiber requirements.
Some people also prefer to boil the root and have it as a vegetable. Additionally, inulin from the chicory root is also extracted and made into supplements, which can be used to better the gut health. Wellbeing Nutrition's Probiotic + Prebiotic product improves digestive balance with a combination of six active probiotic cultures and prebiotic fibre obtained from Apple Pomace and Chicory root (inulin) for complete gut health.
Word of caution: Although chicory root benefits the gut and health in many ways, it should not be consumed in excess. Pregnant or breastfeeding women and people with chronic conditions should consult a medical practitioner before adding any additional food or supplement to their diet.