Home Pharmacognosy Jerusalem artichoke (Sunroot) inulin to curb obesity by Chula research team

Jerusalem artichoke (Sunroot) inulin to curb obesity by Chula research team

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Newswise – ‘Jerusalem Inulin (Sunroot)’, a Chula Medical School innovation that helps maintain gut microbiota balance and reduce obesity, is to be developed into a health-boosting functional prebiotic food for all ages.

Obesity, especially in children, may not be caused by overeating alone, but may also stem from an imbalance of gut microorganisms, also known as “intestinal bacterial obesity in children” .

“In obese people, there is often an imbalance in the gut microbiota: a lack of certain good microorganisms that help the body burn and consume energy properly. Thus, the fight against this type of obesity can be achieved by providing “prebiotics” to add good microorganisms to balance the intestines and promote the balanced functioning of bodily systems,” said Adjunct Assistant Professor Chonnikant Visuthranukul, MD, Nutrition Division, Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine revealed the rationale for the “Research project on the effect of Jerusalem artichoke inulin extract in obese children» realized in collaboration with Assistant Professor Dr. Supakarn Chamni, Department of Pharmacognosy and Pharmaceutical Botany, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Chulalongkorn University.

“This is the largest research project in the world that administered prebiotics to 165 obese children who volunteered to participate. Participants drank 1 sachet of the special formula of Jerusalem artichoke (sunroot) inulin extract by dissolving it in water daily for 6 months. The search results were excellent. The intestinal microflora of the subjects was restored to normal conditions without any side effects,” Adjunct Asst. Professor Dr. Chonnikant explained.

The research received the first prize from world class FISPGHAN Abstract Award for Best Oral Presentation and Young Investigator Award at the 6th World Congress of Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (WCPGHAN 2021) in Vienna, Austria. The team is ready to take research to the next level by producing prebiotic functional foods as a health booster for people of all ages.

Jerusalem artichoke, an inulin-rich herb that the intestinal microbiota loves

Jerusalem artichoke is a plant native to North America, but is widely grown in Thailand due to its adaptability to tropical climates. It is also called sunroot, Jerusalem artichoke, wild sunflower, potato, etc.

“Sunroot’s health benefits come from a high amount of inulin compared to other herbs. Inulin is a water-soluble fiber rich in fructo-oligosaccharides (plant sugar chains) – the prebiotics that are excellent food for the essential gut microbiome (or probiotics). Probiotics help link communication between body systems with the brain, for example, to regulate feelings of hunger and fullness. It also connects the liver and pancreatic systems to regulate blood sugar, the immune system to reduce inflammation in the body, and the liver and fat cells to reduce fat storage, thereby promoting weight loss,” Asst.Prof . Supakarn explained.

Today, inulin is used as an ingredient in many food products and dietary supplements. However, for this research Adjunct Asst. Professor Dr Channikant said the research team developed a breakthrough method of inulin extraction which was patented in 2020.

“When extracting inulin from Jerusalem artichokes, we select a special type of water-soluble fiber through a state-of-the-art method that has never been used before to maintain its prebiotic properties that promote the growth of micro -healthy organisms.

Also, Deputy Assistant. Prof. Dr. Channikant added that the team is focusing on studying sunroot variants that are grown in Thailand to promote optimal plant utilization and create jobs and income for Thai farmers.

Jerusalem artichoke

From solar inulin to functional foods to balance the gut microbiome and fight obesity

Currently, the research team has expanded research into the development of two inulin drink formulations: Original and Cocoa flavors to facilitate consumption by obese children and adults.

Assoc. Professor Supakarn compared conventional weight loss products and sunroot inulin products that “conventional weight loss products work as a diuretic, resulting in rapid weight loss. It is a short-term solution that has many side effects. Sunroot’s inulin, on the other hand, will make you feel fuller and have fewer cravings. The ingested fiber would travel through the intestines and provide food for bacteria in the colon. This process of bacteria growth is good for your health by controlling blood sugar and cholesterol while supporting the immune system.

Sunroot Inulin to be developed for consumers

Assoc. Professor Supakarn said the inulin extract developed by the research team is an active ingredient that can be used in a wide variety of food products like crisp, soft or jelly drinks or snacks to meet the needs of all consumer groups.

“Inulin can be adapted in many forms, but the processing should not interfere with the effectiveness of inulin. Further study is needed to find a suitable process to adapt to the special inulin fiber from sunroot,” said Assoc Prof. Dr. Supakarn.

The research team is currently seeking the collaboration of interested private sectors for the commercial production and commercialization of the “sunroot inulin“.

“What we want to do next is bring the research results to production processes certified by international standards to manufacture and market inulin to the public. This is so that they can have access to products of quality and safe, which can strengthen the body.It can also help to support Thai producers of the highly nutritious root of the sun.Assoc. Prof. Dr. Supakarn concluded.