IN DEPTH DESCRIPTION
Cacao comes from the Theobroma cacao plant that also gives chocolate and cocoa (the heated for
m of cacao). Cacao is the purest form. After removing the fat, it is cold-pressed and remains unroasted so retains its live enzymes. Cocoa flavanols have shown numerous potential benefits including effects on heart, brain and mood.
Cardiovascular effects may relate to the high antioxidant activity of cocoa flavanols. Blood pressure lowering effects were seen in a large-scale 15 year study of 470 men; those who regularly consumed cocoa showed blood pressure benefit and reduced risk of death. A 2010 study found that by its effects on blood pressure and vasodilation, cocoa flavanols may decrease cardiovascular risk end enhance cardiovascular benefits of moderate intensity exercise. Dark chocolate was found to reduce the ‘oxygen cost’ of moderate intensity exercise and may be considered an ergogenic aid for short –duration moderate intensity exercise. This means cacao and dark chocolate may enhance performance. Flavonoids in dark chocolate have also been shown to improve platelet function.
Vasodilatory benefits were found in healthy male adults and especially so in adults (male and female) over age 50 with the effect more pronounced with higher flavanol content. Cacao is rich in flavan-3-ols, a subclass of flavonoids degraded by roasting and alkalization and which account for the vascular effect.
Vasodilatory benefit is also seen in the brain with use of flavanol-rich cocoa which was found to increase cerebral flood flow to gray matter of the brain. A recent review found cacao flavonoids penetrate and accumulate in brain regions involved in learning and memory, and are thought to exert their influence both by direct interaction with the nervous system and via blood-flow improvement to the area. Earlier, a 2010 double-blinded crossover trial of 30 healthy adults found acute cognitive improvements following consumption of cocoa flavanols.
A Swiss study of 30 subjects found 14 days consumption of dark chocolate alleviates stress. Chocolate consumption may also affect synthesis of serotonin (neurotransmitter considered to have a major role in mood).
In addition to cardiovascular and neurological benefits, flavanols may help improve insulin sensitivity. A 2005 study of 15 healthy subjects found both decreased blood pressure and improved insulin sensitivity with consumption for 15 days of flavanol-rich dark chocolate. Cocoa may also modulate fat metabolism and prevent obesity according to a 2005 animal study.
Eleutherococcus senticosus, better known as Siberian ginseng, is not a true (panax) ginseng and is chemically and pharmacologically different but, like panax (Korean ginseng) is considered to be an adaptogenic herb.
Adaptogens are determined to be substances which are innocuous, have nonspecific action and with ‘normalizing action. To be considered adaptogenic, a substance must reduce stress-induced damage for example by anti-fatigue, anti-depressant, infection-fighting and/or restorative activity. It must have stimulating effect which may increase work capacity or mental performance in fatigue and stress. In addition, adaptogens must have normalising influence and must not deplete energy resources or have negative side effects.
Siberian ginseng has been used for thousands of years for a variety of effects including prevention of respiratory tract infections. It was also considered to provide energy and vitality. In Russia, eleutherococcus was used to increase performance and quality of life and has been used by Soviet Olympic athletes to increase stamina and endurance. Many published studies on Siberian ginseng are in Russian.
Against a background of extensive use and research in Russia, Siberian ginseng has been shown to improve use of oxygen by exercising muscle which, in a single blind cross-over study with 6 male adolescents enabled an increased total work load of 23% compared with only 7.5% rise due to placebo.
A more recent double-blind, randomized, placebo controlled and crossover study of 8 weeks duration showed ergogenic benefit for recreationally trained males using Siberian ginseng which showed enhanced endurance capacity (VO2 max) and elevated cardiovascular functions. Siberian ginseng has been shown to be as effective as caffeine for increasing the exhaustion time in treadmill running.
A 2009 review of the efficacy of adaptogens in fatigue and stress found good scientific evidence that Siberian ginseng increased endurance and mental performance in cases of mild fatigue and weakness. According to this review, a study published in Russian of 357 sailors showed Siberian ginseng stimulated and improved mental performance as well as aiding the adaptation of the individual to stressful situations.
Other human studies assessed in the 2009 review have shown possible benefit in cases of moderate fatigue and, in combination with other adaptogenic substances, Siberian ginseng may improve memory and increase mental performance and quality of life as well as recovery after illness.
Reduction of cardiovascular response to stress was also shown in a 2002 double-blind randomized placebo controlled study of 45 adults.
Animal studies have suggested possible mechanisms for the beneficial effects of Siberian ginseng. Mice subjected to a forced swimming task showed longer time to exhaustion thus, increased exercise tolerance. Other similar studies showed the antioxidant effect of the herb may be one of the anti-fatigue mechanisms.
The herb withania somnifera, also known as ashwagandha is used with extensive application in traditional Indian and Ayurvedic medicine. The active constituents include withanolides which are steroidal and resemble, in action and appearance, ginsenosides, the active constituents of panax ginseng. Like, Siberian ginseng, ashwagandha is considered to be an adaptogenic herb.
A 2000 review of therapeutic uses of ashwagandha discusses beneficial endocrine, cardiopulmonary and central nervous system effects via various properties for this herb: anti-inflammatory, blood-cell building, anti-tumor, rejuvenating, antioxidant, immune-modulating and anti-stress. One of the animal studies reviewed found reduction in stress-induced increase of plasma corticosterone and other markers.
A swimming endurance study in mice showed ashwagandha prevented the increased adrenal weight and decreased ascorbic acid and cortisol content of adrenal glands induced by stress. And ashwagandha, like panax ginseng shows significant anti-stress and anabolic activity. Other animal studies have shown antidepressant and anxiety-reducing effect of ashwagandha similar in effect to standard pharmaceutical drugs.
A 2012 placebo-controlled study of 40 elite Indian cyclists showed improved cardiorespiratory endurance with use of Ashwagandha for 8 weeks. All parameters tested were improved including VO2 max and time for exhaustion. The placebo group showed no change with respect to baseline parameters. A 2015 randomized, double-blind, placebo controlled study of 50 healthy athletic adults (performing a shuttle run test ) also found improvements in cardiorespiratory endurance and quality of life.
A 2014 double-blind, multi-dose, placebo-controlled, crossover study of 20 healthy male participants found improved cognitive and psychomotor performance with ashwagandha.
Maca (Lepidium meyenii) is also referred to as Peruvian ginseng. Its constituents (alkaloids, steroids, glucosinolates, isothicyanates and macamides) are probably responsible for its adaptogenic, aphrodisiac, immune-stimulating, anabolic and hormonal aptitudes. Maca also contains good amounts B vitamins and antioxidant vitamins C and E.
There is good evidence from animal tests for the anti-fatigue effects of various constituents of maca. Macamides were assessed in a study of rats subjected to forced swimming task. The study showed macamides improved endurance capacity explained partly by reduction of oxidative stress as measured by various parameters including total glutathione. A 2016 study with mice found significant effects on various parameters attributing the anti-fatigue effect of macamides on modulation of energy metabolism and improved antioxidant—superoxide dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase—status.
A 2004 study using mice subjected to a swimming test showed maca restored homeostasis impaired by stress in relation to incidence of ulcers, effect on glucose and corticosterone levels, and weight of adrenal glands.
With regards to exercise performance in humans, in a randomised crossover design placebo study of 8 trained male cyclists undertaking a 40 km cycling task, maca showed improved cycling time performance and sexual desire following 14 days supplementation.
A 2012 paper on the effects of maca describes the plant as an adaptogen and ‘energizer’. In addition to libido-boosting effects, human studies have shown reduction in anxiety and depression. Maca roots vary by type, as evidenced by colour; all colour varieties were shown to have anti-depressant effect.
Baobab fruit from the Adansonia digitate tree is particularly rich in vitamin C; 100grams of baobab has 270mg vitamin C as well as 7.4mg iron and 285 mg calcium .
Vitamin C supports energy availability via its association with iron; vitamin C enhances the absorption of dietary iron although its ability to reduce anaemia has not been shown. Many of the studies relating to the effects of iron on performance are on children and adolescents. Iron may improve attention and concentration with impact on cognitive function and may have a positive effect on physical performance.
Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant involved in stress, anxiety, fatigue and mood states in humans; a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 42 high school students found 14 days supplementation with vitamin C to significantly affect heart rate and thus reduce anxiety for improved academic performance.
A study In 29 ultramarathon runners (90 km) found strong increases in concentration of plasma cytokines which were attenuated in runners ingesting 1500mg but not 500mg of vitamin C supplements for 1 week prior to and during the race. A further study showed attenuation, albeit transient, of circulating cortisol, adrenaline and anti-inflammatory polypeptides in response to prolonged exercise in 45 participants of a 90km ultramarathon who supplemented with 1500 mg daily when compared to 500mg or less daily. In addition to these effects, high-dose vitamin C has shown ability to reduce muscle soreness in a study of 18 men. (See below for more vitamin C effects.)
The antioxidant activity of the fresh ripe baobab fruit is 1000mg AEAC/100g (ascorbic acid equivalent antioxidant content) and a 2011 review of the commercial importance of the Adansonia digitate tree favourably compares the antioxidant capacity of baobab to a number of fruits including citrus, mango and papaya.
Another 2011 review of baobab discusses numerous other benefits including analgesic, anti-inflammatory and prebiotic-like activity. Baobab fruit pulp supplies soluble and insoluble fibres with stimulating effects on the growth of lactobacilli and bifidobacteria. (See below sections on prebiotics and probiotics.)
Glycine has a calming and balancing effect on the central nervous system (CNS). It is the smallest and simplest amino acid in the human body, yet glycine is the 2nd most widespread in human enzymes and proteins. It functions as an ‘inhibitory’ neurotransmitter, regulating nerve impulses to prevent over-firing; glycine interferes with the hyper-‘excitability’ actions of stimulatory neurotransmitters (such as glutamate). Glycine may be co-released with GABA the main inhibitory amino acid neurotransmitter in some areas of the CNS, and may have ability to modulate excitatory neurotransmission via effect on NMDA receptors. This means glycine may have impact on memory since the NMDA receptor is the main molecular device for controlling memory function.
Glycine may be a useful cognitive enhancer without stimulant properties according to a 1999 double-blind, randomized, crossover design study of students and middle aged men which found improved memory with glycine. The study concluded glycine may benefit memory when performance might be impaired by disrupted sleep, jet lag or shift work.
A 2012 randomised, single-blinded, placebo-controlled crossover study on 10 sleep-restricted healthy men found a significant reduction in fatigue and a tendency toward reduced sleepiness following administration of 3 grams of glycine.
Glycine showed both subjective and objective improvement in sleep quality in a 2007 randomized single-blinded crossover trial of 11 healthy volunteers; it lessened daytime sleepiness and improved performance of memory recognition tasks.
Glycine has also been found to significantly increase serotonin levels, according to a 2011 animal study which suggests the effect may be down to modulation of the NMDA receptor; this may account for altered sleep quality.
Glycine may help support energy production and fight fatigue via its involvement in the biosynthesis of heme, an iron-containing component of haemoglobin (the substance in blood that carries the oxygen involved in energy production).
Choline is an essential nutrient related to the water soluble B vitamins; it promotes brain health and focus.
It is the precursor to acetylcholine (neurotransmitter important for communication between neurons in the nervous system), and is a structural component of cell membranes. Choline is also an important source of methyl groups and can be oxidized to the methyl donor betaine which is needed for the conversion of homocysteine to methionine. High homocysteine levels have shown association with prolonged lower cognitive performance.
Choline deficiency in rats was shown to result in brain mitochondria dysfunction and impaired cognition, indicating the need for choline by the brain for its normal functioning.
Studies indicate choline plays a role in the development of memory. In humans, higher concurrent intake of choline associates with better cognitive performance (verbal memory and visual memory) according to a 2011 study of 1391 dementia-free subjects (aged 36-83) selected from surviving members from The Framingham Heart Study Offspring Study cohort. High remote choline intake associated with little to no WMHV (volume of white matter hyper-intensity which associates with Alzheimer’s disease and impaired cognitive function). This means that choline taken years before associated with less incidence of impaired cognition in this cohort.
Choline is important for the communication between motor neurons and control of skeletal muscles and a 2015 placebo-controlled, double-blind study of 28 individuals showed participants performed better at rapidly hitting targets more centrally with ingestion of choline. Changes in pupil size (a cognition-sensitive biomarker) suggest that choline uptake alters cholinergic functions in the nervous system. According to the authors, this is the first scientific evidence for a rapid change in the nervous system and behaviour after choline ingestion and indicates choline’s wide-ranging effects on cognition.
Choline directly affects nerve signalling and cell signalling; by producing quicker reaction times and reducing the time needed for mental processing, choline may help exercise performance. These beneficial effects of choline may relate to its ability to help the body to absorb fats which are then incorporated into the cell membranes helping to provide structure and signalling capacity.
Cinnamon has been used traditionally as both a spice and an aromatic with health-giving properties. A 2012 review of the pharmacological activities of cinnamomum cassia (the form most used in the UK for cooking and most studied for its health-giving properties) found multiple actions for the spice including anti-inflammatory, anti-diabetic, antioxidant, liver-protecting, anti-ulcer, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-gout, anti-cancer and anti-HIV activity.
Cinnamon is possibly best known for its effect on blood sugar regulation; cinnamon makes insulin work better so may help control blood sugar. Animal studies show cinnamon has direct anti-diabetic potency. In humans, cinnamon may improve blood sugar regulation but the effects are quickly reversed without regular consumption.
Cinnamon may aid exercise recovery because it may reduce inflammation and oxidative stress and it eases muscle soreness. In an assessment of 115 foods, cinnamon was found to have some of the most anti-inflammatory actions and, in a study of 60 healthy trained women aged 13-25 cinnamon and ginger were found to reduce muscle soreness from exercise.
Antioxidant properties of common spices used in foods were compared by Murcia, et al. (2004) who found cinnamon exhibited better ability to scavenge superoxide than the others tested. Antioxidants are important because they respond to free radicals and damage which may result from energy production and are therefore highly generated in exercise. Animal studies show increased total antioxidant capacity and protection with cinnamon supplementation during endurance training.
Cinnamon may also be an effective anxiety-reducing agent as it was reported to regulate serotonergic and GABAergic systems in mice and a recent 2016 animal study on both mice and rats demonstrated antidepressant activity of cinnamomum cassia attributable to a rise in serotonin levels.
VITAMIN B BLEND
The eight (official) B vitamins work together synergistically as a complex. They are commonly considered to be ‘energy-giving’ nutrients because they are involved in many enzymatic processes which are essential for energy production. Inositol and choline are ‘unofficial’ B vitamins and are often found in B vitamin complexes.
Commonly given both a number and a name, B vitamins are water-soluble and have important roles in Kreb’s cycle energy production, fat and protein metabolism, brain and nervous system function as well as for healthy hair and skin.
Both riboflavin (vitamin B2) and niacin (vitamin B3) are crucial for the Kreb’s cycle and thus for production of energy. Niacin also has a role to play in enzymes needed for metabolism of fat, carbohydrate and cholesterol.
As well as its role in aiding conversion of fats, carbohydrates and proteins into energy, pantothenic acid (vitamin B5) is also known as the ‘anti-stress’ vitamin and has a role in the structure and function of the adrenal gland.
Vitamin B12 is involved in both energy metabolism and nerve function and deficiency may associate with impaired cognitive function. Vitamin B12 works with folic acid and is involved with the health of red blood cells and the myelin sheath (which insulates nerve cells and enhances transmission of nerve impulses). Deficiency of folic acid (vitamin B9) is linked to depression as well as to other conditions.
Further indication of the importance of B vitamins for mood and brain health is evidenced by the B vitamin deficiency diseases: thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency manifests as beriberi (with depression and psychosis) and niacin (vitamin B3) deficiency as pellagra (with dementia as a primary symptom). Deficiencies of folic acid, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, pyridoxine have all been found in psychiatric patients.
Several B vitamins (B12, B6, folic acid and choline) are involved as methyl donors in homocysteine metabolism. High homocysteine may associate with mood disorders.
In addition to its roles in homocysteine metabolism, pyridoxine (vitamin B6) is involved in a very large number of body processes including formation of red blood cells, proper immune function and maintaining hormonal and neurotransmitter (including serotonin) balance.
Biotin (vitamin B7) is involved in utilisation of glucose as well as breakdown and utilisation of fatty acids in energy metabolism. And biotin may promote healthy hair and nails.
Choline, in addition to its role as a methyl donor, is important for production of the brain neurotransmitter acetylcholine. (See above for further information on choline.) And inositol is required for several brain neurotransmitters including serotonin and acetylcholine. (See below for further information on inositol.)
5-HTP (5-hydroxytryptophan) is a precursor to serotonin, a neurotransmitter and neurohormone (a hormone produced by nerve cells) which is considered to be a mood stabiliser. Serotonin (also known as 5-HT, 5-hydroxytryptamine) is considered to be one our main ‘feel good’ hormones. Deficiency of serotonin is recognised to associate with depressed states.
We make 5-HTP in our bodies from tryptophan, an essential amino acid which subsequently converts to serotonin and then to melatonin (a hormone we produce in darkness which controls sleep/wake cycles and is a primary antioxidant). 5-HTP is approximately 10 times stronger than tryptophan. Unlike tryptophan, 5-HTP cannot be shunted to pathways producing niacin (vitamin B3) or protein and it does not require a transport molecule so doesn’t compete with other amino acids for intestinal absorption.
5-HTP easily crosses the blood-brain barrier and effectively increases central nervous system synthesis of serotonin which may have implication for mood and appetite and pain sensation.
There is some evidence that 5-HTP may improve satiety and reduce caloric intake thus increasing weight loss in overweight individuals. A double-blind crossover study of 19 obese females found decreased food intake and weight loss with 5-HTP. A later double-blinded study of 20 obese patients found significant weight loss, a reduced carbohydrate intake and early satiety with 5-HTP. A further randomised, double-blinded, placebo-controlled study of 25 overweight type 2 diabetics concluded that, by predominantly inhibiting carbohydrate intake, 5-HTP can be safely used to improve compliance to dietary programmes.
The relationship between serotonin and carbohydrate was extensively explored by Wurtman at MIT who, more than 30 years ago, found tryptophan could only arrive into the brain after sweet or starchy carbohydrates were consumed and, that brain levels of serotonin associate with levels of carbohydrate consumed. Wurtman suggests that it is possible that carbohydrate craving may be a reflection of the body’s need for increased brain serotonin synthesis and the accompanying (anti-depressive) mood changes. If this is true then supplementing with 5-HTP may, if it increases serotonin, reduce carbohydrate cravings.
Scientific literature has shown a role for 5-HTP in depressive conditions. A 2013 randomized double-blind study of 60 diagnosed patients compared the effects of 8 weeks supplementation with either 5-HTP or fluoxetine (prozac) showed significant and nearly equal reduction in Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression. This study, alongside others, has shown 5-HTP to have anti-depressant effects equal to that of some medications.
The effect 5-HTP supplementation on production of melatonin in humans has not been determined. According to a study in 1990, availability of 5-HTP in humans may affect synthesis of melatonin, although this study used a saline injection of 5-HTP. Furthermore, although increased melatonin has been reported in sheep treated with 5-HTP, a study of 10 healthy children and 5 healthy adults found no appreciable increase in melatonin after 5-HTP stimulation.
Effect has been found however for use of 5-HTP as an analgesic. A 2009 study found potential use for 5-HTP for pain relief in inflammatory conditions. And reduced brain synthesis of serotonin intensifies some symptoms of migraine indicating serotonin deficiency may contribute to migraines.
With regards to 5-HTP effect on exercise, serotonin synthesis and release (and tryptophan concentrations in the brain) increases during running but the implications for fatigue are not clear.
Note that use of 5-HTP is not recommended alongside some medications and its use as an alternative to prescribed medication should be discussed first with a healthcare provider.
Myo-inositol is one of many stereoisomers (meaning forms which are chemically the same but 3-dimensionally different) of inositol, a vitamin-like substance produced naturally in the body from glucose and often considered to be one of the B complex vitamins. Myo-inositol is the most abundant form in the central nervous system of mammals.
Inositol is a constituent in a signalling system linked to the receptors for neurotransmitters noradrenaline, acetylcholine and serotonin. It plays a role in signalling in the brain and a review of uses of inositol in psychiatry suggests it has therapeutic effects in those illnesses responsive to SSRIs (serotonin selective re-uptake inhibitors), the anti-depressant medications often prescribed for mood disorders. A recent meta-analysis of studies using inositol for depression and anxiety disorders found it may be beneficial. And a double-blind, controlled, random-order crossover study with 20 patients comparing inositol with fluvoxamine (prescription anti-depressant) found reduced number of panic attacks with fewer side effects.
Several studies have shown myo-inositol to be effective in improving the handling of insulin. Both myo-inositol and d-chiro-inositol (another common form) improved insulin resistance and reduced cardiovascular risk factors in conditions with insulin regulation factors: polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), gestational diabetes and in postmenopausal women with metabolic syndrome .
According to Monastra, et al. (2016), d-chiro-inositol contributes to mediation of insulin activity mainly on non-ovarian tissues, whilst myo-inositol shows effects on ovaries mainly by moderation of glucose metabolism and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) signalling. Myo-inositol may also improve ovarian function in other ways. A 2016 comparison study between myo-inositol and metformin in PCOs found similar effect in lowering BMI (body mass index) and insulin sensitivity as well as improving the menstrual cycle.
Dysregulated insulin metabolism is not a female-only issue and whilst many of the studies relate to women, supplementation with a combination of myo- and d-chiro-inositol was found to be an effective strategy for improving glycemic control in type 2 diabetes mellitus in both men and women.
More recently, attention has turned to the use of myo-inositol for male reproductive health. A 2016 study of 62 men show myo-inositol may improve semen parameters in both normal fertile men and those with low sperm count or motility.
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a water-soluble vitamin which has a role in immune health. It is commonly considered to be beneficial for reducing symptoms and duration of the common cold. A 2013 meta-analysis of vitamin C for this purpose showed mixed results from supplementation with the vitamin and found it may be useful for people exposed to brief periods of severe physical exercise. And an earlier review and meta-analysis (45 studies, 1603 subjects) of the effects of exercise on the immune system found vitamin C may prevent upper respiratory tract infections .
The importance of vitamin C for collagen health is evidenced by scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency disease which has caused millions of deaths, preliminary symptoms of which were bruising, spotty skin, bleeding into joints, hair loss and loss of teeth. Collagen is needed for skin, hair, joint and blood vessel health and so effect of vitamin C may be widespread. And the role of vitamin C in wound healing has been known for more than 75 years.
How we look may impact how we feel. Vitamin C, by stabilising collagen and increasing collagen protein synthesis  may help combat skin wrinkling and sun damage. Two studies found higher vitamin C intake to associate with better skin appearance, particularly regarding skin wrinkling .
The distribution of ascorbic acid in human tissue has been determined to be highest in adrenal tissue. By association to adrenal tissue, vitamin C may have effect on stress hormones and feelings of fatigue. (For more information of vitamin C effects see above re Baobab.)
Probiotic is the term often used to refer to ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. These bacteria are important, not just for gastrointestinal health but also for immune and neurological health.
Almost 70% of the entire immune system is located in the gut. Keeping free from colds and infection is an important consideration in both how we feel and in how we perform, impacting work and training schedules.
The nervous system in the gut is referred to as ‘the second brain’, a term coined by Michael Gershon, neurogastroenterolgy expert and author of a book with the same title, who describes the complex nervous system in the gut as having capacity to influence mood and wellbeing. This complex system is technically known as the Enteric Nervous System (ENS) and has been recognised for over 100 years as a system that can work autonomously from its connection with the brain. The ENS exerts its effects on gut behaviour, independently of the brain.
Recent evidence in studies of mice shows high correlation between physical and emotional stress generated by exercise and alteration in gastrointestinal microbiota composition. Probiotics, by altering the environment of the gut may impact gut behaviour.
Another way probiotics and mood may link is through serotonin. The major source of bioavailable serotonin in humans is located in the bowel, specifically in enterochromaffin (EC) cells. Animal studies show potential antidepressant properties of Bifidobacteria infantis possibly associated with a rise in tryptophan, the amino acid which can convert to serotonin. And Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG was found to upregulate serotonin transporters and proteins in mice.
In humans, stress is known to alter gut microflora, lowering lactobacilli and bifidobacterium levels. A hypothesis has been suggested in relation to major depressive disorder that probiotics may affect inflammation and oxidative stress and may lead to increased brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance that promotes the growth of new neurons.
Inulin is a type of water-soluble dietary fibre composed of fructans (chains of fructose molecules). Recognized benefits of dietary fibre include modulation of gastrointestinal transit time and fecal bulking. This means less constipation and less diarrhoea.
Inulin converts to short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) in the gut  with prebiotic effect. This means that, although it is not digested or absorbed by the body, inulin promotes the growth of gut bacteria. Inulin particularly promotes the growth of ‘good’ bacteria bifidobacteria. Short-chain fatty acids ferment fiber in the colon and these SCFAs are the main energy source for the cells lining the colon. By promoting growth of ‘good’ gut bacteria, inulin benefits extend to those of probiotics.
Studies indicate that inulin may improve weight loss. A 2013 randomised triple-blind controlled trial of 49 females found improved glycemic control and increased antioxidant activity with inulin consumption in women with type 2 diabetes. And a 2015 randomized controlled study found both promotion of weight loss and reduced liver fat with inulin. Furthermore, a 2009 randomised double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 48 overweight and obese women found altered hormones affecting hunger and satiety, concluding that supplementation with oligofructose (a type of inulin) has potential to promote weight loss and improve glucose regulation in overweight adults.
As for performance and mood, inulin associates with greater accuracy on a recognition memory task and improved recall performance in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study of 47 participants.
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