This article is purely informational. Please consult with your health care professional to find out if this product is right for you.
I have a keen interest in foods that heal the body and fight inflammation. There is now a lot of research to support that most disease and illness in the body stems from inflammation and a lack of good bacteria in your gut and colon – the home of your immune system.
I recently stumbled across this interesting new golden elixir called Yacon syrup which I have been trialing for the past 3 weeks. It’s claimed that the health benefits of this simple looking syrup include improved bowel and gut function, stabilising of blood sugar levels, weight loss and more.
WHAT IS YACON SYRUP?
Yacon syrup is similar in consistency to molasses but with a more earthy flavour (the flavor to me is like honey with a touch of eucalyptus which I find rather refreshing). It’s extracted from the Yacon roots which look similar to a sweet potato. It grows in the native Andes Mountains of South America where the plant has been eaten and used to treat diabetes as well as helping with kidney and digestive disorders for many years. Now this humble syrup is creating a buzz in the western world.
WHAT ARE THE KEY INGREDIENTS OF YACON SYRUP?
The active ingredients of Yacon syrup are Fructooligosaccharides and Inulin.
Fructooligosaccharides are sugar molecules are connected in a way that makes them unrecognizable by the digestive system so when you eat them they do not break down and get absorbed into the body and at only 20 calories per tablespoon it is considered a low-calorie sweetener.
Inulin is a non-digestible soluble dietary fiber. It is a naturally occurring oligosaccharide (which simply means several simple sugars linked together). This allows it to pass through the small intestine without breaking down where it is then able to ferment and feed the good bacteria in the colon (bifidobacterium).
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF YACON SYRUP?
While studies are ongoing there seems to be a lot of support that Yacon syrup may have the ability to help people lose weight. The theory is, is that when fructooligosaccharides are digested they produce short-chain fatty acids which have an anti-obesity effect and there is also some evidence that fructooligosaccharides can lower the hunger hormone ghrelin, helping to reduce appetite and cravings also.
One 4 month study on 55 obese women found that Yacon syrup delivered significantly more weight loss (15kg/33 pounds) and a decrease in waist size (an average of 10cm/ 3.9 inches. The control group on the other hand gained an average of 1.6kg/ 3.5 pounds with no significant change in waist size. The group taking the syrup also had a drop in Body Mass Index (BMI) from 34 to 28 (From obese to overweight). The Yacon syrup also seemed to cure many of the participants of their constipation with an increase in their bowel movements from 0.28 per day to 0.99 per day due to the inulin.
Gut & Digestive Health
What’s most exciting is that both the fructooligosaccharides and inulin working together seem to have the ability to re-populate the gut with good bacteria and for those who suffer from gut related issues such a Crohns/colitis or other bowel related issues this is a big deal.
A Spanish study concluded that Yacon syrup has the potential to prevent and treat colitis by modifying the intestinal microflora by acting as a prebiotic and by stimulating the growth of the two good gut bacteria - Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium microflora – essentially rebalancing the colon and immune system.
Control Blood Sugar Levels & Cholesterol
Yacon syrup also seems to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. One study reported that fasting insulin levels went down by 42% and insulin resistance - a major risk factor for diabetes and heart disease went down by 67%! That is amazing!
It also had a beneficial effect on LDL (the “bad”) cholesterol went from 137 mg/dL to 97.5 mg/dL (a 29% decrease). Although the trial used a small sample the results are very encouraging.
General Good Health
Other health benefits include that Yacon syrup is also high in antioxidants and potassium and can help the body better absorb calcium too.
IS YACON SYRUP SAFE FOR EVERYONE TO TAKE?
Yacon syrup is generally well tolerated in most people however, as with all things, moderation is the key. It has been reported that some people can experience some side effects (flatulence, diarrhoea, nausea and general digestive discomfort) if too much is consumed at one time and your body is not used to it. (This can also occur if you suddenly up your fiber intake too. ) If you suffer from diarrhea it is suggested that you don’t take this syrup or add it to your diet very slowly and in small amounts. I started with one teaspoon a day and after three weeks have worked myself up to around 2-3 teaspoons.
I would suggest starting with one teaspoon a day and seeing how you tolerate it. If you have any bowel/digestive issues or if your fibre intake is currently low perhaps talk to your physician before you start using it. So far I have not experienced any significant side effects from the use of this product and do I have a very sensitive digestive system.
HOW TO USE YACON SYRUP
Yacon syrup has a lovely flavor and I like to add it to my green or herbal teas. It can also be used in place of sugar or your regular sweetener in your morning tea or coffee. I sometimes add it to my chamomile tea which I drink each night before bed. Gradually week by week you can increase your daily intake to a maximum dosage of between 4-5 teaspoons/2 tablespoons. (Most of the studies used a therapeutic dose of about 20-25 grams of Yacon syrup per day.
In terms of using Yacon syrup medically (weight loss/diabetes etc.) participants in the the study took the syrup 1 hour before meals where the effective dosage may be 1-2 teaspoons (5-10 grams) before breakfast, lunch and dinner. I haven’t used it in this manner but I would love to know if it works for you!
And Last But Not Least…
It is important to note you CANNOT cook or bake with Yacon syrup as it changes the structure of the fructooligosaccharides, essentially making it inactive or of no benefit. Anything over 120°C/248°F destroys the health benefits.
Another thing to keep in mind is that there some of research indicated that as Yacon syrup is a prebiotic it can facilitate the growth of both good and BAD bacteria – depending on the health of your colon so do ensure you are eating a nutritious diet full foods that aid good gut health including yogurt, fermented foods like miso, sauerkraut, kefir as well as wholegrains, fruits and vegetables etc.
Do not be tempted to buy anything less than 100% pure Yacon Syrup, preferably organic, as there shouldn’t be anything else added to it.
*I am not affiliated with any company nor have I been compensated to write this article.