Our food is like secret Santa, you never know what you’re going to get. Go buy a package of “vegetarian” hotdogs. Vegetarian means no meat, right? Yeah, be sure to check the package, a lot of those veggie meals have milk fat and eggs. 

And that’s the point. Nowadays what’s in your food may shock you. Like this stuff, ever heard of “inulin?” I haven’t. They’re calling it a “stealth fiber” and its heavily used in processed foods like chocolate and breakfast bars.

Inulin is a fiber that occurs naturally in wheat and fruits and vegetables, like bananas, onions, and garlic. Most people can break it down, turning it into energy for the body, but for other individuals it causes stomach aches and bloating.

So a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association aimed to gauge the effects of inulin on healthy people. Researchers gathered data on 26 healthy men and women, ages 18 to 60, after a night of fasting, once a week for five weeks. Participants were then fed a breakfast of a bagel with cream cheese and orange juice. To spice things up, the scientists mixed a placebo or a 5 or 10-gram dose of two commonly used inulin products into the orange juice.

And results showed most healthy people can tolerate up to 10 grams of native inulin and 5 grams of the “sweet” inulin per day. One brand of popular breakfast bars has 9 grams of the dietary fiber. Scary stuff!

Common symptoms of inulin-related discomfort include flatulence, stomach cramps, constipation, and “GI grumbling.”

I don’t like messing with Mother Nature like this. If someone has difficulty processing inulin in natural foods, that’s fine, just consult a doctor and develop a diet to avoid it. But when food producers sneak it into a breakfast bar, some unsuspecting inulin intolerant person is going to have a rough Monday morning at the office.

Food additives have gone berserk, everything from drowning crops in pesticides to pumping cattle full of antibiotics. Dr. Frankenstein would be proud.