Resistant starch, what is it, where do we find it, and do we need to make a conscious effort to add it into our diet? Most people have heard of starch but not many are aware of the resistant form unless of course you are involved in the Paleo or primal world. For those of you that have never heard of it, let me explain.
… some of the scientific studies that I have come across show resistant starch can improve the integrity of the gut wall, otherwise known as leaky gut.
Resistant starch is an insoluble fibre that does not go through digestion in the small intestine, it carries on down to the large intestine where it acts as a dietary fibre. There are different categories of resistant starch:
- Resistant Starch Type 1 – found in indigestible plant cell walls, in beans, grains, and seeds.
- Resistant Starch Type 2 – found in potatoes, bananas, and plantains it is indigestible in its raw state and accessible when heated.
- Resistant Starch Type 3 – starch that has been cooked and then cooled, this then changes the structure making it more resistant to digestion. This is the type that is getting all of the attention in the Paleo and primal world.
- Resistant Starch Type 4 – doesn’t occur naturally and has been chemically modified.
Why are people starting to include this in their diet? Well, we know that probiotics add healthy bacteria to our gut which in turn keeps our immune system in check. Resistant starch is known as a prebiotic and a prebiotic will feed and nourish the good bacteria. Good bacteria in the gut are responsible for the production of butyrate a short chain fatty acid – butyrate is the energy source for your colon cells.
Reports on the conscious use of resistant starch are mainly anecdotal but there are some scientific reports available. I experimented myself a little with adding in pure potato starch to my daily routine – I’m not sure if I noticed any difference but then again I wasn’t entirely sure what to look out for. It felt a little strange adding in a strange substance with not much flavour, it almost seemed a little extreme so that journey didn’t last long. It’s easy to get caught up in the latest research – you read something and think it is amazing and want to try it right away. Perhaps from a personal point of view I needed to document my findings better, I just don’t think the interest was there.
I enjoy eating good whole nutrient dense foods and don’t want to become obsessed with extra supplements. I eat for health and vitality, gone are the days when I shovel down food just to fill the tank. However some of the scientific studies that I have come across do show interesting findings. One suggests that resistant starch can improve the integrity of the gut wall, otherwise known as leaky gut.1 A more popular known piece of research shows that it can also reduce fasting blood sugar2 an aspect that type 2 diabetics will be particularly interested in looking into. Resistant starch isn’t broken down into glucose within the bloodstream like an ordinary starchy carbohydrate therefore there is no spike in insulin.
One important point worth bringing up is the fact that if you already have digestive upset, or you believe you have bacterial overgrowth, taking extra resistant starch may not be advised. You could basically end up feeding the wrong bacteria. So I would suggest if you are experimenting to ensure that your digestive health is good.
Some examples of resistant starch you could experiment with:
- Green bananas.
- Cooked and cooled white rice.
- Raw potato starch.
- Raw potatoes.
- Cooked and cooled potatoes.
- Tapioca starch.
I don’t know about you but this list isn’t the most appealing of foods. I have blended up the odd green banana in a smoothie and I do love making plantain chips. Other than that these aren’t particularly foods that I would consume daily. Is it worth making the effort to include them for their benefits? I think I’ll leave that up to you to experiment and report back.
I think when a particular food or supplement like this is brought to light people get very excited but like I always say there is no magical ‘superfood’ that fixes all ails. However it is exciting to see it has potential improvements in the diabetic world but if you don’t have diabetes and follow a whole food lifestyle do we really need to worry or obsess over adding in weird and wonderful ‘superfoods’. Of course we could very well be having resistant starch in our diet without even really realising or focusing on it and that’s great if it is well tolerated. I think the jury is still out on whether we need to be consciously adding it in.
Do you include resistant starch in your diet? If so have you found the experience beneficial? Leave a comment below – we’d love to hear your thoughts!
- Morita, T., Tanabe, H., Sugiyama, K., Kasaoka, S., Kiriyama, S., et al. (2004). Dietary resistant starch alters the characteristics of colonic mucosa and exerts a protective effect on trinitrobenzene sulfonic acid-induced colitis in rats. In Bioscicence, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry. Retrieved August 20th from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15502362
- Park, O.J., Kang, N.E., Chang, M.J., Kim, W.K., et al. (2004). Resistant starch supplementation influences blood lipid concentrations and glucose control in overweight subjects. In Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology (Tokyo). Retrieved August 20th from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15242012