Your microbiome is integral to your health and contributes to immune system development, nutrient bio-availability, and protection from infection. Your bacterial population is heavily influenced by your diet and is an important place to start your gut healing journey. The average Western diet is heavy in typical starches that are rapidly digested and absorbed into the body as glucose. This reaction triggers insulin secretion and over time can contribute to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and obesity.
But, not all starch is created equal. Resistant starch has become a buzzword in the gut health community due to its potential for gut healing. After all, good health starts in the gut!
SO, WHAT IS RESISTANT STARCH?
Most people are familiar with probiotics, which have a variety of benefits towards gut health. But, did you know that those probiotics need to be fed themselves? That’s where prebiotics come in.
Resistant starch is a prebiotic that feeds the friendly bacteria in your gut. The starch is “resistant” to digestion and is therefore able to pass the upper digestive tract and reach the lower intestines. Once in the colon, the starch feeds the good bacteria and crowds out the bad. In addition, resistant starch helps increase the production of short chain fatty acids which lowers the pH of your gut. This makes your gut less hospitable to unwelcome pathogens and bad bacteria. As it resists digestion, it does not spike insulin and promotes blood sugar balance. Resistant starch is an excellent tool for improving gut health.
Some believe it’s actually more beneficial than taking probiotics, because this lets your body do the work itself. Instead of providing the good bacteria, you are feeding your existing good bacteria so they can replicate as needed, facilitating the production of beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Resistant starch and its related metabolites formed in the gut have important biological effects.
BENEFITS OF RESISTANT STARCH
- Reduction of colon cancer precursors, ultimately lowering risk of colon cancer
- Regulation of macronutrient metabolism, helping your body regulate naturally
- Better regulation of hormones in the body
- Increased absorption of minerals and nutrients
- Decreased absorption of harmful toxins
- Increase of beneficial bacteria in the gut
- Increase satiety (eating less overall) and therefore a potential for weight loss
- Lowers blood sugar levels
- Improved insulin sensitivity which decreases risk of insulin related disorders
- Optimizes triglyceride and cholesterol levels
WHERE CAN I FIND RESISTANT STARCH?
Resistant starch is found in unripe starches and is also formed by the cooking and cooling of certain starches. Some of the best sources are cooked and cooled potatoes, rice, and beans. In addition, green bananas and green plantains are great sources. Finally, it can be found in raw potato starch (such as Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch) and taken as a supplement.
ARE THERE ANY CAUTIONS TO TAKE?
Yes, you should start slowly and pay attention to your body. As with any change in gut flora, you may experience adverse detox related symptoms.
In addition, if you take the supplement route (such as potato starch being added to your water) you need to be sure to maintain a high fiber diet. There can be consequences of supplementing with an isolated starch, rather than eating it in a whole food form. Potato starch is commonly recommended as an easy alternative for acquiring resistant starch. But be weary, whole food is always better!
As always, it is recommended to consult a qualified healthcare provider before making any changes to diet or supplementation.
Promote your overall health by optimizing your gut flora with resistant starch! Feed the good and get rid of the bad! Remember, health starts in the gut!