What is a resistant starch, and why should I care?
A resistant starch is a carbohydrate that remains unchanged as it passes through the stomach and small intestine. It is “resistant” to digestion. The resistant starch reaches the large intestine and feeds the healthy bacteria in the gut. This helps to maintain a healthy balance of bacteria in the colon. Gut health has a profound effect on overall health. When the healthy bacteria digests the resistant starch, they form short-chain fatty acids, one called butyrate. Butyrate may block the body’s ability to use carbs as fuel, which means the body will use fat instead.
Resistant starch functions like soluble, fermentable fiber, but the prep method of the food has a major effect on the final amount of R.S. in the food. For example, cooked and cooled potatoes, rice, and corn have high amounts of R.S., but not the cooked and served hot versions of the same foods.
4 Types of Resistant Starches
- Type 1: Found in seeds, grains, and legumes. These resist digestion because they’re bound within fibrous cell walls.
- Type 2: Found in some starchy foods like raw potatoes and unripe bananas.
- Type 3: Formed when certain starchy foods like potatoes, corn, and rice, are cooked and cooled. Through a process called retrogradation, the cooling turns some of the digestible starches into resistant starches.
- Type 4: This type is man made, formed through a chemical process.
Resistant starches Benefits are amazing
- Decreased intestinal permeability, which keeps toxins out of the bloodstream.
- Boosts immune system
- Lowers pH level, puting the body in a more alkaline state. Click to read more about the benefits of an alkaline diet.
- Decreases inflammation
- Improved insulin sensitivity, which helps the body be more efficient at burning fat.
- More stable blood sugar levels
- Less cravings for unhealthy foods
- Noticably improved digestion
How Do I Add Resistant Starch to My Diet?
You might wonder how to add these carbohydrates to your diet while trying to lose weight or adhering to a lower carb lifestyle. The product that I use is Bob’s Red Mill Raw Potato Starch. It has zero digestible/usable carbs and has a very high resistant starch content. It is also very inexpensive and can be found at a grocery store! I recommend starting out with 1/4 teaspoon per day, and work your way up slowly to several tablespoons. It is tasteless, so you can sprinkle it on your food or add it into smoothies.
Other ideas are eating cooked and cooled (cooled for at least several hours) rice, potatoes, or organic corn. Other choices include organic corn tortillas, cooked beans (not canned, but any variety), cashews, plantains, and buckwheat flour.
If you have marked GI distress when adding even a small amount of R.S. into your diet, this may be an indication of SIBO, or small intestine bacterial overgrowth. This means the bad bacteria in your GI tract is out of balance with the good bacteria and a healthy gut microbiome needs to be established. Work with a healthcare practitioner to fix the issue.