Resistant Starch

It is becoming increasingly clearer that health begins in our gut. In the past few years, many studies have link unbalanced intestinal flora to being overweight, chronic inflammatory bowel disease (Chron’s disease and Ulcerative colitis) and depression.

What is the connections between resistant starch and my gut?

Resistant starch is excellent “food” for our bacteria – it belongs to one of the three categories of prebiotics. Prebiotics are carbohydrates that our body cannot digest, therefore they reach the colon untouched and feed our bacteria (the good ones, of course 😉). Not bad, ihuh?

In addition to resistant starch, we know two other types of prebiotics:

  • non-starchy polysaccharides (inulin and fructooligosaccharides)
  • soluble fiber

All three categories retain different types of bacteria, but more and more studies have shown that resistant starch has unique properties.

The name resistant starch means exactly that – it is literally “resistant” to digestion, as it arrives in the colon intact, nor does it cause blood glucose uptake, and when consumed, the body does not absorb many calories.

There are four types of resistant starch:

  1. Type 1: Starch is physically inaccessible, bound inside the fibrous cell wall of the plant (cereals, seeds, legumes)
  2. Type 2: Starch with high amylose content, which is not digestible in the raw state. Cooking these foods causes changes in starch and makes it digestible (potatoes, green (unripe) bananas, plantains)
  3. Type 3: A type of resistant starch that forms when cooking and cooling foods of type 1 and 2. These foods can then be reheated to low temperatures (less than 54 degrees Celsius), thereby retaining the useful properties of resistant starch. Heating to higher temperatures will turn the starch into a form that is digestible for us, instead of “feeding” it to gut bacteria. (cooked and chilled rice, potatoes or chilled, properly prepared (soaked) legumes.)
  4. Type 4: Synthetic form of resistant starch

How resistant starch affects health

Our intestines are home to many different types of bacteria (good and bad). Their number and diversity have a significant impact on our health and well-being.

 

Resistant starch stimulates good bacteria and thus helps to create a healthy balance; with its help, good bacteria produce short chains of fatty acids through the fermentation process – the most important ones are acetate, butyrate and propionate. Especially important is the butyrate because of its favourable effects on the colon.

Butyrate is a preferred source of energy for cells in the colonic mucosa and plays an important role in increasing metabolism, reducing inflammation and improving stress management.

Resistant starch affects the production of butyrate much more intensely than other prebiotics.

Resistant starch helps lower blood glucose and improves insulin sensitivity

Insulin resistance and chronically elevated blood glucose levels are associated with a variety of chronic diseases, including metabolic syndrome.

Several studies have shown that resistant starch can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood glucose levels per portion; In one study, consumption of 15 and 30 grams per resistant starch revealed improved insulin sensitivity in obese men, which is the same as the improvement expected in weight loss, which is approximately 10% of body weight.

How to include resistant starch to our menus

Unripe bananas, plantains, tapioca and cooked-chilled-reheated rice or potatoes are all excellent sources of resistant starch (say yes to a nice cold potato salad in summer 😉). If you stick to a low-fat diet, incorporate only the necessary amount of resistant starch – a tablespoon of tapioca flour to thicken the soup, pudding or a smoothie will be more than sufficient to feed your lovely tribe of gut bacteria.

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