Resistant Starch – The New Superfood?

There has been quite a bit of hype lately about resistant starch.  Ok, maybe not so much among the general public, but certainly among nutrition nerds…and for good reason, it seems.  Resistant starch is a type of fiber that is indigestible, which means it makes it to the small intestine intact, where it serves as “food” for the bacteria living there.  Simply put, the fermentation of the starch in the lower digestive tract produces butyrate, a short-chain fatty acid which suppresses inflammation, improves metabolism, and increases the body’s ability to handle stress.  This is a good thing, as the health of your gut microbiome is a huge determinant of your overall health.  Some are even championing the idea that obesity is at least partially caused by a failure or imbalance of gut bacteria.   Lately, as more attention has been paid to the role of the gut microbiome and various health issues, it has become clear that gut health is tied to almost every other facet of health. Because of this, resistant starch – and truly, anything else that could potentially improve the gut microbiome – is a hot topic.  The evidence is thus far, while still not entirely conclusive, points to resistant starch being very beneficial for health.

For a very thorough explanation of resistant starch and how to use it, check out this page from Richard Nikoley’s site.

For a fascinating look at the role of butyrate and overall health, see this article from Dr. Guyenet at Whole Health Source (one of my favorite blogs).

For studies on the effects resistant starch has demonstrated on gut microbiome/body composition/overall health, see here and here and here (and find a list of  35 studies+links here).

For a more tempered view of resistant starch – particularly in regards to those with IBS or other chronic gut health problems – read this article from the Digestive Health Institute.

For a bit about resistant starch and it’s possible relation to weight loss, take a look at this guest post on Chris Kresser’s site.

The good news is that if you want to add more resistant starch to your diet, it’s relatively simple. You just need to make a point of consuming more of the relatively common foods that contain resistant starch (and be sure to prepare them in a way that maximizes the resistant starch content, such as cooking and cooling potatoes to cause retrogradation).  These food sources of resistant starch include potatoes, rice, plantains, tapioca, yucca, taro, unripe bananas, and the like.

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Plantains in the process of being made into baked tostones. Resistant starch never tasted so good.

You can also look into using supplements, such as potato starch.  If you do choose to use supplements, just don’t scare the cashier at Whole Foods by explaining your digestive experiments to him (speaking from experience here…). When I’ve added more resistant starch to my diet (albeit it’s more of a casual experiment than a grand intervention), it has been beneficial, but nothing too spectacular.  As I experiment more in earnest with resistant starch, perhaps I’ll experience something more noteworthy…and if I do, I’ll keep yall posted.

Oversharing.  It’s what I do.

Discuss:

Have you heard anything about resistant starch before?

What are your thoughts on the benefits of resistant starch? (Anyone with personal experience??)

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2 thoughts on “Resistant Starch – The New Superfood?

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