The Powerful Gut Health Benefits Of Resistant Starch
Fiber, fermented foods, probiotics and colonics.
From flushing toxic poop out of your bowels to eating a little more sauerkraut, there’s lots of talk about how to optimize your gut health.
Yet there’s one thing that’s quite simple and yet often overlooked; RESISTANT STARCH.
Discover the powerful benefits of resistant starch and find out how you can include more in your diet!
What Is Resistant Starch?
As the name suggests, resistant starch is a type of starch. The most common carbohydrate-based foods that people eat, such as grains, pasta, rice and cooked and cooled potatoes contain starches. Some types of starch are resistant to digestion, hence the name resistant starch.
While we don't recommend you go and eat a lot of these foods, as many are highly processed and raise your blood sugar levels too high, there are a range of other foods that are high in resistant starch, won't send your blood sugar sky high, and offer a dose of essential vitamins and minerals too, including:
- Underripe bananas
- Green banana flour
- Beans, soaked and cooked
- Seeds, soaked and cooked
The human digestive system is generally pretty good at breaking down and digesting starch. Our body has enzymes that break up starch from our food into smaller molecules of glucose. This glucose then enters the bloodstream for the cells in our body to use as fuel.Tweet - Eating resistant starch on a regular basis will support healthy populations of friendly microflora.
However, unlike other forms of starch, our digestive system can't digest resistant starch too well! Therefore, it makes its way through the digestive tract largely undisturbed, all the way through to the large intestine. Once it reaches our large intestine, the bacteria in the gut use it to produce some awesome health benefits for your total body!
What Are The Health Benefits Of Resistant Starch?
Resistant starch is a bit like high-octane fuel for the friendly bugs in our gut. They have a feast on the stuff! The resulting benefits to our health are multifold:
1. Resistant Starch Heals The Lining Of Your Bowels
When the bacteria in your gut gobble up resistant starch, these bacteria produce a by-product called butyrate. Butyrate is a short chain fatty acid that is the #1 preferred source of fuel for the cells that line your colon.
In other words, butyrate helps your bowel to stay strong, healthy and fight off cancerous cells. Some research suggests it may even improve blood circulation to the bowel! Butyrate is also absorbed from the colon and into the bloodstream where it may also reduce inflammation systemically.
This anti-inflammatory effect is so potent that researchers are even trialling butyrate supplements to help with inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Crohn’s!
It may also help to explain why bowel cancer is so low in countries such as India and Japan, where overall fiber intake is low but resistant starch intake is high.
2. Resistant Starch Helps Good Gut Bacteria Grow And Proliferate
Hopefully I’ve been clear about how much your gut bacteria love resistant starch. Just like any living organism that’s getting good nutrition, a regular dose of resistant starch gives your gut microbiome the fuel it needs to flourish and multiply.
It’s a good gut bug party!
Eating resistant starch on a regular basis will support healthy populations of friendly microflora. In fact, resistant starch can improve both the number and type of good bacteria in your gut.
3. Resistant Starch May Actually Help With Weight Loss
And you’d heard carbs are bad for the waistline, right?
The great news is, not always! :-)
While this doesn’t mean we should tuck into any old carbs, new evidence suggests that eating resistant starch might offer some metabolic and weight loss benefits, such as better blood glucose control and insulin sensitivity. Also, because resistant starch provides ‘bulk’ with less calories, it can also help you to feel full and reduce your appetite!
4. Resistant Starch Can Help Manage Your Blood Sugar Levels
Insulin resistance is a slippery slope to a number of chronic diseases, yet studies show that by including some resistant starch into your diet, you could improve your insulin sensitivity, decreasing the spike in blood glucose levels after your meal! One study, in particular, showed improved insulin sensitivity in overweight and obese men, equivalent to the improvement expected if they had lost 10% of their body weight! Just by consuming 15-30 grams per day of resistant starch!
The benefits don't just last for one meal either. Researchers have shown a "second meal effect" as well, meaning that if you ate a meal containing resistant starch, your blood glucose and insulin levels may rise less after the subsequent meal too! Fascinating!
How Much Resistant Starch Should You Aim To Eat?
Some experts recommend eating 20 grams of resistant starch each day for optimal bowel health. This is a far cry from the average intake of 6 grams per day in Australia, or 4.9 grams per day in the USA.
This recommendation might sound high, but developing countries that follow a plant-based diet average anywhere between 30 to 40 grams of resistant starch each day!
You can increase your intake of resistant starch by including the foods listed above as part of a healthy, nutrient-rich diet. Please note that it’s important to increase your intake slowly as your belly might not take too kindly to a massive jump too quickly.