Mindy Duncan | Clinical Naturopath
We talk a lot about prebiotics, in fact, you can read all about them here. But it’s time we expanded on this topic & broke it down even further. Resistant starches, a type of prebiotic, have been a topic of conservation for some time now & for great reason. Research has been surfacing of the greater important, or more so, necessity of including these resistant starches in the diet & the results are looking truly remarkable!
What is Resistant Starch?
Resistant starch is defined as a type of starch that has the capacity to resist digestion within the small intestine and thus, reach the colon where it is then fermented by the colonic bacteria & turned into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs). It’s this SCFA production that appears to be responsible for the many benefits ascertained from consuming resistant starches including reduced inflammation & improve cellular function within the colon.
What does Resistant Starch do?
Research over the past decade or so has been mounting about the influence that the gut microbiome has over chronic illness such as metabolic syndrome, obesity, even anxiety & depression, linking poor digestive health & microbial balance as a significant risk factor in the onset of these conditions.
This area of research is continuously developing so there is still a lot to uncover about the microbiome but what we do know is that to nurture the microbiome we need to feed it properly and feeding it with resistant starch appears to incredibly powerful!
As with all dietary fiber, resistant starches share a number of the same benefits including:
- improved faecal weight, motility & visceral sensitivity, essential for eliminating toxicity and waste from the body
- reduced gut pH in order to create an environment which inhibits the growth of pathogens & cancerous cells
- modulation of gut bacteria in favour of beneficial species
- improved gut immune function & inflammation reduction
- enhanced absorption of essential minerals such as calcium
More specific (& exciting) benefits of resistant starch include:
Short Chain Fatty Acid (SCFA) Production
Short chain fatty acids including butyrate, propionate & acetate are produced during resistant starch fermentation and are essential to a number of processes, including;
- acting as a primary energy source for cell in the colon. In fact, 70% of the ATP (energy) produced by the colon cells is due to butyrate.
- help to reduce the gut pH in order to create an environment which inhibits the growth of pathogens & cancerous cells.
- stimulate colonic blood flow, tone & nutrient absorption
Improve & Regulate Blood Glucose & Insulin Sensitivity
Insulin resistance & dysfunctional blood sugar are significantly on the rise & now being linked to a number of health concerns namely obesity, metabolic syndrome & brain degenerative conditions.
Recent research has confirmed that resistant starches are able to play a regulatory role on blood glucose levels in a number of ways via:
- production of SCFAs
- modulation of the gut bacteria, in-favour of beneficial species such as Bifidobacteria & Lactobacillus
- altering bile acid signalling which regulates hepatic (liver) lipid, glucose and energy homeostasis, essential in reducing the risk of liver disease, obesity & type 2 diabetes.
- altering adipose (fat) tissue immune modulation which has significant influence over adipose tissue inflammation & adipose tissue homeostasis.
Brain Protective & Cognitive Enhancing Properties
Resistant starches have also been shown to have brain protective properties, this is thought to occur via:
- improved communication between the microbiota-gut-brain axis
- improved glucose uptake by the brain, the brains main energy source
How do I consume Resistant Starches?
Resistant starches comes in a number of different forms and are relatively easy to incorporate into your daily regime. If you’re new to resistant starches always start small, adding 1 small serving into your diet each day, too much too soon may cause you to feel bloated and uncomfortable. As your gut gets used to it, you can gradually increase your intake.
Foods which contain resistant starches include:
- Green (Unripe) Banana Flour – a fantastic flour substitute for cooking & baking
- Cooked & Cooled Starchy Foods (i.e. rice, potato)
- High-amylose maize starch (supplemental)
- Coarsely ground grains
It you would like to know more about resistant starch always feel free to pop in and chat to one of our knowledgeable staff! Alternatively you can book a consultation with one of our practitioners for a more detailed approached.
For bookings please click here.
Research – Wanna Learn More….Have a read!
- Butyrate, neuroepigenetics and the gut microbiome: Can a high fiber diet improve brain health? (2016) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0304394016300775
- Resistant Starch Intakes in the United States (2008) http://www.valemaisalimentos.com.br/material/2.pdf
- Resistant Starch can improve insulin sensitivity independently of the gut microbiote (2017) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5294823/
- The role of adipose tissue immune cells in obesity and low-grade inflammation (2014) http://joe.endocrinology-journals.org/content/222/3/R113.full
- Resistant Starch Alters the Microbiota-Gut Brain Asix: Implications for dietary Modulation of Behaviour (2016) https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4706316/