Most of us are well aware of the benefits that probiotics have on our health, in particular our gut health. But have you ever considered the importance of prebiotics in the human diet? One form of prebiotic that is often overlooked is resistant starch (RS). Resistant starch is a type of food starch that remains intact through the stomach and small intestine, reaching the large intestine (colon) in its whole form. So as the name suggests, RS is resistant to digestion by the host.
So what does this mean for us?
When RS reaches the large intestine, it begins to ferment and colonic bacteria break it down into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs). These SCFAs are the main source of nutrition for the friendly bacteria in the gut and therefore promote healthy gastrointestinal function, improve gut mobility and decrease the risk of leaky gut and inflammatory conditions of the bowel. Due to the indigestible nature of RS, it can also improve insulin sensitivity and lower blood glucose levels, whilst obtaining close to no calories.
Like any other organisms, bacteria found in the gut require nourishment and certain food types are more superior than others. RS is the highest quality food for your gut bugs, however consideration must be made when choosing food sources.
There are 4 types of resistant starch, some good and some not so good:
- Type 1 RS: starch bound within cell walls, found in grains, seeds and legumes. Some of these foods can cause digestive issues in many individuals due to processing methods and the gluten content, therefore this type of RS is not ideal for everyone.
- Type 2 RS: intrinsically indigestible starch due to high amylose content, found in foods such as green (unripe) bananas and raw white potatoes. This type can also be found in a powder form, such as green banana starch or unrefined potato starch. This is a great option, just make sure you opt for unrefined and natural powders that are made from the type of RS in isolation and no other added ingredients.
- Type 3 RS: formed after one of the above starches have been cooked and rapidly cooled such as cooked and cooled sweet potato, potato or white rice. This is a very cost effective method of consumption and a great way to begin testing out RS.
- Type 4 RS: industrial starch that has been chemically modified and should be avoided at all times.
With that being said, we are not giving you the permission to eat a bowl of potato salad and eat carbohydrates that have been cooked and cooled in excess, and consideration must be made when adding RS into your diet as it can quite the balancing act. Start with very minimal amounts, for example half a teaspoon in powder form (Type 2) and increase as tolerated, aiming for 1-2 tablespoons per day. Alternatively, add in 1/2 cup of cooked & cooled sweet potato or white (Basmati) rice (Type 3) into a main meal 2-4 times per week and increase as necessary. That way you can to avoid symptoms such as bloating or gas which can often be a side effect if not consumed correctly.
The Hungry Microbiome provides a great interpretation at the molecular level.
If you need further guidance on how you can incorporate RS into your diet or if you need assistance setting nutrition and body composition goals, with an effective plan to follow, please book your appointment online here or contact firstname.lastname@example.org for enquiries.
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