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How Potato Starch Can Make You Happier, Healthier and Thinner

Is it really possible to improve your metabolism and blood sugar, optimize your microbiome and lose weight by eating starch?

Well, that’s what new research is showing, and the findings are quite impressive.

You see, over the past few years there have been hundreds if not thousands of studies linking gut health problems to a wide variety of diseases. 

Problems like obesity, systemic inflammation, bowel disease, depression and anxiety have all been linked to an unhealthy microbiome.1, 2, 3, 4 

And one of the most effective ways to support a healthy gut is to eat specific foods that help nourish your gut bacteria. Foods known as prebiotics. 

Here’s Why You Should Add
Resistant Starch To Your Diet

Now I know what you’re thinking. Isn’t starch bad for you? 

Actually, science is now showing that humans are largely starchivores and thrive with starch in the diet. The healthiest and longest living populations on the plant have a diet largely comprised of starch.

You see resistant starch is a type of starch that your body doesn’t digest in either the stomach or the small intestine. Instead, your gut bacteria process it, creating beneficial molecules that help balance your blood sugar and promote healthy gut bacteria. 

That’s why it’s called resistant, because it resists digestion and reaches the colon fully intact.

And because it resists digestion, it doesn’t spike your blood sugar or insulin levels and best of all it isn’t a significant source of calories.  

Resistant starch comes in three types, four really but the fourth is a synthetic form that we don’t recommend. So, we’ll stick with the three that we do. 

Type 1: This type of resistant starch is physically inaccessible. That’s because it’s bound inside the fibrous cell wall of the plant. Examples include grains, seeds and legumes.

Type 2: This type of resistant starch has a high amylose content, making it indigestible in the raw state. Examples include, potatoes, unripe bananas and plantains. When cooked the starch changes, making it digestible. Therefore, it’s no longer resistant.

Type 3: This type of resistant starch is also called retrograde. It forms after type 1 and type 2 resistant starches are cooked and then allowed to cool. After these foods are cooked and cooled they can then be reheated at temperatures below 130 degrees while still maintaining their benefits.5 If the food is heated above 130 degrees it then converts back to a form that is digestible. This makes it unable to support your healthy gut bacteria. Good examples are cooked and cooled parboiled rice, cooked and cooled potatoes, and cooked and cooled (soaked or sprouted) legumes.

Resistant Starches Can Boost Your Health

Resistant starches are really what are called prebiotics. And prebiotics come in a variety of forms. Things like inulin from chicory or Jerusalem artichokes, the soluble fiber in psyllium or plants high in amylose such as potatoes, green bananas and plantains.   

Think of resistant starch as compost or “mega-fertilizer” for the healthy bacteria in your gut. 

Using prebiotics in the form of resistant starch is a great way to help rebalance your gut flora. They love to eat it and as the resistant starch enters your gut, hundreds of different species of bugs digest and/or ferment the starch. Through this process, the good bugs in your gut create a variety of beneficial compounds. 

Plus, it increases the population of good bugs, so they eventually outnumber the bad. And those good bugs create what are called short-chain fatty acids which fuel your colon cells. 

One of these fatty acids is called Butyrate, which has been shown to prevent cancer, boost your metabolism and decrease inflammation. 

This heals your gut as it prevents the problems of leaky gut that can drive food allergies, increase inflammation and promote weight gain. 

And as gut health improves, your digestion will also improve allowing maximum nutrient absorption. 

When good bacteria flourish they also replicate. As they do they produce vitamins, regulates hormone production, rid your body of toxins and creates healing compounds that keep gut health optimal. 

When there is an overpopulation of bad bacteria and yeast however, your system becomes overloaded with toxins called lipopolysaccharides (LPS) that in turn cause inflammation, insulin resistance, blood sugar issues and weight gain. 

Resistant starch can also help with insulin sensitivity and help reduce blood sugar immediately after meals. 

One study showed that taking 15 to 30 grams (about two to four tablespoons) of potato starch improved insulin sensitivity and fat loss in overweight men.6

Studies have also shown that resistant starch can provide cardiovascular benefits too.7 

For example, researchers have discovered that adding resistant starch to your diet optimizes triglycerides and cholesterol levels while  also decreasing fat.

The fact is, when you add prebiotic rich foods like resistant starch to your diet you help improve gut health. This in turn promotes better overall health and weight loss. 

How Potato Starch Can Make You Healthier

Potato starch is a great resistant starch to add to your diet. Primarily because it’s well tolerated by most people. 

However, stay away from potato flour. It’s not recommended. Instead a brand like Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch is a great source of resistant starch, containing about eight grams of resistant starch per tablespoon.

Is Potato Starch The Next
Great Weight Loss Miracle?

Resistant starch may provide several benefits that may help you lose weight. 

Including, lowering blood insulin spikes after meals, reducing your appetite, and decreasing fat storage within the fat cells. 

It might also help preserve your lean body mass.8

There have also been studies linking changes to the microbiome of obese individuals shifting towards that of someone who is lean.9

In several animal studies, diets high in resistant starch slashed total body fat by anywhere from 8% to 45%—and those losses often came mostly from visceral fat, otherwise known as belly fat.

And in a notable human study, researchers found that when people who got as little as 5% of their total starch intake from resistant starch increased their fat burning capabilities by as much as 25%.

And finally, resistant starches like potato starch reduce hunger throughout the day and left people feeling satisfied longer after meals.

4 Easy Ways To Add
Resistant Starch To Your Diet

  1. You can mix potato starch into a glass of water or cold almond milk. It has a mild potato taste and provides a quick and easy way to start adding resistant starch to your diet. 
  2. Eat foods high in prebiotics. Things like acacia gum, raw chicory and dandelion leaves into salads. Enjoy green bananas, Jerusalem artichokes, onions, garlic and leeks every day.
  3. First cook, then cool your starches. Doing so changes the way starches are processed in your body. It also stimulates good bacteria and stabilizes your blood sugar. 
  4. Consume a variety of complex carbohydrates. If you want your gut to be healthy you need to eat a variety of nutrient dense and fiber-rich foods. Things like broccoli, eggplant, zucchini, green beans, and asparagus. The good news is there are a variety of ways to prepare them, so you’ll never get bored. 

The Downside Of Adding
Resistant Starch To Your Diet

As healthy as resistant starch is for gut health there is a downside.

The good news is that its temporary and well worth it. 

When you begin to change the bacteria in your gut you cause what’s called the die-off effect and it’s when good bugs begin to overtake the bad bugs. 

The resultant turf war can create gas and bloating. But once your system adjusts, it happens with less frequency. 

To ease into it, try adding just two tablespoons of resistant starch to your diet each day. 

As good bugs reclaim your gut, the die-off will lesson and eventually you won’t experience it’s effects at all. 

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References:

1. Flint, Harry J. et al. "The Role Of The Gut Microbiota In Nutrition And Health." Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology 9.10 (2012): 577-589.

2. Roberfroid, Marcel et al. "Prebiotic Effects: Metabolic And Health Benefits." British Journal of Nutrition 104.S2 (2010): S1-S63.

3. Tarantino, Giovanni. "Gut Microbiome, Obesity-Related Comorbidities, And Low-Grade Chronic Inflammation." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 99.7 (2014): 2343-2346.

4. Dinan, T. G., and J. F. Cryan. "Melancholic Microbes: A Link Between Gut Microbiota And Depression?." Neurogastroenterology & Motility 25.9 (2013): 713-719.

5. Leszczyñski, Waclaw. "RESISTANT STARCH – CLASSIFICATION, STRUCTURE, PRODUCTION." POLISH JOURNAL OF FOOD AND NUTRITION SCIENCES 13/54.1 (2004): 37-50.

6. Birt, Diane F. et al. "Resistant Starch: Promise For Improving Human Health." Advances in Nutrition 4.6 (2013): 587-601.

7. Belobrajdic, Damien P et al. "Dietary Resistant Starch Dose-Dependently Reduces Adiposity In Obesity-Prone And Obesity-Resistant Male Rats." Nutrition & Metabolism 9.1 (2012): 93.

8. Higgins, Janine A. "Resistant Starch And Energy Balance: Impact On Weight Loss And Maintenance." Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 54.9 (2014): 1158-1166.

9. Tarantino, Giovanni. "Gut Microbiome, Obesity-Related Comorbidities, And Low-Grade Chronic Inflammation." The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 99.7 (2014): 2343-2346.

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