Wellness Wednesday: Resistance is Futile
What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘resistant? Do you think of hesitance? Stubbornness? Militant opposition to change? Well, in the case of resistant starch, all of these concepts apply, at least in part. A starch is a long chain of glucose molecules. Most carbohydrates are starches. Simply stated, a so-called ‘resistant’ starch is a starch that resists digestion, due to its chemical makeup and ultimately its physical structure, but that isn’t the cool part- I’ll go into that later. For now, let’s continue with the basics, shall we? There are four main types of resistant starch:
So, here’s the cool part: even though resistant starch is not fully digested, it still plays a significant role in our digestion. Resistant starch is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine, where it is converted into short chain fatty acids (SCFAs), such as butyrate and propionate. In turn, these SCFAs grant us many benefits, including inhibiting the growth of “bad” or pathogenic bacteria, aiding mineral absorption, and discouraging constipation by stimulating blood flow to the colon. But wait, there’s more!
Resistant starch is digested and absorbed more slowly by our bodies than other forms of starch. This means that our bodies secrete less insulin in response and keep our energy levels on an even keel. Resistant starch also absorbs water, making digestion and elimination easier. Best of all, it only has about 2 calories per gram, in contrast to other carbohydrates which have 4 calories per gram. This means that you stay fuller and have more “spare” calories left in the bank for more food (yay).
Resistant starch sounds pretty phenomenal, doesn’t it? If you’re looking at adding it to your diet, here’s how much to aim for, and some quick tips on finding it in foods:
For most people, a diet containing up to 40g resistant starch is well tolerated. Intake above this level can cause bloating and loose bowel movements, so be careful and listen to your guts!
Consume your resistant starch as a part of a meal or snack that also contains protein and fat to promote digestion.
If you decide to go all-in and consume 40g daily, make sure to increase your total intake gradually, as too much at once might cause bloating and/ or discomfort.
In summary, consuming some of your carbohydrates in the form of resistant starch might just help you along the path to improved gut health and weight loss. In clinical trials, benefits have been shown from as little as 6-12g daily. That's plenty easy to get from a good portion of whole plant foods. So enjoy!