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Dr. Magryta: Resistant starch

Dr. Magryta

Resistant starch continues to emerge as a valuable part of a modern diet to enhance gut health.
From Dr. Amy Nett on the Chris Kressor blog – “Prebiotics are indigestible carbohydrates, or at least indigestible to us, that reach the colon intact and selectively feed many strains of beneficial bacteria.  Prebiotics are generally classified into three different types: non-starch polysaccharides (such as inulin and fructooligosaccharide), soluble fiber (including psyllium husk and acacia fibers), and resistant starch (RS).  Each of these types of prebiotics feeds different species of gut bacteria, but among these, RS is emerging as uniquely beneficial.
“Resistant starch is a type of starch that is not digested in the stomach or small intestine, reaching the colon intact.  Thus, it “resists” digestion.  This explains why we do not see spikes in either blood glucose or insulin after eating RS, and why we do not obtain significant calories from RS.”

There are four types of RS foods (see blog). I am going to discuss only the type 3 retrograde RS foods. This group of starches has the ability to change conformation through temperature shifts and therefore become indigestible to our metabolic system after they are heated and cooled. The more they are heated and then cooled the more RS is formed.

I think of a blacksmith making a sword. The iron is heated, hammered and then cooled. Repeating the process hardens the metal in increasing degrees of strength. The same appears to be true with the starch of potatoes, rice and soaked legumes.

“Resistant starches are a special example of this stepwise process, as their molecular structures contain chemical bonds that resist being broken down into simple carbohydrates during digestion, thanks to the presence of relatively high amounts of amylose or amylopectin. While a typical carbohydrate provides 4 kilocalories of energy per gram, resistant starches provide less caloric energy up-front (generally around 2 kcal/g), leaving plenty to enrich our gut microbiome and help it thrive. This gradual digestion and partial use as microbiome food conveys slow-energy release and appetite-satisfying qualities upon resistant starch, both of which can be useful in controlling weight and the glucose and insulin metabolic response.” (Sourced from Dr. Blands’ PLMI Newsletter)

From the health perspective, giving these RS foods to kids will feed the gut bacteria that we need fed, and increase short chain fatty acids like butyrate that feed our intestinal cells known as enterocytes. This is critical to human health by modulating the immune system into a balanced and anti-inflammatory state. There is also some data that these prebiotics have immune-modulating effects that can reduce coronary artery disease risk and damage.
I recommend Bob’s Red Mill unmodified potato starch. Start with 1/4 to 1 tsp daily and work up to 1 Tbsp daily. Some people will experience GI upset and need to take it slow and steady as they right their gut ship. Add it to smoothies or any dish that is less than 130 degrees F.  Also consider other starchy foods like unripened bananas, plantains, yams and yucca for RS.
Keep up the charge of changing your child’s health and life outcome via food and love.
Dr. M
Dr. Chris Magryta is a physician at Salisbury Pediatric Associates. Contact him at newsletter@salisburypediatrics.com

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