Meet Mark

Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...

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November 11, 2013

Dear Mark: Resistant Starch, Zinc Deficiency, and Something New

By Mark Sisson
140 Comments

FloursFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter. In the first section, I discuss the extremely hot (and then allowed to cool off) topic of resistant starch, explaining who might benefit from it, who might not, and where you can find further information on the subject. Second, I briefly go over how a zinc deficiency might arise and how you can address it on a Primal eating plan. The third section is bit of a surprise, featuring a very special guest writer. Since this is text and you guys can just skip ahead to see who it is, there’s admittedly very little suspense. But still. It’s a surprise that I think you’ll enjoy and appreciate.

Let’s go:

What about so-called resistant starch, that is, starch that passes undigested through the stomach but arrives in the colon? There’s some emerging evidence that the good bacteria that live in the colon need to feed on this starch in order to thrive. In other words, if everything is processed by the stomach and small intestine, the good “microbiome” is underfed, and the bad guys can multiply. An unhealthy microbiome may be tied to all sorts of auto-immune diseases. Do we need some resistant starch in our diets?

Resistant starch has really been making waves in the Primal health community. Lots of talk in the MDA forums and elsewhere.

So what’s the deal?

Resistant starch is a starch that resists digestion by regular digestive enzymes, passing through to the colon for fermentation by gut flora. In a post way back in the day, I addressed resistant starch and lumped it in with other prebiotic fibers like inulin, with the reasoning being that while it was certainly helpful and important, it was not some essential, magical nutrient. It seems I underestimated it. Resistant starch offers some interesting properties unique among other prebiotics.

Remember that starch post from a couple week’s back where I compared the fiber content of the kind of wild tubers our ancestors would have encountered to modern cultivated tubers? Much of the “fibrous material” would have been resistant starch, a highly efficient, durable method of energy storage for a plant’s underground storage organ. In the wild, where a plant isn’t protected from pests by agricultural chemicals or physical barriers, resistant starch makes sense. And so when we ate these tubers, we’d get a nice dose of resistant starch, particularly if we ate them raw or undercooked (cooking degrades the majority of resistant starch into regular old highly digestible starch).

Before agriculture, our ancestors obtained resistant starch and other fermentable fibers by eating a diversity of wild plant foods, bulbs, corms, tubers, cattails, cactuses, and medicinal barks – foods that by and large are not available to us nowadays (and if they were, they wouldn’t be very desirable or delicious). According to some estimates, they consumed up to 135 grams of fermentable fiber a day, and their gut flora would have reflected that. Nowadays, the most common sources of resistant starch in the modern diet (PDF) include various legumes, raw oats, and even certain types of bread that’s been frozen for 30 days. Raw potatoes, green bananas, and raw plantains are also quite high in resistant starch, but few people are eating them in their raw state. It’s much more delicious to cook them. We also have reliable means to cook our foods well enough to break down most of the resistant starch, like microwaves, ovens, and stoves. So, the result is many people following a Primal lifestyle – avoiding legumes and grains while cooking and reheating their starches – are also missing out on an important source of prebiotics and, perhaps, optimal gut health.

There’s a quandary, then. Resistant starch seems to promote ancestral-esque gut health and floral composition. How do we get resistant starch without foraging for wild foods or eating ungodly amounts of legumes, raw grains, and previously-frozen bread (thus incurring many of the negative aspects of these foods, like gut-damaging lectins, phytic acid, and/or gluten) or raw plantains and potatoes?

Unmodified, raw potato starch is probably the easiest way to get resistant starch, since each tablespoon contains about 8 grams of RS. Richard Nikoley has spearheaded the promotion of resistant starch via unmodified potato starch as a way to approximate or emulate the ancestral microbiome over at his blog. He’s been covering the benefits and relaying lots of anecdotes from readers who’ve seen great improvements in sleep quality and blood sugar control, even when diabetic or while remaining in ketosis). He even came up with a way to make mashed potatoes that don’t spike your glucose. Interesting, compelling stuff.

I think it’s worth trying. Potato starch is only about $4 or $5 a bag (less if you order in bulk on Amazon), mixes well in water or smoothies without much of a taste. Start with a teaspoon or two and work your way up to as many as four tablespoons. Expect flatulence as your gut flora acclimatize to the influx of this food.

Anyone with digestive issues, particularly FODMAP intolerance or IBS, may want to exercise caution as fermentable carbohydrates often irritate or exacerbate those issues. On the other hand, there’s preliminary (and mostly theoretical, as it hasn’t been directly tested) evidence that resistant starch may actually treat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth by “flushing” the pathogenic bacteria out in the feces. Adding resistant starch to the rehydration formula given to cholera patients, for example, is an effective treatment because the cholera bacteria attach themselves to the starch granules almost immediately.

Anyone else try this? What have they noticed?

I attended a nutrition study course over the weekend and several vitamin deficiencies were discussed. Each delegate was also given a vial with a stopper of zinc solution to test ourselves for deficiency. I basically could taste nothing and despite being on an ancestral diet for over a year now, am apparently zinc deficient, which is worrying. I just wondered whether the zinc taste test had any merit? On a side note, this has since led me to investigate the whole nuts/phytic acid binding minerals issue and despite soaking and drying my nuts, I consume WAY too many which may be the cause of this deficiency if it indeed exists. Thanks for your attention to this matter.

Michelle

The zinc test definitely has merit. In a study of pregnant women (whose zinc levels tend to drop as the pregnancy progresses), the accuracy of the zinc taste test ranged between 70-100%. Overall, the results of the test correlated strongly with zinc status. I see no indication that the test is only valid in pregnant women; anyone who’s deficient enough should qualify.

The nuts could be a problem. Low to moderate amounts (an ounce or two a day) aren’t an issue in the context of a nutritious Primal way of eating, but eating “way too many” will eventually impact nutrient absorption via phytate binding because, unfortunately, zinc is susceptible to phytate.

Meanwhile, adding phytase (which degrades phytate) to zinc-rich foods increases the absorption of zinc. It’s pretty clear that excessive phytate is a problem. How much phytate? I don’t have a hard figure for that, but being deficient in zinc despite eating Primally is a good indicator.

So, what should you do?

Eat enough selenium. It’s responsible for regulating the delivery of zinc to zinc enzymes throughout the body for proper zinc metabolism. Seafood like wild salmon is a good source of selenium. Eggs, too. And the very best of all is the Brazil nut. One or two Brazil nuts should get you to the RDA for selenium without giving too large a dose of phytate.

Make sure you’re actually eating enough zinc, of course. Oysters, red meat (beef, lamb, bison), and scallops are some of the richest sources.

Limit sources of phytate. Stick to the ounce or two of nuts per day, not however many you were eating previously. Consider subbing in some macadamias, which are among the lowest in phytates, and keep soaking the nuts you do consume (not mac nuts, though).

When you do eat phytate-rich foods, give yourself a couple hours in either direction before eating zinc-rich foods. This shouldn’t be too tough, since nuts are snacks more than meal components. It does mean that your oyster sliders on almond meal bread might not be a good option, sadly.

Eat zinc with animal protein. Studies show that animal protein can counteract the inhibitory effects of phytic acid on zinc absorption (PDF). Luckily, zinc usually comes with animal protein already attached. Handy!

Account for excessive sweating. Sweating is a good thing, usually, because it indicates vigorous physical activity, but it also depletes zinc. You may need to account for sweating by eating more zinc.

Supplement. In my view, Krebs cycle intermediaries (citrate, fumarate, succinate, etc.) are going to be your best bet for zinc.

Now for the surprise…

I get a lot of questions from women, and for the most part they’re very general, straightforward, and applicable to men, too. But there are times when a uniquely female perspective (that I simply cannot provide) would come in handy. Since I frequently bug Carrie for advice on this question or that one, I figured why not have her contribute directly to the blog and answer reader questions? She’s already done reader question roundupsdiscussed cellulite, and talked hot flashes in the past and she has a level of expertise on some topics that I don’t. In addition to being smart, beautiful, fearless, and kind, Carrie has a Master’s degree in Spiritual Psychology from the University of Santa Monica and serves as a group leader at intensive weekend spiritual psychology retreats on a monthly basis. She has participated in retreats in Los Angeles, and as far away as Norway. Carrie is hard at work on her long-awaited book, Primal Woman, which is due to be published in the fall of 2014.

Without further ado, let me introduce Carrie.

Mark, I really wish you would’ve addressed women’s cycles and necessary starch for menstruation. So many women lose their cycles only eating berries and salads. I know I did. Add back in a sweet potato, some bananas, and yes even some white potatoes and white rice. BAM! Flow city. ;)

Carrie here. I’m not Mark but I can handle this question.

First off, thanks for your question.

Personally, I never really had this issue, even though I’ve always been pretty active, because I always made sure to eat enough food. Not too much, not too little, just enough to keep me full, help me recover, and maintain my hormone levels. The only time I ever had any issues with my cycle was when I was on a strict low-fat, “heart healthy” diet full of whole grains and other starchy carbohydrates while doing tons of cardio. Of course, I wasn’t really Primal until menopause, so I can’t really say that it wouldn’t have happened if I’d been eating this way back then. That said, the research shows that the biggest variable for regular menstruation is sufficient calorie intake. Not sufficient potatoes, rice, or bananas. Not carbs. Calories. You need them if you want to maintain a normal cycle. Your body needs to know that you’ve got energy coming in before it decides you’re ready to conceive.

Study after study shows that dieting can have a negative effect on the menstrual cycle. Let’s go through some of the research.

Like here, a 1000 calorie high-carb diet caused menstrual irregularities. Women who lost the most weight (had the biggest energy deficit, in other words) had the most irregularities. All that starch wasn’t enough to overcome a super low calorie intake.

Or here, where a vegetarian diet caused 7 of 9 women to stop ovulating, while just 2 out of 9 women in the non-vegetarian group did. Both groups lost the same amount of weight (though they don’t give a calorie count), so it was something about the vegetarian diet, not just the energy balance.

Another study showed that an 800 calorie vegetarian diet disrupts menstruation. In fact, vegetarianism seems to be especially linked to menstrual cycle disturbances (although not so much in healthy, weight-stable vegetarian women eating adequate amounts of nutrient-dense food).

They’ve even found that something called a “drive for thinness” (which I’d never heard of) is strongly associated with disrupted cycles because it leads to huge energy deficits – too much exercise and not enough food.

See the common thread? Low calorie intake. The literature is rife with examples of young, healthy women losing their period after going on a low-calorie diet, whether high-carb or not. And that calorie requirement goes up the more you exercise, which is why the “female athlete triad” – excessive energy imbalance, loss of period, and bone weakening – is a common affliction.

That’s what jumps out at me when people talk about adding in sweet potatoes to jump start their cycle: they’re adding calories to their diet. They’re not substituting potatoes for something else. They’re adding it to whatever else they were eating, resulting in a net increase in calories, and that’s fixing the issue.

If carbs are the only way you can add enough calories to your diet to restart your cycle, then go for it. But it’s not a quality inherent to the carbs. It’s just the energy they provide. The calories. I hope this helps and I will also share about some other self-honoring choices I made during my cycle that I will post in a future column.

Keep the questions coming, folks. Carrie’s agreed to chime in every Monday, so send along any questions you might have for her, too. Thanks for reading!

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140 Comments on "Dear Mark: Resistant Starch, Zinc Deficiency, and Something New"

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[…] For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter. In the first section, I discuss the …read more […]

Dale
2 years 10 months ago

Interesting question about the zinc. From the study you linked it doesn’t seem like sweating should affect it too much, I agree that it’s probably an intake or phytic acid issue.

However this has prompted a new question for me, which is, is it necessary to get tested for deficiencies regularly, and if so what intervals make sense?

Meagan
2 years 10 months ago

The zinc test works. If you taste it, your deficient; if it tastes like water, you’re not.

Miriam
2 years 10 months ago

I think it’s the other way around. If you taste it you’re not deficient (tastes nasty); if it tastes like water then you are deficient.

Joshua
Joshua
2 years 10 months ago

I guess I’m not zinc-deficient then. I use a cold-eeze spray and that stuff is plain awful! But it works!!

Paleophil
Paleophil
2 years 10 months ago

Cold-eeze is not the same as a zinc tally test. Even though I test as deficient on the test, cold-eeze lozenges still taste pretty nasty to me.

Paleophil
Paleophil
2 years 10 months ago

Correct, and if the zinc tally liquid tastes sweet, then you’re VERY deficient.

Both the zinc tally taste test and resistant-starch rich foods are tools in my Primal toolbox.

The zinc tally test helps me keep my zinc levels up and the RS improved my blood sugar control.

michelle
michelle
2 years 10 months ago

That was my understanding from the taste test: water, no taste-deficient, like sucking on a metal pipe- NOT deficient, furry taste in mouth, on the border.

Sharon T
Sharon T
2 years 10 months ago

I have a question.. how do you use toe RS? Besides smoothies which I do not like, can you put RS in cooked foods? Thanks 🙂

Meagan
2 years 10 months ago

Miriam – Yes! Oops, I mixed them up. If it tastes like water then you’re deficient. If you have adequate levels of zinc it should taste horrible!

gibson
gibson
2 years 10 months ago

Three very interesting topics! Thank you. I need to mull them over a bit. I look forward to hearing more from Carrie on Mondays. 🙂

NDB
NDB
2 years 10 months ago

I’m going to have to disagree with the claim that starchy carbs are necessary for healthy hormonal function and menstrual regularity. While a very low calorie intake does play a very significant role in the loss of menstruation for all women, there have been studies that show that for some women eating at maintenance but eating a diet low in or void of starchy carbs will cause menstruation to become irregular or stop completely.For those women, an appropriate caloric intake AND appropriate starchy carb intake is necessary.

janelle1122
janelle1122
2 years 10 months ago
I agree. Especially since looking at PCOS:Unlocked, the manual by Stefani Ruper, I’ve learned that “thin” PCOS or PCOS without insulin resistance or obesity is often due to stress on the body, and one way to remedy it is to eat more carbs (along with sleeping more, exercising more efficiently, etc). I have started incorporating more carbs into my diet, while still eating the same amount of calories because I track them on myfitnesspal (shame on me, I know) and not really sleeping more because i’ve always slept 8-10 hours a night, and my cycle has gone from being so… Read more »
Catherine
Catherine
2 years 10 months ago

Just wanted to clarify if you’re equating having ‘thin’ PCOS to not being insulin resistant? Or just that some women with ‘thin’ PCOS aren’t insulin resistant?
Many people who are thin, such as thin diabetics or women with ‘thin’ PCOS, are also insulin resistant. Not being overweight does not keep people from being insulin resistant, unfortunately.

janelle1122
janelle1122
2 years 10 months ago
No, I am saying that people often refer to PCOS in which the person does not have insulin resistance as “thin PCOS” because that person typically doesn’t fit the PCOS-stereotype of having metabolic syndrome. I know that thin people can be insulin resistant. I guess the clearer term to use is just non-insulin resistant PCOS, which seems to affect thin or normal weight women more than overweight ones. It’s also called type II PCOS since it is stress induced, rather than insulin-resistance induced. I do concede that limiting carbs can help those with insulin-resistance to regulate their cycles, but the… Read more »
JenR
JenR
1 year 3 months ago
@janelle1122 I know this is a bit late to address, but the reason PCOS symptoms become worse with a high animal protein diet is because of the lactic acid within the meat. There are only four natural instances where your body will become insulin resistant for a good reason. They are: Pregnancy Breast Feeding Healing of Tissue or Muscle damage (natural lactic acid build up) Stress The meat, when slaughtered, has a high amount of lactic acid develop. When ingested, this lactic acid in high amounts can mimic our production of lactic acid and in-turn increase insulin resistance. The only… Read more »
Nin Daniela
Nin Daniela
2 years 10 months ago
I think you are just not fat-adapted yet and cutting your carbs caused stress to your body that still can’t use the calories from fat well. As I am allergic to most plant foods, I have been eating low carb since being a kid. The only time when my cycles stop is when I change my diet and add more starch from potatoes or sugar from chocolate. I also get cramps and mood swings when eating more carbs… Your body is probably stressed because of the sudden change and adding more carbs is a good thing until you are fully… Read more »
janelle1122
janelle1122
2 years 10 months ago
Nope, I’m pretty sure I was fat adapted, as I had been eating a 70% fat, 25% protein, 5% carb diet for 5 years, averaging 30 g of net carbs a day. I’m pretty sure cutting my carbs for five years isn’t a sudden change that my body is responding to, but is rather a chronic stressor that impeded normal hormonal production. In fact, my PCOS symptoms only became apparent after I adopted a low carb diet ad gradually became worse the longer I stuck to restricting carbs. That only made my periods worse. And now that I recently bit… Read more »
Colleen
Colleen
2 years 10 months ago

I believe you! I feel great and in control at 75-100g carbs, and it seems to help calm my urge to overeat while still allowing a serving of starch and a serving of fruit a day. I’m very happy here.

John
John
2 years 10 months ago
I’ve noticed a few things really improved my Fasting Blood Sugar. The first two were primal eating, and magnesium supplementation. I think the magnesium really helped a lot. I also lowered by iron stores through blood donation. Even with all those, my FBG would still be in the high 90s or low 100s when I measured it, and it could spike to 160 or so after a higher carb meal. When I added the resistant starch, in the form of Bob’s Red Mill Potato starch, it lowered FBG to the low 90s/high 80s area, and when I tested a fairly… Read more »
Shary
Shary
2 years 10 months ago

Supplementing with zinc can be problematic since zinc will block copper absorption. Best to get it from food unless one is very deficient. Trace minerals are intended to be just that. Adding more through supplementation can disrupt the body’s natural chemical balance.

Dirk T
Dirk T
2 years 10 months ago

I had a zinc deficiency for years and NO dietary changes helped it. None. The only thing that helped was a zinc supplement. There are zinc supplements that include copper so no worries there.

poing
poing
2 years 10 months ago

Same here. I became zinc deficient while eating plenty of red meat and going gluten free didn’t fix it. The first time I supplemented zinc, I had vivid dreams. Now I dream whenever I eat red meat… so I reckon things must be improving.

Paleophil
Paleophil
2 years 10 months ago
And same here too, zinc-rich foods like red meat and oysters did not resolve my moderate zinc deficiency, nor did trace minerals, which were way too low in zinc to make a dent in my deficiency. Only high-quality zinc supplements helped. I wish it were otherwise. I’m working hard to find a way to improve my body’s ability to absorb zinc and other minerals so I won’t need supplements. In the meantime, thank goodness for zinc supplements. Some people like me have chronically high copper levels and need to reduce them rather than maintain or increase them, So zinc supplements… Read more »
Aria
Aria
2 years 10 months ago

I’m highly interested in potato starch. I make smoothies all the time so it would be easy to incorporate. Question… you say unmodified, raw potato starch. Would the stuff I can get at the healthfood store be good or is it modified in some way? You say it’s cheap though so I’m thinking the stuff from the bakery section would be just fine. Info please?

Graham
Graham
2 years 10 months ago

Bob’s Red Mill potato starch says unmodified on the package, which means raw.

tatertot
tatertot
2 years 10 months ago
Use any kind of potato starch sold as food. Just make sure it’s not potato flour, that won’t work. Normally the package will say ‘unmodified’. In Europe the terms ‘potato starch’ and ‘potato flour’ are used interchangeably, but not in US. By ‘Raw’, we mean ‘not cooked’. Take it right from the bag and dump in your smoothie. It also mixes well with kefir, yogurt, or water. Has no taste. Start with 1TBS and work slowly up to 4TBS over a month or two. If you get gassy, that’s OK, it means your gut flora is adjusting–just cut dose in… Read more »
Aria
Aria
2 years 10 months ago

And now a comment… I do think carbs play some part in menstrual cycles. A couple weeks ago I couldn’t get enough squash. I made squash and sweet potato casseroles three times in a row. Then my cycle started. Coincidence? I think not. 🙂 But even when I ignored any cravings for carbs I still had my cycle, so I would agree that calories are more important.

Colleen
Colleen
2 years 10 months ago

I guess my only question here is how do you *know* it was the carbs and not the extra calories? Did you literally switch one out for another and hit the same calorie count via tracking?

I honestly wonder. Thanks 🙂

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[…] Daily Apple / Posted on: January 01, 1970Mark’s Daily Apple – For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter. In the first […]

Graham
Graham
2 years 10 months ago

I’ve been doing a cycling approach with the potato starch for about 6 months now–1-2 weeks on, 1 week off, and it’s been really good. Definitely a noticeable adaptation period, whether you’re sensitive to FODMAPS or not, so be ready for that. I’ve been experimenting with opposite-week cycling of fermented foods as well (sauerkraut, kombucha, yogurt), since having both the pre- and probiotics every day can become a bit voluminous…

Fi
2 years 10 months ago

During three months in ketosis I always got my periods regularly. Like Carrie, when I did low fat higher carb I didn’t, so I’m going to have to agree with her that overall calorie intake is the key factor. I also happen to think that fat is important for women for the metabolism of hormones, especially oestrogen.

Karen
Karen
2 years 10 months ago

Agreed. I’ve eaten 30g or fewer a day of carbs for a few years with no adverse effects to my cycle. In fact, it has become even more regular and predictable and cramping and mood disturbances have disappeared.

Sofie
Sofie
2 years 10 months ago

Same here, even going for 3 months with no carbs whatsoever. I’d imaginge that a lot of women trying paleo are still afraid of fat, which would lead to too little calories.

oxide
oxide
2 years 10 months ago

I must be an oddball, because my cycles become less frequent with exercise, no matter what or how much I eat.

Adam
2 years 10 months ago

Foraging for your resistant starches isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Broadleaf cattail, for instance, is found all over the world and native to all U.S. states except Hawaii, where it is introduced. A quick Google search for the plant images will help with identification. And what’s more Primal than eating the real foods (aka wild foods) of our ancestors’ time?

Lynda
Lynda
2 years 10 months ago

Burdock root is also a great and easily found source of prebiotic starch as are sunchokes (Jerusalem artichoke). Just be careful if you want to grow your own suncokes as they are a very very weedy plant and will take right over wherever you plant them.

Daniel
Daniel
2 years 10 months ago

Yes indeed! Calling it prolific does not do this plant justice!

Wenchypoo
Wenchypoo
2 years 10 months ago
Speaking of superior colonic health, Hubby has it–he just had a colonoscopy this morning, and passed with flying colors. I had mine last July, and also passed easily. In both cases, the doctors were freaked out by the ketogenic diet we both answered on the questionnaire where it said LIST DIET. Also, we were both instructed to increase our fiber intake–how do they know what our current intake is? I don’t think anybody eats more avocados or coconut flour baked goods than we do! We’re also on the verge of eating lard with a spoon to be sure we get… Read more »
Tina
Tina
2 years 10 months ago

+1 on sticking it to the revolving medical door.

Laurie
Laurie
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t eat a lot of nuts, but do go overboard at times on nut butter, usually sunflower nut butter mixed with some coconut oil (yummy!). Do nut butters also have phytates??

TheNewMe
TheNewMe
2 years 10 months ago

Yes — lots. Sorry. Nut butters are even more dangerous than nuts for some people, because it is so easy to go overboard and consume an amount in one sitting that our ancestors would have had to work very hard for. All we have to do is unscrew a lid and BAM, there it is.

Laurie
Laurie
2 years 10 months ago

Thanks so much for the info. Bummer! Yes it is waaay too easy to load up on nut butter.

LoBro
LoBro
2 years 10 months ago

But sunbutter is a seed butter, not a nut butter… Does that make a difference?

michelle
michelle
2 years 10 months ago

I think so, they’re not usually soaked and there’s not guarantee soaking gets rid of phytates. Mark had an article from Chris Kessler about not going “nuts on nuts!
http://chriskresser.com/another-reason-you-shouldnt-go-nuts-on-nuts
They are so “more-ish” though. sigh…

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[…] you, sir! So go check out the whole post and the references he links to. And for those interested in the whole collection of posts on the topic of Resistant Starch here, […]

Karl Nilsson
2 years 10 months ago

I’ve supplemented with 30mg Zinc daily for ~3 years and definitely noticed positive effects, mainly my skin looking much better (used to have a bit of acne), and almost never getting a cold.

Warning with Brazil nuts: I tried having 5-6/day since they are delicious, but got acne breakouts, which disappeared when I stopped eating them. 1/day seems to be fine though.

Kati
Kati
2 years 10 months ago
I have eaten my way through about 2 lbs of raw, unmodified potato starch in the past 3 weeks, around 4 TBSP a day, in cool or lukewarm food and drink, plus dehydrated (very green and hard) plantain chips dried at about 95 F for 12 hours (thank you, TaterTot!!!). I eat the plantain chips kind of like you would ritz crackers with butter, creamed coconut or nut butter sandwiched in between. Way easier than making a baked primal cracker from nut or coconut flours and probably healthier. I have noticed even at vlc ketogenic carb levels (excluding the amount… Read more »
Josh
Josh
2 years 10 months ago

Does anyone know if Arrowroot starch would be as good as potato starch?

Graham
Graham
2 years 10 months ago

Not as starchy–there’s a link in the article…check out the series thus far at freetheanimal.com….

Josh
Josh
2 years 10 months ago

Nice one, thanks Graham!

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 10 months ago

I’m wondering if you could add the potato starch to coffee in the morning. Butter, Coconut oil, egg, starch and coffee?

Nocona
Nocona
2 years 10 months ago

MMMMMMM, that sounds horrible!

Becky
Becky
2 years 10 months ago

I think the heat from the coffee would damage the potato starch. It’s supposed to be uncooked, raw potato starch.

tatertot
tatertot
2 years 10 months ago

Only if the coffee is cold. Heat destroys raw RS.

Junkgrl
Junkgrl
2 years 8 months ago

I drink my RS in water when I take my frozen raw liver “pill”s. The slight taste of the RS water gives me another barrier to actually tasting the raw liver. All good.

John
John
2 years 10 months ago

I would avoid adding potato starch to hot beverages, if you are looking to increase your resistant starch intake. Heat breaks them down, and will make them more digestible. It’s somewhere around 140 degrees F where this occurs. You could try it in an iced coffee, if you like.

Jen
Jen
2 years 10 months ago
Thanks again, Mark and Carrie, for the wealth of information and research you provide for those of us who want to know. After a couple of years so far on my Primal path, I was (yet again) highly enlightened by today’s RS post and links. Just one more piece to add to the puzzle. As I have been avoiding all starch at all costs, I now understand the butyrate connection MUCH better and realize that my Kerrygold can’t do the whole job. I’ll be starting the RS TODAY. My favorite takeaway from Richard Nikoley was this: “The rather hilarious thing,… Read more »
tatertot
tatertot
2 years 10 months ago

For another perspective on the importance of RS, please read: http://drbganimalpharm.blogspot.com/2013/11/fat-burning-beast-sugar-burning-gut.html

Jen
Jen
2 years 10 months ago

Thanks Tatertot, I’ve been reading yours and others very informative comments on FTA, very helpful info. I bought the Bob’s RM PS today, going to start slow like Mark says. The more I learn about my 90%, the more I want to help them be all they can be.

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[…] For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter. In the first section, I discuss the extremely hot (and then allowed to cool off) topic of resistant starch, explaining who might benefit from it, who might not, and where you can find further information on the subject. Second, I briefly go over how a […] Mark’s Daily Apple […]

phreebie
phreebie
2 years 10 months ago

It’s coming into summer here. My favorite time to head to the rivers, lakes and beaches to soak my nuts.

Hanna
Hanna
2 years 10 months ago

When I cook I’ve always mumbled here and there on the raw veggies.
Always told I was weird for eating the potato raw.
At least I know it’s not a bad thing!

dave
dave
2 years 10 months ago

Please ALWAYS properly ferment potatoes before cooking them. There are so many reasons for the proper fermentation of potatoes before consuming. Traditional cultures never ate potatoes, grains, legumes, etc. without first preparing with 100% anaerobic fermentation methods.

Paleophil
Paleophil
2 years 10 months ago

I have indeed found sources supporting that tubers were traditionally fermented at least some of the time, such as these:

“Taro and related tubers are found throughout the tropical world–in Africa, the West Indies and Poly-nesia. Explorers discovered that the natives ate root vegetables after they had been buried in the ground and fermented for several days to several months.” – Sally Fallon, Nourishing Traditions, p. 102

Tocosh (Fermented Potatoes), http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tocosh

Paleophil
Paleophil
2 years 10 months ago

And fermentation increases the resistant starch content of foods that contain RS.

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[…] For today’s edition of Dear Mark, we’ve got a three-parter. In the first section, I discuss the extremely hot (and then allowed to cool off) topic of resistant starch, explaining who might benefit from it, who might not, and where you can find further information on the subject. Second, I briefly go over how a […]… Mark’s Daily Apple […]

Chris
Chris
2 years 10 months ago
Interesting question and answer about the menstrual cycle stuff. My cycles had gone to a consistent 30 to 35 day routine for years (starting in late teens when I went vegetarian and low fat, through my 20s as I continued to gain weight to the point of obesity despite routinely pinning myself down to conventional diets – super low fat! high healthy grains! more rice!! – and through two pregnancies.) The only time in all those years I had a shorter cycle was if I was on hormone birth control pills. I have slowly become more primal over the last… Read more »
marielleGO
marielleGO
2 years 10 months ago

On a survival pov it’s only logical that women loose their cycle when eating too little.
It’s your body’s reaction to a chronic shortage of food. It thinks you’re starving and concludes that there isn’t enough food to feed on. So a fetus won’t get enough nutrition without harming the mother, nor could a young child survive without a certain amount of food.
And a tribe low on food would only be harmed by the arrival of an other child. Better to hold off reproduction untill better times.

La Frite
La Frite
2 years 10 months ago
Hey guys, Don’t forget the retrograded starch! The raw one is the so-called type 2 (RS2) which gets destroyed above a certain temperature and moisture level (typically while cooking it). But cool it or freeze for at least 24h, some of the destroyed RS2 will retrograde into the type 3 starch (RS3). Repeat this process a few times and you increase the amount of RS3 albeit the first time around is the most effective step. RS3 resists heat as well so you can stir-fry the cooled potatoes or basmati rice. i often do this myself as I am not a… Read more »
Donna
Donna
2 years 10 months ago

So…what you’re saying is that LEFTOVERS…are a GOOD THING?!..Then hurrah for RS3-rich foods!!

La Frite
La Frite
2 years 10 months ago

Yes, it is a GOOD THING 😀
I often use a little duck fat or bacon dripping to stir-fry some basmati rice that I had cooked the day before. What I don’t eat will be stir-fried again after another night of cooling.

2Rae
2Rae
2 years 10 months ago

So that sticky rice made into sushi rolls after it gets cold is good? Hmmmm. Sounds better to eat that once a week instead of mixing potato starch into water, but I like sushi rolls so….
I stopped eating them once a week so that I wouldn’t get so much carbs but maybe now and then it’ll be added into my diet again.

tam
tam
2 years 10 months ago

As I understand small intestinal bacterial overgrowth from Allison Siebecker, it is good commensal bacteria in the wrong location, moved from the large to the small intestine. I don’t think trying to treat it with resistant starch would be a good idea.

tatertot
tatertot
2 years 10 months ago

This is why RS is NEEDED in SIBO, not AVOIDED:

On the other hand, there’s preliminary (and mostly theoretical, as it hasn’t been directly tested) evidence that resistant starch may actually treat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth by “flushing” the pathogenic bacteria out in the feces. Adding resistant starch to the rehydration formula given to cholera patients, for example, is an effective treatment because the cholera bacteria attach themselves to the starch granules almost immediately.

Paleophil
Paleophil
2 years 10 months ago

Tam, If you can provide any studies to support this notion that RS worsens SIBO, rather than helps it, I’d greatly appreciate it. For months I’ve been begging the people who make the claim to provide supporting evidence, with no luck so far. Instead, they tend to go silent when I ask this. I eat RS-rich foods, so if the risk is real and the evidence is out there, I want to know about it. Thanks.

tam
tam
2 years 10 months ago

I don’t know any studies. Here’s the audio from Allison Siebecker’s AHS’13 talk about sibo being beneficial bacteria moving to the small intestine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0sOmCLW58GI

Norm Robillard thinks rs is bad for sibo:

http://digestivehealthinstitute.org/2012/08/sibo-diet-and-digestive-health/

I suppose if it’s not worsening your symptoms, you don’t have to worrry? I get very hungry in the middle of the night, if i have potatoes for dinner.

Paleophil
Paleophil
2 years 10 months ago

Thanks for the audio. Norm is one of the people I asked for studies from with no luck so far.

Paleophil
Paleophil
2 years 10 months ago
Potatoes give me problems too, but not raw potato starch. Resistant starch is nothing like ordinary starch. I find RS to be safer than “safe starch.” Ordinary “safe starch” for me is not safe at all. Cooked or raw ripe plantains are also a problem for me, but not RS-rich dried raw green plantains (yes, they’re edible if dried a few days, though bland). The difference is dramatic. I was skeptical about RS myself until I tried it. Check out the tons of info that Otzi has provided on RS in the forum here and elsewhere. He answered every concern… Read more »
Norm Robillard
1 year 7 months ago

Hey Paleophil, I believe you have read my two part pros and cons blog article with the studies you requested, but for others here’s the link.

http://digestivehealthinstitute.org/2014/03/24/resistant-starch/

shannon
shannon
2 years 10 months ago

Adding a lot of greens (fibrous) to your diet should help the “good” intestinal bacteria, I would think. Last night I ate 8 cups of kale (measured before cooking), and my turd was perfect this morning. (TMI?)

shannon
shannon
2 years 10 months ago

I should add that I also eat fermented foods: my own homemade pickles, kombucha, etc. Met Sandor Katz last weekend at a workshop on fermentation: fun! He gave us all some of his miso.

leida
leida
2 years 10 months ago

How on earth do you ferment the potatoes before cooking?

dave
dave
2 years 10 months ago

It’s easy.

Jeff Blackman
Jeff Blackman
2 years 10 months ago

Mark, I would welcome your views on the so-called Superstarch contained in the Generation UCan supplement. Peter Attia has come out strongly in support, but there is a great deal of debate raging on low-carb and paleo discussion boards. As my son is a dedicate athlete I am always on the lookout for healthier ways to have him prepared for and recovering from intense physical competition. Thanks!

Joshua
Joshua
2 years 10 months ago

Obviously I’m not Mark, but from the info I’ve seen, Superstarch is at least partially made up of resistant starch, possibly like the stuff in Hi-Maize, another proprietary starch.

Elenor
Elenor
2 years 10 months ago

Am I the only own who finds potato starch to have a really strong potato taste? I mix my 4 TBL of the RS with strawberry-flavored kefir (and some strawberry-flavored Splenda-sweetened fruit drink) and a bit of cream, MCT oil, unsalted Kerry Gold, and coconut oil; then kinda slug it down…Not my fav drink, but acceptable… But I notice a strong potato taste. Anyone?

Linda
Linda
2 years 10 months ago

I wonder if you are using potato flour rather than potato starch? I find even in plain water it has very little taste.

Joshua
Joshua
2 years 10 months ago

Nah Elenor, I get it too. I started with the Kefir, etc. but I’ve shifted to mixing it with as little water as possible – as little as 1 oz per tablespoon and chugging that, the following that up with a chaser of the Kefir, etc.

I don’t mind the potato flavor, but I prefer it on its own rather than messing up my other flavors.

ValerieH
ValerieH
2 years 10 months ago
I attended a lecture on metabolic typing from a clinician who works with many patients that are metabolically damaged. He said that the macro-nutrient ratios change for some women during the course of their cycles. I forgot which part of the cycle needed more carbs. For some women, they need more carbs during part of the cycle and in other parts of the cycle they eat fewer carbs. This discussion was in the context of someone who is a mixed type, leaning towards a protein type. The majority of his patients are protein types and mixed types. He says that… Read more »
Dee NH
Dee NH
2 years 10 months ago
Perfect timing on the Resistant Starch info as I became aware recently of high blood sugar after a year of primal/VLC eating and wondering how to lower it. I have spent hours reading here and at freetheanimal.com (thanks for the link) and I’m sold. Thanks for all your research and communication on this topic tatertot. I’m glad you never gave up commenting on the MDA guest article in January! And I’m glad Mark finally chimed in with this positive entry. Here’s a suggestion for all though – please consider finding a source for organic potato starch as I did at… Read more »
Montagu
Montagu
2 years 10 months ago
Apparently pomegranate seeds, if ingested, are a good source of insoluble fiber. http://healthyliving.azcentral.com/pomegranate-seeds-good-you-16865.html “One cup of pomegranate seeds contains about 7 grams of dietary fiber, most of it water-insoluble.” Apparently “In the Middle East and India, pomegranate seeds are often dried and ground into a powder that’s added to meat dishes” (the powder is called anardana). The fruit is rich in potassium, magnesium, and antioxidants. The berries explode pleasantly in the mouth while chewing them gently, and are tastier than bottled pomegranate juice from the store (unsweetened and unpasteurized). Fresh pomagranates take a while to open up, but I find… Read more »
Trish
Trish
2 years 10 months ago
My menstrual cycle was irregular (and often non-existent) for about 15 years – from the time of my first cycle until I switched my diet form SAD to Primal/Paleo. Doctors tried but couldn’t help other than the usual doses of progesterone or birth control pills. Some suspected PCOS although I didn’t have any of the other typical PCOS symptoms. But, about 1 month into going Primal/Paleo my cycle regulated and for the first time was on a 28-32 day cycle. It was a pleasant, unexpected, surprise. I’ve always been active, and have always eaten a lot. So, my calorie intake… Read more »
Eliezer Yudkowsky
Eliezer Yudkowsky
2 years 10 months ago
CITATION NEEDED: I can’t find any authoritative reference for either (1) a direct measurement of RS in retail unmodified potato starch or (2) a retail potato starch like Bob’s Red Mill (unmodified) being made from uncooked potatoes. The only official account I could find stated explicitly that Bob’s Red Mill potato starch is made from cooked potatoes: http://blog.bobsredmill.com/featured-articles/getting-gastrointestinally-groovy-prebiotics-and-probiotics/ As far as I can tell, all assertions on FreeTheAnimal, PerfectHealthDiet, and all other paleo/primal/etc. come from a common source and single commenter, tatertot, who said that his belief was based on a science paper but did not give any references. Tatertot,… Read more »
Mike Ede
Mike Ede
2 years 10 months ago

http://lib3.dss.go.th/fulltext/Journal/J.AOAC%201999-2003/J.AOAC2002/v85n5(sep-oct)/v85n5p1103.pdf

Page 1105 puts Native potato starch at 63% and page 1109 puts the dry weight % at 72%.

Eliezer Yudkowsky
Eliezer Yudkowsky
2 years 10 months ago

That paper specfied the origins of everything commercially available. “Native potato starch” came from a company called Avebe in the Netherlands, which specializes in possibly exotic starches, with no obvious retail purchase method. We know that raw potatos are high in RS, but this paper doesn’t yet tell us whether Bob’s Red Mill, or any other retail starch, is made from uncooked potatos.

Mike Ede
Mike Ede
2 years 10 months ago

Readily available in the UK.

http://www.dlsne.co.uk/store.php/products/roquette-potato-starch-x-25kg

“Native” potato starch in this context means unmodified. I assumed that this meant raw / uncooked but I can find no references to support this, I have however asked Avebe the question directly. Whilst this may not help you (I assume you are based in the US?) maybe it will help people in Europe.

Alice
Alice
2 years 9 months ago

I’d be interested in an answer to this, too.

Harriet
Harriet
2 years 10 months ago
While the calorie point about regulating menstrual cycles is definitely right – if you’ve been cutting carbs, you need to make sure they’re replaced with something else! – I don’t feel like that’s the whole story. I remember seeing a while ago on a Dear Mark a woman asking if it mattered that she and a friend increased their primal carbs on the run up to menstruating, and he linked a study suggesting that it becomes more efficient to release energy from glycogen stores than fat stores at that time (from what I remember!). For myself, I’m still not a… Read more »
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2 years 10 months ago

[…] What is resistant starch and how can it help improve your health? […]

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[…] [Mark's Daily Apple] Dear Mark: Resistant Starch, Zinc Deficiency, and Something New […]

Midgy
Midgy
2 years 10 months ago
I feel quite certain potatoes have helped me. for the last few years, I was getting diarrhea or loose stools (sorry for the TMI), and it kept getting more and more often. to the point of I was scared to apply for a different job because I would get urgency that comes out of nowhere, and I literally have just minutes to get to the restroom. I even went 100% gluten free in March, which did not help. I’ve went dairy free for 30 days (and remain “mostly” dairy free since then) and that didn’t help. anyways, a couple months… Read more »
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[…] I have also used sweet potato flour instead of the unmodified potato starch but after reading this article on Mark’s Daily Apple, I switched to unmodified potato starch for the added benefit of this type […]

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[…] or less paleo myself, but I’m always open to new body hacks, and this one seems logical. As Mark Sisson noted recently on his blog, by some estimates, our ancestors consumed up to 135 grams of fermentable fiber daily, via “a […]

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[…] were Mark Sisson's RS mention, Dr. BG's RS blogs, Chris Kresser's interview with Jeff Leach, and the thousands of supportive […]

Cheryl
Cheryl
2 years 9 months ago

Does anyone have any idea if potato starch can be used in people with nightshade sensitivities? I can’t eat regular potatoes.. I assume I cannot eat potato starch, but do not know. Thank you.

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[…] the effects of lots of potato flour on his blood glucose. He’s discovered some cool stuff, and Mark Sisson and Chris Kresser picked it up. Now it’s all over the Paleo […]

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[…] the effects of lots of potato flour on his blood glucose. He’s discovered some cool stuff, and Mark Sisson and Chris Kresser picked it up. Now it’s all over the Paleo […]

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