Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
26 Mar

The Definitive Guide to Resistant Starch

floursA few years back, I briefly covered a throwaway Yahoo! article about how “carbs will make you lose weight” because so many readers had emailed about it. It turned out that the “carbs” in the article were resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that our digestive enzymes cannot break down. I’ll admit now, with regret, that I didn’t look as deeply into the matter as I might have. I didn’t dismiss resistant starch, but I did downplay its importance, characterizing it as “just another type of prebiotic” – important but not necessary so long as you were eating other fermentable fibers. While technically true, we’re fast learning that resistant starch may be a special type of prebiotic with a special place in the human diet.

Before I go any further, though, a series of hat tips to Richard Nikoley, Tatertot Tim, and Dr. BG, whose early and ongoing research into the benefits, real-world implications, and clinical applications of resistant starch have proved to be a real asset for the ancestral health community. Oh, and I even hear tell that they’re writing a book on the subject. Interesting…

In subsequent Dear Mark articles, I’ve since given resistant starch a closer, more substantial look, and today I’m going to give it the definitive guide treatment.

What Is Resistant Starch?

When you think about “starch,” what comes to mind?

Glucose. Carbs. Elevated blood sugar. Insulin spikes. Glycogen repletion. Basically, we think about starch that we (meaning our host cells) can digest, absorb, and metabolize as glucose (for better or worse).

Officially, resistant starch is “the sum of starch and products of starch degradation not absorbed in the small intestine of healthy individuals.” Instead of being cleaved in twain by our enzymes and absorbed as glucose, resistant starch (RS) travels unscathed through the small intestine into the colon, where colonic gut flora metabolize it into short chain fatty acids. Thus, it’s resistant to digestion by the host.

There are four types of resistant starch:

RS Type 1 – Starch bound by indigestible plant cell walls; found in beans, grains, and seeds.

RS Type 2 – Starch that is intrinsically indigestible in the raw state due to its high amylose content; found in potatoes, bananas, plantains, type 2 RS becomes accessible upon heating.

RS Type 3 – Retrograded starch; when some starches have been cooked, cooling them (fridge or freezer) changes the structure and makes it more resistant to digestion; found in cooked and cooled potatoes, grains, and beans.

RS Type 4 – Industrial resistant starch; type 4 RS doesn’t occur naturally and has been chemically modified; commonly found in “hi-maize resistant starch.”

It’s almost certain that different RS types have somewhat different effects on our gut flora, but the specifics have yet to be fully elucidated. In general, RS (of any type) acts fairly similarly across the various types.

Where Do We Get It?

We can get RS from food. The richest food sources are raw potatoes, green bananas, plantains, cooked-and-cooled potatoes, cooked-and-cooled-rice, parboiled rice, and cooked-and-cooled legumes.

We can get RS from supplementary isolated starch sources. The best sources are raw potato starch, plantain flour, green banana flour, and cassava/tapioca starch. Raw (not sprouted) mung beans are a good source of RS, so mung bean starch (commonly available in Asian grocers) will probably work, too.

The most reliable way to get lots of RS, fast, is with raw potato starch. There are about 8 grams of RS in a tablespoon of the most popular brand: Bob’s Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch. It’s also available at Whole Foods.

For an exhaustive compendium of RS sources, check out this PDF from Free the Animal.

What Does It Do for Us?

Like any other organism, gut bacteria require sustenance. They need to eat, and certain food sources are better than others. In essence, RS is top-shelf food for your gut bugs. That’s the basic – and most important – function of RS.

What Are the Health Benefits of Consuming RS?

What does the research say?

Preferentially feeds “good” bacteria responsible for butyrate production. It even promotes greater butyrate production than other prebiotics. Since the resident gut flora produce the butyrate, and everyone has different levels of the different flora, the degree of butyrate production varies according to the individual, but resistant starch consistently results in lots of butyrate across nearly every subject who consumes it. Butyrate is crucial because it’s the prime energy source of our colonic cells (almost as if they’re designed for steady exposure to butyrate!), and it may be responsible for most of the other RS-related benefits.

Improves insulin sensitivity. Sure enough, it improves insulin sensitivity, even in people with metabolic syndrome.

Improves the integrity and function of the gut. Resistant starch basically increases colonic hypertrophy, making it more robust and improving its functionality. It also inhibits endotoxin from getting into circulation and reduces leaky gut, which could have positive ramifications on allergies and autoimmune conditions.

Lowers the blood glucose response to food. One reason some people avoid even minimal amounts of carbohydrate is the blood glucose response; theirs is too high. Resistant starch lowers the postprandial blood glucose spike. This reduction may also extend to subsequent meals.

Reduces fasting blood sugar. This is one of the most commonly mentioned benefits of RS, and the research seems to back it up.

Increases satiety. In a recent human study, a large dose of resistant starch increased satiety and decreased subsequent food intake.

May preferentially bind to and expel “bad” bacteria. This is only preliminary, but there’s evidence that resistant starch may actually treat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth by “flushing” the pathogenic bacteria out in the feces. It’s also been found to be an effective treatment for cholera when added to the rehydration formula given to patients; the cholera bacteria attach themselves to the RS granules almost immediately for expulsion.

Enhances magnesium absorption. Probably because it improves gut function and integrity, resistant starch increases dietary magnesium absorption.

What do user anecdotes say?

Improves body composition. I’ve heard reports of lowered body fat and increased lean mass after supplementing with or increasing dietary intake of RS. Seeing as how RS consumption promotes increased fat oxidation after meals, this appears to be possible or even likely.

Improves thyroid function. Many RS supplementers have noted increases in body temperature, a rough indicator of thyroid function.

Improves sleep, conferring the ability to hold and direct (in real time) private viewings of vivid movie-esque dreams throughout the night. I’ve noticed this too and suspect it has something to do with increased GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid) from the increased butyrate. Another possibility is that resistant starch is feeding serotonin-producing gut bacteria, and the serotonin is being converted to melatonin when darkness falls.

Increases mental calm. Many people report feeling very “zen” after increasing RS intake, with reductions in anxiety and perceived stress. The latest science indicates that our gut flora can impact our brain, and specific probiotics are being explored as anti-anxiety agents, so these reports may very well have some merit.

Are There Any Downsides?

For all the success stories, the message boards are also rife with negative reactions to RS. They take it, maybe too much to start, and get gas, bloating, cramping, diarrhea or constipation, a sense of “blockage,” headaches, and even heartburn. I think RS supplementation may be a good measuring stick for the health of your gut. Folks with good gut function tend to respond positively, while people with compromised guts respond poorly. The gas, bloating, cramps and everything else are indicators that your gut needs work. But it’s not the “fault” of resistant starch, per se.

What to do if you’re one of the unlucky ones? You’ve got a few options:

You could skip it altogether. I think this is unwise, personally, because the role of fermentable fibers, including RS, in the evolution of the human gut biome/immune system has been monumental and frankly irreplaceable. There’s a lot of potential there and we’d be remiss to ignore it.

You could incorporate probiotics. You need the guys that eat the RS to get the benefits of consuming RS. And sure, you have gut flora – we all do, for the most part, except after colonic sterilization before a colonoscopy or a massive round of antibiotics, maybe – but you don’t have the right kinds. Probiotics, especially the soil-based ones (the kind we’d be exposed to if we worked outside, got our hands dirty, and generally lived a human existence closer to that of our ancient ancestors), really seem to mesh well with resistant starch.

You should reduce the dose. Some people can jump in with a full 20-30 grams of RS and have no issues. Others need to ramp things up more gradually. Start with a teaspoon of your refined RS source, or even half a teaspoon, and get acclimated to that before you increase the dose.

You could eat your RS in food form. Potato starch and other supplementary forms of RS are great because they’re easy and reliable, but it’s also a fairly novel way to consume RS. You might be better off eating half a green banana instead of a tablespoon of potato starch.

My Experience

The first time I tried potato starch, I got a lot of gas. Not the end of the world, and I realize gas is a natural product of fermentation, just unpleasant. It died down after a few days, but it was only after I added in some of my Primal Flora probiotic that I started seeing the oft-cited benefits: better sleep, vivid dreams, a more “even keel.”

Now, I do potato starch intermittently. I’m very suspicious of eating anything on a daily basis. I tend to cycle foods, supplements, exercises, everything. Gas production goes up every time I re-start the potato starch, but not unpleasantly so and it subsides relatively quickly, especially when I take the probiotics.

So there’s a learning curve to RS. It’s not a cure all, but neither is anything else. It’s merely an important, arguably necessary piece of a very large, very complex puzzle.

Resistant starch is vitally important for gut (and thus overall) health, but it’s not the only thing we need. It’s likely that other forms of fermentable fiber (prebiotics) act synergistically with RS.

Hey, it’s almost like eating actual food with its broad and varied range of bioactive compounds, polyphenols, fibers, resistant starches, vitamins, and minerals tends to have the best effects on our gut biome! You can certainly enhance the picture with isolated refined resistant starches and fibers like unmodified potato starch, but they can’t replace what our bodies really expect: the food.

Let me know what you think, and I hope you find this guide useful.

What’s your experience been with resistant starch? Good, bad, neutral? Let’s hear all about it!

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You want comments? We got comments:

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  1. Okay, I’m ready to try. Anyone have a recipe using raw potato starch that can be easily incorporated into a primal/paleo diet (meat, eggs, veges, occasional fruti)? I don’t do smoothies, nor do I do fruit juice or yogurt. It kind of seems like my only option is water (yech, sounds awful). Thanks.

    Deanna Kate wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • It’s really not bad at all in plain water! It doesn’t really have a flavor and dissolves almost completely. You could mix it into cold tea, or stir some into cool mashed potato or other mashed veggie.

      Annika wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Water really isn’t so bad. I take my potato starch plain in water either first thing in the morning or shortly before bedtime. It tastes like…well…raw potato! If you have ever bitten into raw potato that is it. It isn’t a strong taste, so I suspect you won’t have much of an issue with it. Chase it with a bite of something flavorful if need be, but you might be surprised.

      Rodney wrote on March 26th, 2014
      • Thanks. Will try. Saw the idea of taking it in coconut milk on another site and will try that, too.

        Deanna Kate wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • use PS as thickener on sauces. just make sure that the sauce has cooled down to about 100 before adding.

      sootedninjas wrote on March 26th, 2014
      • Like that idea. Thanks! Will try.

        Deanna Kate wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • I just mix it with water and be sure I have something else to drink right after. Kind of like a shot. LOL

      Penny D wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Most times I just stir it in water and chug it, but sometimes I mix up a bowl of room temperature canned organic pumpkin with pumpkin pie spice, some Z-sweet or Swerve, and a couple of Tbsp of Bob’s Red Mill unmodified potato starch. Pretty tasty.

      Wheatless Ellen wrote on March 26th, 2014
      • I’ve now gotten some and tried it in water. It’s fine! Not much taste. A bit of chalkiness to the texture. But fine.

        I guess I had in mind some cold potatoes I ate once that had a kind of gluey texture to them. This was nothing like that.

        Thanks, though for the ideas. The pumpkin dish sounds particularly good.

        Deanna Kate wrote on March 27th, 2014
    • I spoon the potato starch directly into my mouth, then drink water through it, chewing as I go.

      Unfortunately, if I sneeze, my shirt and table look like I have an abuse habit on par with Scarface.

      Expendable Henchman wrote on April 3rd, 2014
      • Correction, just took some more. I don’t chew, I wiggle my tongue to dissolve it.

        Expendable Henchman wrote on April 3rd, 2014
        • Oh, this is funny! You know how it turns into that ooblecky sort of texture when you put water into it? I’d be afraid that stuff would form and glue my mouth shut.

          Deanna Kate wrote on April 3rd, 2014
      • Ha! Now that’s a contender for comment of the week.

        thepaleoscoop wrote on April 3rd, 2014
  2. I could use that increase in thyroid function. I’m going to have to try some of this RS. I’d never heard of it before today.

    Liz wrote on March 26th, 2014
  3. Mark — this is the best discussion I have seen on just what resistant starch is. A diabetic support group was turning this idea around about a year ago. What we were told then was to cook waxy potatoes (something like Yukon gold being the best), Boil the potatoes whole in their jackets so that the starch is contained within the potato, some said cook for 30 minutes, others for an hour, and then cool, then put in the refrigerator for about 24 hours. It seemed the best use for these would be in potato salad. Some found they could heat the potatoes briefly before eating

    . Quoting your article now: “RS Type 3 – Retrograded starch; when some starches have been cooked, cooling them (fridge or freezer) changes the structure and makes it more resistant to digestion; found in cooked and cooled potatoes, grains, and beans.”
    I am wondering if you have a more definitive source on just how to convert potatoes, rice and legumes into retrograde starch and consume it properly. I am a Type 2 diabetic and generally these are foods we avoid while on a low carb high fat diet. Though I do eat small portions occasionally. Certainly they have far less impact on my BG than wheat has. Also I have wondered if potatoes you buy frozen such as fries or shredded hash browns would have resistant starch, but then heating them would maybe convert the starch back again?

    I have a family member with an auto-immune disorder and I am trying to get her to try a gluten free diet. Some of the benefits of the RS that you described could be very helpful. She is taking probiotics but I think we should check out the soil based probiotics.

    Thank you for such a comprehensive article.

    Gretchen RS wrote on March 26th, 2014
  4. So what to use? Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch or Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Flour?

    John wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • I find the potato starch cheaper and easier to find in my area off the shelf. But that could vary in areas. I will stick with the PS as it agrees with me.

      Janet wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Why not try both and see which works better for you, or rotate or mix them?

      Paleophil wrote on March 26th, 2014
  5. I didn’t see any mention of traditionally fermented vegetables- a great way to get resistant starches easily into the diet. Fermentation method is key. None of that over salted whey ferments that are so popular right now.

    Instead, look up Harsch crocks or Pickl-it’s. They are such an amazing health tool.

    Jen Richard wrote on March 26th, 2014
  6. What about cooked cauliflower? I have been told it converts to a starch when cooked. Also wonder about powdered sprouted rice protein.

    Geri wrote on March 26th, 2014
  7. I would just be very cautious with this if you have SIBO (small intestinal bacterial overgrowth), as RS is NOT advised for this condition. I have SIBO and don’t do well with most foods that are high in RS. http://www.siboinfo.com/diet.html

    Gena wrote on March 26th, 2014
  8. I’m not a fan of supplements. One of the appeals of eating paleo/primal is that real food is the mainstay. So I think I’ll skip the potato starch and eat a real potato and some bananas now and then and hope that’s enough.

    mattoomba wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • nope it ain’t gonna be enough. 500g of Raw Potato = 75g RS. cooked and cooled = 25g RS only.

      so PS is a good gap filler.

      sootedninjas wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • I agree. I’d rather spend $ on good food rather than supplements since I have to eat anyway! But then, I’m not in a bad way health-wise (if not yet optimal). I might try adding a little cooled potato now and then and see if I notice any effects. The other alternative might be some tapioca starch, though not sure how or what to add it to.

      sinic wrote on March 26th, 2014
  9. I’m unwilling to do the grueling research, but willing to bet that raw young corncobs have some resistant starch or something similar. I’ve picked and eaten the baby cobs, which are like cauliflower wrapped in lettuce with sweet sprouts on top, and they make me feel better. It could have been GMO corn but I don’t think there was any pesticide used since I lived nearby and never saw anything sprayed and the corn wasn’t culled, so it was probably a rotation/fertilizer crop – farmers or those more educated about farming than me can chime in with the correct terms if they want to.

    Animanarchy wrote on March 26th, 2014
  10. Can the potatoes be fried in lard and then cooled? I would rather try a yummy food source then a powder.

    Susan wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Susan

      The ABSOLUTELY coolest way I’ve found to do potatoes now is that I bake a bunch of them, toss them in the fridge. Then, I pull them out as needed, peel (sometimes not), slice or chop, depending on application. From these I can make mashed taters, potato salad, reheat for a baked potato and my favorite of all: cubed and wok fried for just a few minutes in RED PALM OIL.

      It’s the bomb.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on March 26th, 2014
  11. Would old-fashioned tapioca pudding provide RS?

    maidel wrote on March 26th, 2014
  12. Argh….so potatoes are good for you when they’re raw, but then they’re awful for you when they’re cooked, but if you let them cool overnight and then use them in a hot dish (like adding them to soup or a curry sauce) then they’re good for you again?!

    Applying this same logic to stuff like refried beans or cooked rice, reheated left-overs have way more resistant starch than if you eat them freshly cooked?

    The skeptical part of my brain is sounding alarms.

    dragonmamma wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • I know what you mean, I’m getting the feeling I had when I first read Gary Taubes and couldn’t believe how much I’d thought I knew but clearly didn’t.

      Having spent 4 years or so Primal and thought I had it dialled things I thought were no gos seem to be creeping in, and not even as whole food! Hey ho.

      I’ve recently switched up my eating to include more phytoestrogens/omega 3s (flax oil and some seeds) and cultured food via Fage eaten with half a pear and handful of flax/sunflower/sesame/pumpkin seeds. This has improved the slow transit no end (which from research re menopause I understand is important for flushing ‘old’ hormones) – I suspect there is RS involved in the list above and probiotics (obviously) in the live yogurt.

      Kelda wrote on March 26th, 2014
      • kelda – I am always looking for ways to ease menopause symptoms – how much fage and much of the seeds are you eating?

        barb wrote on March 26th, 2014
        • I have 2 dessert spoons of Fage with one heaped dessert spoon of the seed mix.

          1 tablespoon of the Flax seed oil.

          Also started taking Agnus Castus (chasteberry) which has a long history of evening out hormones, particularly testosterone, 2 capsules with breakfast and with dinner (1600 mg daily).

          I’ve also added some pecan nuts for zinc and taken out caffeine except for one teabag of black tea in the morning. Also taken out chocolate (for the caffeine and theobromine content) because I’ve read that these stimulants are associated with tender breast tissue. Stimulants include alcohol (but I stopped drinking over a year ago).

          Within the traditional Chinese medicine system (stems and branches acupuncture in particular) menstral problems are associated with excess heat (internal), so eating cold foods helps normalise cycles – peppermint tea, watermelon and cucumber are all good to reduce heat.

          I’ve replaced my caffeinated drinks with peppermint tea. So far so good, the excess heat was the explanation for a shortening cycle. It seems to have done the trick. BTW excess heat is seen to be generated through emotional issues so meditation/mindfulness etc, yoga is also very useful.

          In Chinese medicine any cycle that isn’t 28 days with just 3 no-pain bleed days is considered dysfunctional and treated with herbs!

          Kelda wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • retrograde RS for cooked and cooled. That’s why ?

      sootedninjas wrote on March 26th, 2014
  13. Very interest article Mark. A company here in Australia has been manufacturing & promoting banana flour which is produced from ground dehydrated green Lady Finger bananas. Might be time to cook more with this product based on RS Type 2 qualities.

    Paul C wrote on March 26th, 2014
  14. I’ve battled chronic constipation my entire life, and now am dealing with, in all likelihood, SIBO/GERD/slow gastic emptying. Can’t do the LC thing, too stressful, and I end up binging by the 3rd day on everything carb. Now I’m using PS, and within the 1st week, I’m feeding logs to the city’s sewer system anyone with digestive ailments would be proud of. I’m only 3 weeks in, so I don’t know how this will affect the SIBO, but I will say, it has not worsened it. Now I’m preparing to follow Dr. BG’s 7-Steps Paleo* Gastro IQ SIBO Protocol: http://drbganimalpharm.blogspot.com/2013/11/how-to-cure-sibo-small-intestinal-bowel.html.
    My question is how safe is Bob’s Red Mill non-organic potato starch? From all the literature I’ve seen, it may be a real problem. It’s in any “Dirty Dozen” conventional food list. Here’s just one link out of many on how potatoes rely heavily on cycle after cycle of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides that absorb into the flesh (so peeling ‘em isn’t an option) : http://livingmaxwell.com/health-risks-conventional-potatoes? I’ve been using the only organic one I’ve been able to find – and this is the lowest price – the one pound bag by Frontier Herbs at iHerb.com. Frontier couldn’t answer if it is heat-treated (modified) or not, but I’m getting all the gas and happy results one could expect from PS.
    Anyway, if TaterTot, someone, could respond as to the safety of Bob’s Red Mill potato starch, and if anyone else has found a better priced organic potato flour, I would love the assistance.

    Asia wrote on March 26th, 2014
  15. I have been using raw potato starch for a few weeks and have found the effects of initial increased gas, the vivid dreams and improved bowel habit. I took a break for the Primalcon Tulum trip as taking a lot of white powder in or out of Mexico seemed like a bad idea. Since returning to Australia and resuming the gas doesn’t seem to have been an issue. Angelo Coppola in his Latest in Paleo did a 2 hour interview podcast with Richard Nikoly and Tatertot Tim on the whole resistant starch issue.

    Korree wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Thanks for mentioning the podcast with Angelo, Korree. But, everyone soould note that mine and Tim’s position on the Probiotics (as Mark has promoted here) has changed (Thanks to Dr. BG, our co-collaborator on the book). Seems we had a blind spot and kinda poo-pooed probiotics. But, then I tried them myself and wow! Really closed the gap on everything. For instance, unlike others I wasn’t seeing as big of a BG lowering in fasting and post meal. But now I do.

      Incidentally, in Angelo’s very latest podcast, he brought Tim on at the start of the show to clarify all of this, so if you listen to our original (LONG!) interview, then be sure to catch Tim’s update.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on March 26th, 2014
  16. I am using manioca starch and i have had vivid dream and better sleep .

    Cesar Neto wrote on March 26th, 2014
  17. I’m on a ketogenic diet and still trying to find a solution for my high intensity/anaerobic workouts that have suffered in the absence of carbs. I’m wondering if the potato starch could be used similarly to the UCAN Superstarch pre and post workout? I have been giving myself time to make sure I’m fully adapted to keto but I was planning on trying out the superstarch. It is very expensive though. Has anyone experienced more energy from the resistant starch? Improved workouts? Know if this might work the same way as the UCAN? UCAN says they process the product a certain way for a slow release in the body and there is supposed to be no stomach discomfort. Still, I’m wondering if this could work ie. resistant starch vs. superstarch.

    Angela wrote on March 26th, 2014
  18. I can’t find potato starch in my Midland backwater so grated potatoes in the blender and squeezed the result in muslin – as Richard described the starch sediments out easily – like clay.
    Good stuff tho – to quote the great Lustig “fart or get fat”

    Freddy wrote on March 26th, 2014
  19. Another satisified customer here! I’ve been supplementing with a tablespoon of potato starch at bedtime for close to two months now, and I’m definitely getting and enjoying those vivid dreams. My digestion is great, and I’ve noticed an increased tolerance for the few foods that tended to give me a bit of trouble (e.g.,nuts and seeds) if I overdid them.

    I’ve also noticed an improvement in mood, energy, and body composition, but I’ve been tweaking other aspects of my diet, sleep, and activity, so I can’t say for sure how much of a factor the RS has been.

    Inchokate wrote on March 26th, 2014
  20. Is kombucha a good probiotic source?

    Karen Casino wrote on March 26th, 2014
  21. while on a ketogenic diet, what food could you eat to have decent amounts of resistant starch?

    Chris wrote on March 26th, 2014
  22. Think you for this, Mark.
    Can you explain to me what is the problem with using a product seminar to HiMaize? I am using Fiberfin (which I can purchase in Denmark). When I mention “seminar” I guess Fiberfin it is not quite the same but still a resistent starch. I use it in my LCHF bread.
    See also: http://www.hi-maize.com/HiMaize/USA/Consumers/What+Is+Hi-maize/
    Best regards, Jette DC

    Jette D. Christensen wrote on March 26th, 2014
  23. Has anybody tried Advocare’s Carb-Ease Plus? Found here: https://www.advocare.com/130122569/Store/ItemDetail.aspx?itemCode=T4462&id=A And is this considered an RS supplement? I’ve been avoiding it (it’s sitting in my pantry) thinking that since it is made with White Kidney Beans it is off-limits. Any input?

    Carole E. wrote on March 26th, 2014
  24. Is glucomannan (konjac) considered resistant starch? I downloaded the PDF but things like Cassava, sweet potato and konjac are not there. Can you give me any idea about RS vs digestible starch in cassava? I am controlling diabetes with diet and cannot tolerate any starch/sugar. I already use a lot of konjac. Thanks.

    Patty D wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • i read that konjac is almost 100% RS–great! i started out using cassava, but stopped because of reports that many tapioca-containing foods contain cyanide that naturally occurs in many varieties of the cassava root. so i switched over to the bob’s red mill potato starch. i also buy green plaintains at the local east indian grocery. i peel it, slice it thinly, and put it in the fridge in an uncovered container so that it gradually dries.

      Jenny wrote on March 26th, 2014
  25. What a wonderful post – but I feel we need even more! I’m not fully clear on the relationship between probiotics and the RS. If we’re taking probiotics without RS as well – what is happening? The bacteria in the probiotics are starving? But don’t they eat other stuff besides RS? Sorry, I know I sound like a boob, but – I’m still a little confused.

    Debbie wrote on March 26th, 2014
  26. You can find green banana flour from WEDO Gluten Free on their website http://www.wedoglutenfree.com OR it looks like they are on Amazon too! Excited to give it a try!

    Jeff Davis wrote on March 26th, 2014
  27. Mark, I looked at a few of the studies you revered to and the starch used is high-amylose cornstarch. I just hope your readers realize this is not the same thing as regular cornstarch which is if I’m not mistaken very digestible.

    victor wrote on March 26th, 2014
  28. Does anyone have a good potato salad recipe?

    victor wrote on March 26th, 2014
  29. My head hurts. Too much info, too many questions… Arghhh. I’ll have to sleep on this and try to make sense of it all. I think this one needs a follow-up Mark – the DEFINITIVE Definitive Guide.

    Question for y’all: What about those par-cooked packaged rice bowls? (Korean and Japanese) – they are short-grain white rice.

    Pure Hapa wrote on March 26th, 2014
  30. Wouldn’t raw fermented potato sticks be a two fer? Get your probiotic and your RS all in one?… without adding powders and such to ones diet.

    patrick wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Nope, patrick. The RS is what will drive the fermentation. You want that happening in your colon, not in a jar.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on March 26th, 2014
  31. One more question – how does this need for RS fit into the Grok-lore? What did our Paleo ancestors do that we aren’t doing?

    Pure Hapa wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • “One more question – how does this need for RS fit into the Grok-lore? What did our Paleo ancestors do that we aren’t doing?”

      They ate a lot of dirty storage organs, roots, tubers, rhizomes, corns, and often raw. You can see videos of Hadza women and girls, for example, going out and digging up roots and tubers and chewing on them dirt and all. So, RS and soil based organisms all in one.

      Richard Nikoley wrote on March 26th, 2014
  32. I’m a little confused…how does one go about adding RS in whole food form without doubling or tripling their normal daily carb intake? I can’t see eating 1-2 green bananas and a couple raw potatoes each day, in addition to normal amounts of carbs from veggies and fruit (I usually have one serving of fruit a day– berries, if possible) and still staying under 100-150 carbs. Please, enlighten me!

    Antonio wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • It looks like you’ve figured out one reason why so many LCers use the powders, at least early on. Not everyone can tolerate lots of easily-digestible starches. I don’t for one, though my tolerance seems to have improved some.

      It’s odd how there seems to be so much more skepticism, criticism and complaining about RS powders (such as potato, plantain, tapioca and mung bean starch powders) than other “processed” foods and food-like products like whey powder, almond flour, “Paleo” chocolate chip cookies, “Paleo” fritata muffins, low carb sandwich wraps, “fat bread,” coconut and flaxmeal pancakes, Paleo ice cream bon bons, Mg and other nutritional supplements, Lugol’s iodine, churned and pasteurized butter, coconut butter, lard, crispy fried bacon, “Paleo” energy bars, …. All of these involve some sort of processing (such as the very common one known as cooking). Why are kale chips more readily accepted than plantain chips?

      On the other hand, it’s a novel experiment to eat lots of RS powders every day, and, like Mark, I don’t like to eat the same foods every day, and I’m trying to gradually build up my tolerance for “whole” food sources.

      Paleophil wrote on March 26th, 2014
      • It’s that whole-food meme–a good one, but I just don’t have time to do all the RS prep crap. Putting a couple of spoons of PS in a glass of water, use a tiny whisk to stir, glug, glug, stir, glug, stir, glug. DONE. If I learned to love sardines and liver, I can down a glass with a slight taste of raw potato and then get on with my life. Easier to judge for me since I have a calculated amount of RS to gauge my n=1. When I am retired (next September YEAHH) I might play around with the food more, but cooking and cooling converted rice and keeping it in baggies for individual servings, is about all the extra I will do. But have fun the rest of ya.

        Junkgrl wrote on March 27th, 2014
  33. OK, so to get this straight, RS’s don’t count as carbs; therefore, they don’t contribute to our glucose needs, and we need to eat something else, non-resistant (hot rice/potatos, sweet potatos, fruit, maple syrup, etc,) to get glucose, if needed. Yes?

    What about sprouted legumes? or sprouted and cooked, legumes? (would they, too, need to be cooled)
    What about legumes that have been soaked, ground, fermented, and cooked into a bread, idili, or dosa? (and would that need to be cooled?)
    Likewise for grain, such a teff, in making injera?

    Plantains are only resistant when raw? or can they be cooked and cooled (ie plantain chips/crackers)?

    Becky wrote on March 26th, 2014
  34. Is there a source of raw PS from organically grown potatoes?

    Ain wrote on March 26th, 2014
  35. Does not compute!! I’ve been avoiding legumes and carbs to avoid the blood glucose spikes, and now I am reading that rice and certain starches are okay.

    I looked at “the perfect health diet” that Mark wrote the preface of and I see that they don’t see a problem with white rice and potatoes. I get not eliminating so many things from ones diet is necessary, but I have been avoiding rice like mad because I have been trying to stay within the 50-100grams but I would LOVE to have sushi again and not feel guilty.

    Is this now cool… and some roasted potatoes leftovers?

    Hoss wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Just adding some converted rice and a baked potato here and there has made me HAPPIER. I am in good health. These additions have re-energized my meals and planning again. I am following the Perfect Health Diet to a major extent. Needed the carbs, actually for energy, mood and gut bugs, it seems.

      Junkgrl wrote on March 27th, 2014
  36. “What about sprouted legumes? or sprouted and cooked, legumes? (would they, too, need to be cooled)”

    Not sprouted. RS is part of the fuel for sprouting. So, mung beans, for instance, lots of RS. Bean sprouts: zero. You want to soak. Eat some fresh, then double the RS value by refrigerating or freezing the rest.

    “What about legumes that have been soaked, ground, fermented, and cooked into a bread, idili, or dosa? (and would that need to be cooled?)”

    Yea, probably, since retrograde is resistant to degradation. However, I’d go easy on the cooking methods.

    “Likewise for grain, such a teff, in making injera?”

    I hope to someday be able to find out if teff has any RS. But, it’s gluten free and injera topped with a great Ethiopian spicy stew of meat is to die for.

    “Plantains are only resistant when raw? or can they be cooked and cooled (ie plantain chips/crackers)?”

    I do not think the RS in green bananas and plantains behaves the same way for retrograde. Perhaps Tim can weight in. We’ve discussed this before, but can’t remember. The safest way to preserve RS is to freeze them when green, or dehydrate.

    Richard Nikoley wrote on March 26th, 2014
  37. As someone with autoimmune disease, I found resistant starch increased my inflammation. I think it’s worth the n=1 experiment, but for some of us, it hurts instead of helps. The microbiome is so complex, and there is the theory that a particular type of bacteria in our gut contributes to the symptoms of our autoimmune disease. My theory is that RS feeds this in me, along with the beneficials, resulting in more harm than good for me personally. This was following a protocol like the one Mark recommends – choosing food sources, small amounts and building up slowly, with the result that my inflammation also built up slowly until eventually I flared. Even with caution and daily probiotics, RS was a negative for me. I don’t say this to scare anyone away from experimenting, but just to bring some balance to the discussion. RS may have been universally beneficial in ancestral times, but I’m guessing autoimmune disease didn’t exist back then. It’s not surprising that my body responds differently than a healthy individual.

    Eileen wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • I was going to mention this as well. My arthritic autoimmune condition (ankylosing spondylitis) has been linked to the bacteria klebsiella pneumoniae. The more these guys feed on starch and reproduce the worse my arthritis pain is. (Among other things, I can’t walk due to the extreme hip pain with a bad flare-up.)

      The key here, seems to be fixing the gut bacteria balance so they have more competition. In the mean-time I have to keep my diet virtually free of resistant starch so they don’t over-populate and provoke my immune system.

      Seth wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Many thanks for mentioning this, as I have seen the same.

      I personally do well with soluble fibres (leeks, onions, proteoglycans from meats) and had adverse effects with these starches.

      Sabine wrote on March 27th, 2014
    • Eileen,

      Are you aware that autoimmunity involves autoantibodies and a perforated/permeable gut that is usually missing commensal residents and suffering from pathogen/parasitic overgrowths? I think delving into a 16S rRNA stool testing by Genova + looking at the microbial/fungal dysbiosis urinary markers may yield more info as to why and how you experienced the failure with fiber/RS. Figuring out what are the root problems in the gut may save you time and fast track your successes.

      Thank you for your comments and sharing your story! Once I believe you have vetted the pathogens out by weeding weeding weeding hopefully you may experience the reversal in autoimmunity/sibo/sifo and improvements in ‘sealing’ the gut as shared by several cases below.

      http://drbganimalpharm.blogspot.com/2014/01/two-case-studies-diarrhea-ibs-and.html
      http://drbganimalpharm.blogspot.com/2014/01/two-c-elegans-articles-and-two-success.html

      Grace/Dr.BG wrote on March 27th, 2014
      • Hi Grace. I’m definitely aware of that connection. Like Seth, I have addressed this through diet, so now my pathogenic counts are very low. I have rheumatoid arthritis and have been flare-free for over a year, take no immunosuppressant nor steroid medication, work full-time, have tons of energy, and digest all other food very well – including fiber, prebiotics and all fruits/vegetables (except nightshades). If I was still flaring or experiencing setbacks in my healing, I would consider the antibiotic route. That was the original alternative treatment for RA, but it’s important to note it’s a lifetime prescription, not a one-time cure. Personally, I prefer the real food prescription of simply listening to my body and feeding it foods it likes and avoiding the foods it doesn’t.

        Regarding the case studies, the autism one seems to just be snapshot of one moment in time with a suggested prescription, rather than any treatment results, and the others are pretty new experiments (although quite hopeful.)

        I know that you and your co-authors are passionate about RS, and that drives discovery and knowledge. I just caution everyone riding this RS wave to remember that this science is in its infancy, which means there is far more that we don’t know about the microbiome. It’s hubris to make too many claims at this point, especially universal recommendations.

        Eileen wrote on March 28th, 2014
        • Eileen,

          Congratulations on your health recovery — that is almost unheard in modern healthcare! Concur, I would not advise antibiotics for RA unless the huge risks outweigh the marginal and longterm gut consequences. Just like Crohn’s there will be new insights as technology allows knowledge about the gut to realize the impacts on the commensals from broad spectrum antibiotics. The latest research spells disaster for Crohn’s who receive antibiotics.

          We are passionate because everything that opens conversations about the gut are fantastic (and how modern factors and food kill, maim, amputate it).

          In my patients with autoimmune arthritis, 100% invariably have parasites and/or microbial pathogens (bacterial, fungi, etc). Have you ever considered having this assessed? Parasites are often hard to diagnose requiring 3-5 day sampling. These do not remediate easily on the ‘food prescription’ and need some care. Ancestral societies all engaged in proper botanical care, no? Clay, charcoal, antiparasitic and antimicrobial botanicals that are far less likely to harm the commensal symbionts.

          These 16S rRNA stool and urinary fungi and bacterial dysbiosis marker tests are cutting edge yet shamelessly underutilized
          http://www.gdx.net/product/10150‎
          http://www.gdx.net/product/10003‎

          If a part of one’s gut were missing (like a commensal benficial Clostridium, Bacteroidetes, Bifido or Lacto strain) or ‘amputated’, previously we would not know or be aware, no?

          Now tools exist where we can tell an ‘arm’ or ‘heart’ are missing or maimed. These strains keep nightshades and other common food ‘allergens’ from breaching and triggering hypersensitivity from the immune system fyi. They keep Candida and Klebsiella from translocating and triggering arithritis reactions in joint tissues because candida and Kleb resemble the same strings of amino acids found in joints and other mammalian tissues.

          I think you’ll find these cool. Crohn’s and autism are autoimmune as well. The autism one is where they add a commensal bacteria that is frequently wiped out by antibiotics in babies, moms and everyone, and VOILA, neuroatypical autism signs and symptoms nearly ALL REVERSE.

          http://www.salon.com/2014/03/23/is_a_treatment_for_crohns_disease_on_the_horizon_partner/
          http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/38576/title/Gut-Microbes-and-Autism/

          Grace/Dr.BG wrote on March 29th, 2014
        • “remember that this science is in its infancy”

          Interesting. If you open advanced search in Pubmed, you get the following:

          (microbiome OR biome) AND gut = 4,251

          resistant AND starch = 1,503

          (paleo OR paleolithic) AND diet = 109

          Resistant Starch has been studied for 30 years. 180 studies have been published since Jan 1, 2013.

          Richard Nikoley wrote on March 30th, 2014
        • Eileen,

          We are not just into spreading lies and deception about RS — but also all fiber like Glucomannan, Inulin, FOS, ROS, GOS, and breastmilk HMOs. Let’s not forget evolution’s favorite food.

          Have you heard of Glucomannan? It’s much like RS fiber with also an impressive ancient history known as konjac root routinely in Asia. If you look up horchata or tiger nut which are rich in resistant starches and fiber for its beneficial botanical effects for ulcers, infectious diarrhea and women’s hormone disorders, you might find surprised like I was!
          —————————————————————————
          Study of new ways of supplementary and combinatory therapy of rheumatoid arthritis with immunomodulators. Glucomannan and Imunoglukán in adjuvant arthritis.
          Bauerová K, Paulovicová E, Mihalová D, Svík K, Ponist S.
          Toxicol Ind Health. 2009 May-Jun;25(4-5):329-35. doi: 10.1177/0748233709102945.
          PMID: 19651805 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

          Glucomannan reduces neutrophil free radical production in vitro and in rats with adjuvant arthritis.
          Drábiková K, Perecko T, Nosál R, Bauerová K, Ponist S, Mihalová D, Kogan G, Jancinová V.
          Pharmacol Res. 2009 Jun;59(6):399-403. doi: 10.1016/j.phrs.2009.02.003. Epub 2009 Feb 14.
          PMID: 19429472 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

          Glucomannan in prevention of oxidative stress and inflammation occurring in adjuvant arthritis.
          Bauerova K, Ponist S, Navarova J, Dubnickova M, Paulovicova E, Pajtinka M, Kogan G, Mihalova D.
          Neuro Endocrinol Lett. 2008 Oct;29(5):691-6.
          PMID: 18987599 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]

          Grace/Dr.BG wrote on March 30th, 2014
        • Grace, thank you for your thoughtful response. I will certainly look into all of the studies you linked. I want to be clear that I don’t think you or your co-authors are lying. I think RS research is fascinating, and I really look forward to reading your book. I’m also looking forward to seeing how our understanding evolves over the next decade. Because Richard, in spite of those pubmed articles, there is a ton we don’t know. The microbiome has only recently been sequenced, and since we’re all unique, many more samples need to be sequenced before we can begin to truly understand it. Just read any interview by the scientists of the American Gut Project or the Human Microbiome Project and you’ll see them refuse to give recommendations and caution people about drawing conclusions. I haven’t heard that same caution from you in terms of RS recommendations, but maybe I’m wrong about that. Maybe your book will present both sides – that some people benefit and some people don’t benefit from RS supplementation. In the meantime, I’m a big believer in n=1. Just because RS isn’t beneficial to me (at least right now) doesn’t mean I think it’s beneficial to no one. I wouldn’t have tried it myself if I wasn’t intrigued by Tatertot Tim’s experience, nor would I have suggested my husband do his own RS experiment after mine failed. I just don’t believe in advice written for n=everyone.

          Eileen wrote on March 30th, 2014
        • Dr. BG

          What do you think of helminthic therapy? That’s where you intentionally infect yourself with specific worm species because our gut bugs evolved symbiotically with them. People report it can beat candida, as can fecal transplant.

          TwitchyFirefly wrote on April 25th, 2014
  38. Any thoughts on the resistant starch found in Quest Bars? Quest Bars contain isomalto-oligosaccharides. The makers claim this is a resistant starch.

    Travis wrote on March 26th, 2014
  39. I have been trialling resistant starches for over 3 months now and for someone with a compromised gut, autoimmune and other immune problems it hasn’t been a panacea. I am persisting with the resistant starch despite mixed problems as a basic medium- low carb paleo was becoming more and more unsustainable. To start with on paleo I got great results with 80% compliance (as long as the 20% non-compliance wasn’t too over the top). After 5 years I had to have 100% strict auto-immune compliance all the time and even then I had blood sugar spikes, poor sleep, hot flashes at night and a loss of mental capacity and physical strength. So I’m looking for a better result than that.

    Initially I got a flare with my auto-immune disease each time I increased my doseage and when I trialled tapioca in place of PS. The potato starch didn’t make my rheumatoid arthritis flare much more than it was already and it settled down to the old level within weeks. The ankylosing spondylitis is a bit more problematic, but manageable and I only took pain relief on one occasion. I know when something is different if I get a minor flare, but I haven’t had one for a few weeks now.

    I did try two days of banana starch (Australian version) and despite it being sold as from green bananas and full of resistant starch for me it was like swallowing a huge bolus of sugar each time with lots of hot flushes and feeling like crap. Now I only tried it for two days so I hesitate to bag it entirely given that others have great results, but right at the moment I have to be careful, so I’ve put it to one side in the meantime.

    Things have been complicated because as an Australian I can’t get the probiotics Richard, Tim and Dr Grace recommend unless I send them to someone in the US for them to forward to me. I’m in the process of doing this but mail from the US can take 6 weeks (by air!). Amazon won’t send them direct here whether from the US or UK.

    Richard has suggested I really mix up what I’m doing to shake up my system. I know my body adapts if I do exactly the same every day.

    Initially I got fabulous Bristol 4 results (after years of IBS) – now after 3 months, mostly Bristol 4 with occasional diarrhoea days, say once every two or 3 weeks. Adding psyllum (itsp x 2 per day) destroyed all the benefits I had started to get from RS. Sleep didn’t become sound till I was on over 4 tbs PS a day, with carefully controlled everything else. I developed a much, much better pattern of sleep to about 11 weeks when I trialled the banana starch when it was destroyed over night. A week later I’m starting to improve again.

    I know I’m compromised in many ways but I believe that resistant starch is an important component and I’ve had enough good results to keep on with the trial and error. I think Dr Grace might be absolutely right that you can’t feed an empty cage – and I have to get an outside source of probiotics – the ordinary ones available here in Aus haven’t done any good at all and while Primal Defense do help they obviously aren’t enough. Hopefully the US one’s I’m trying to get will make a difference.

    This is long and involved but I hope those who are in a similar situation and who haven’t got an immediate great response won’t give up too early.

    Harriet wrote on March 26th, 2014
    • Harriet,

      I appreciate your story and hope you feel better soon.

      Do you have access to volunteering at a local garden, farm or CSA? Dirt is our friend (if healthy, organic, biodynamic)! As Mark always jokes, Grok ate probiotics. It was called DIRT ;)

      Grace/Dr.BG wrote on March 27th, 2014
  40. I made a batch of dehydrated plantains the other day. My husband took a liking to them. I turned my head and he had polished off the whole baggie. Whoops. He wasn’t in on the resistant starch story. It was a very musical night to say the least!

    Amy wrote on March 26th, 2014

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