One thing I have learned in my healing journey from autoimmune illness is what works for someone else may not work for you and vice versa. A cookie cutter approach to healing and nutrition never works very well.
As a rule of thumb, I follow an unprocessed, very low sugar/fructose, gluten and dairy free diet which primarily focuses on whole foods. On top of that I avoid a few other foods that I have tested intolerant to e.g. Soy, Eggs and Almonds. I have noticed that by not eating these foods I have less pain and inflammation in my body and it reduces the flare ups that come hand in hand with my Autoimmune illness thus improving my quality of life.
I have tried going full Paleo but unfortunately it did not sit very well with my stomach. Initially, I thought it was a healing crisis but I kept having a niggling feeling that something was off. In the last few years of overhauling the way I eat, one thing I have learned is to listen to my body especially whenever I add something in or take something out from my diet. When I ignore my body’s signal that something is not working and keep at it just because it is supposed to be ‘healthy’ or ‘gut healing’ or whatever else, the results have not been optimal. You can read more about my experience with green smoothies here.
Eating some rice or potatoes with my meals always calmed my stomach and thankfully I never had any flare ups or reactions after eating them either. I had no idea why my stomach felt good after eating rice or potatoes with my meals which also contain a good measure of vegetables and some protein. Even though I have insulin resistance (family history) I never experienced any hunger issues after I ate some rice or potatoes with my meals unlike if I ate a sugary gluten free dairy free goodie or even fruit whereby after an hour I will be hungry again. I was puzzled about why this was so. That was until I found out about Resistant Starch.
So what is Resistant Starch and why is it good for you?
Resistant starch is a form of indigestible carbohydrate that travels from the small intestine to the colon intact without being digested in the small intestine. Thus, not causing the high peaks in blood sugar which normally happens when one consumes a typical high carb food. It is also an invaluable prebiotic which selectively feeds friendly bacteria in the gut.
Once in the colon the resistant starch is then fermented by the bacteria in the gut and produces short chain fatty acids (SCFA). Short chain fatty acids are essential for the proper functioning of our gut. One of these fatty acids is called Butyrate. Butyrate is a powerful anti inflammatory and this fatty acid feeds the colonic cells in our gut thus promoting good intestinal health.
New studies are showing that resistant starch promotes weight loss and and reduces hunger hormones as well.
The four types of Resistant Starch
There are 4 types of resistant starch. I prefer to eat whole food versions – specifically the RS type 3 but many have reported success with using unmodified potato starch in their diet.
- RS Type 1 – Physically inaccessible or indigestible resistant starch, such as that found in seeds or legumes and unprocessed whole grains.
- RS Type 2 – Resistant starch that occurs naturally in certain foods such as uncooked potato and plantains
- RS Type 3 – Resistant starch that is formed when starch-containing foods are cooked and cooled, such as cooked and cooled rice or potatoes. Cooked and cooled plantains would also fit into this type. This occurs due to retrogradation, which refers to the process of dissolved starch becoming less soluble after being heated and dissolved in water and then cooled.
- RS Type 4 – Man made starches that have been chemically modified to resist digestion
Some whole food versions of Resistant Starch that are also gluten free (RS Type3)
- Plantains (member of banana family)
- Gluten free whole grains or white rice
The correct way to eat Resistant Starch (RS Type 3)
Cook your choice of food which you tolerate well from the above list, let it cool to room temperature and leave it in the fridge overnight to cool. This cooling action will cause retrogradation of starch in the food making it resistant to digestion in the small intestine, reaching the colon as resistant starch. The next day you can eat it with your meal after warming it up to room temperature. Slight warming doesn’t seem to affect the resistant the starch which forms after cooling in the fridge.
Eating carbohydrates this way increases the resistant starch in that food and reduces the digestible carbohydrate in that food the stuff that causes blood sugar to rise producing hunger pangs as a result.
By not including some resistant starch in my meals I would be starving my gut of the vital nourishment that good bacteria needs to do the important job of healing a leaky gut and keeping other nasty buggers in check. Eating probiotics is helpful as long as you take them but probiotics themselves will not continuously increase the colonies of good bacteria in our gut unlike resistant starch. Only prebiotics like resistant starch do that by feeding the gut bacteria. Short chain fatty acids like Butyrate are also essential for maintaining a healthy gut.
When you start including resistant starch into your diet, start slow and remember that all of us have our own bio individuality so always listen to your body and decide which type of resistant starch and how much of it works for you. Copious amounts of resistant starch can produce flatulence and bloating similar to when one takes a large dose of probiotics so do keep that in mind as well.
Grains, legumes and potatoes (nightshade) can be hard on some guts especially those suffering from Autoimmune disease. The only grain I can eat on a regular basis is rice and I have done well on potatoes even though it is a nightshade. Other types of gluten free grains, legumes and beans are hard on my stomach so I tend to stay away from them as much as possible. If you prefer not to have any digestible carbohydrate in your diet, I have come across people in the online wellness community who recommend Bob’s Red Mill unmodified potato starch as an alternative for those who are unable to stomach any grains or digestible carbohydrates so that may be worth a go. Although I prefer to use whole foods for obtaining my resistant starch from, I use Bob’s Red Mill unmodified potato starch in my baking.
It is always wise to remember that healing our body goes beyond following a particular diet given that we are unique with our microbiome and how well our detoxification pathways are working to clear the toxins from our body among many other factors.
Personally, eating rice and potatoes have never caused me to gain weight. The foods that cause me to gain weight is inflammation caused by foods I am sensitive to e.g. soy, gluten, dairy and sugar. Eaten right and in moderation Carbohydrates like rice and potatoes may not be a killer afterall. They might actually be good for you.
What has been your experience with resistant starch? Share in the comments below…
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