Here’s the reference: Prepare for the “Resistant Starch” Assimilation; Resistance is Futile. It started off slow, rather as I’d expected, because: STARCH! (Fingers raised across face in the sign of a cross.) But, comments began picking up and even though the post is quite a ways down in the scroll, it’s what’s getting the most play currently. And now, those who began their own experiments are beginning to report in.
I’m tickled at the authoritarian poo-pooing here & there. Not fooled for a second, though. Disappointed? Maybe a smidgen, but I’m counting on the last laugh. I would have thought that the sciency folks out there would have at least taken up some well-placed clues before proclaiming the issue of Resistant Starch to be so much hype.
…I see things like “I have boatloads of studies on it.” I call absolute lying bullshit. They do not—at least not that they’ve carefully read (I can’t dismiss out-of-hand what I’ve read carefully on the matter, and I live by my own standards). I also suspect you are being lied to by them…just because it’s “obvious,” dontcha see? Nothing to see here. It’s “starch,” and starch is a “4-letter word.” Yea, yea; and bla, bla. “There’s no essential carbohydrate” (true, but bullshit, because every human animal on Earth eats starch and always has). “Grains simply aren’t necessary” (true, and thanks for demonstrating how you just lied…because this is not about grains—also a very poor source of RS). …Plenty more lazy dismissive bullshit where that came from, but you get the idea.
In the end, trust is the only thing that really matters—not your popularity, not your credentials, and not anything else. The root of the problem is laziness. I grant that allure. Once people start seeking you out, asking advice, commenting on your blog, it get’s easy to just play authority. Of course, there are certain things in paleo we can rightly consider settled: avoid processed foods, refined sugars & grass seed oils, grains generally. You do have to draw lines, or literally everything is an endless open question forevermore, and nothing gets done because nobody can get off square one.
So yes, I agree: we do have a few things to be completely dismissive about. Resistant Starch, however, is not one of them. It’s not and not even close. The properties and potentials are too unique to do such a thing honestly. …Not if you want people to trust that you’re about the science and evidence and real benefits to real people in real life.
There are many areas that are not settled, yet. Dairy is perhaps the biggest one—running the gamut from pure ghee to plain old raw whole milk, and all in-between. Another is cured meats in abundance—like bacon, which I consider paleo‘s Original Sin. And more recently, the issue of “Safe Starches” has risen up, and it has traction for only one abiding reason: many people report good results. Many people report the resolution of nagging issues from LC / paleo. This ought to be seen as wondrous. It’s often not. I have to wonder why.
Resistant Starch (RS) would be a corollary or category of Safe Starches (SS). And it may just prove to be the ultimate safe starch.
Here’s the Paleoish hypothesis roughly stated in my view:
- Not really knowing what everyone actually always ate, especially when starving and biding time to the next successful hunt or fish, primitive humans likely consumed a vast variety of plant matter available, some of which happens to be high in RS, especially the raw and the unripe.
- RS is very unique in that it does not get digested at all until it reaches the colon (large intestine) where it then feeds relatively starved gut bacteria, staved because the flora in the small intestine gets first dibs on everything.
- For example, a potato cooked in whatever conventional manner gets digested in the small intestine, the starch is rapidly assimilated, and spikes blood glucose; whereas, a raw potato does not get digested until it hits the colon and then, the starch provides slow energy, feeds bacteria that produce short chain fatty acids (SCFA)—a saturated fat—and only raises blood glucose to a moderate degree. Moreover, it only provides caloric energy at 2-3 kcal per gram, not 4.
- The regular feeding of the colonic, large intestine gut flora has a number of downstream consequences, such as lowered fasting glucose levels over time, attenuation of blood glucose spikes from rapidly assimilating starch (2nd meal effect), and satiation and improved weight regulation from the enhanced production of SCFAs.
The proposed self experiment:
- Eat a big russet potato in whatever way you want to cook it, but without any stuff on it other than salt, pepper, herbs, spices, etc. Measure your BG levels for the first 4 hours every 15-30 minutes (15 minutes is best in the 1-2 hour window for resolution and so you don’t miss a spike).
- Once back down to normal BG levels, take in the whole starch equivalent of the same potato, but in the form of unmodified potato starch (mix it in some liquid of preference, drink). Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch is dirt cheap and 4 tablespoons (about 40g, with 80% by weight being resistant starch and the rest, moisture) gives you a whole potato worth of starch load. Do the exact same BG measurements at the same times.
- Once BG settles out again, repeat #1, take the same measurements at the same time.
- You will have a significant BG spike in #1; way more if you’re borderline T2 diabetic or full blown. It will take about 4 hours to clear.
- You will have a small spike with #2, far less than #1 and moreover, it will clear in 2-3 hours.
- Repeating the #1 experiment, you will experience a significant “2nd meal effect” where the test you did mere hours before is far less spiky and clears far more rapidly.
- Should the foregoing results be your general experience and you decide to continue taking 2-4 tablespoons per day of RS in the form of Bob’s Unmodified Potato Starch, you will find your fasting BG gradually come down over the next month. Note that physiologic insulin resistance and elevated fasting BG is a chronic “issue” (because I simply don’t know if it’s a “problem”) amongst LCers and IFers, including myself and family members.
- And should you continue the experiment per the foregoing #4, expect to experience substantially increased satiation and fat loss over time.
Still with me? Then here’s “Tatertot’s” latest entry, via email.
Based on the comments and questions from the first RS post, I did a little more digging and learned even more!
It was known as early as 1922 that certain starches resisted digestion, however, the term ‘resistant starch’ wasn’t used until the 1980’s when scientists studying starch digestion re-discovered the phenomenon. Since the 1980’s hundreds of studies have been done on the actual mechanisms of RS digestion. Numerous papers and articles were written in the 80’s and 90’s, but the effects of RS seemed to fall on deaf ears. A resurgence of interest in RS in the early 2000’s led to more studies and more articles. It was almost universally accepted by the scientific community that RS:
- improved glucose regulation and better weight control,
- reduced constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, and irritable bowel disease
- reduced colon cancer risk,
- and reduced blood cholesterol and triglycerides.
Resistant Starch contributes to health in two main ways: Its low Glycemic Load and its ability to enhance the microflora of the large intestine. As a carbohydrate with virtually zero impact on glucose, it stabilizes blood sugar and insulin, leading to lowered fasting blood glucose and insulin sensitivity. The ability of RS to resist digestion in the small intestine allows it to serve as a food source for the beneficial bacteria of the large intestine.
The concept of ‘gut microflora’ is difficult to grasp. Paul Jaminet wrote about it here. There are thousands of strains of bacteria, with populations in the trillions, living in the large intestines of humans. Some bacteria are good and some are bad. Scientists are just beginning to map out the thousands of strains and optimal populations.
Generally speaking, though, we can say there are two basic types of gut microbes that we can impact with resistant starch: Bifido-bacteria and Entero-bacteria.
Bifido-bacteria are the good kind. When you eat yogurt or sauerkraut for its probiotic strains of microbes, you are ingesting Bifido-bacteria. Bifido-bacteria comprise 90% of the gut bacteria of breast-fed babies, but only about 5% of adult gut flora. [emphasis added: what are they “eating?”]
Entero-bacteria are the bad kind. Though many are harmless, some of the more well-known species are Salmonella, E. Coli, and Enterobacter, which is closely related to obesity. Some of these type of bacteria can release endotoxins and cause ‘toxic shock syndrome’. Many of these types of bacteria are also resistant to antibiotics, making them very difficult to deal with. Entero-bacteria can survive in a wide range of environments, even outside the body, and feed on many different food sources–sometimes resulting in extreme gaseous events.
Studies such as this one have demonstrated that ingesting approximately 33g/day of resistant starch lead to major changes in gut microflora in as little as one week and at 3 weeks, Bifido-bacteria strains had increased up to 10-fold from baseline levels to almost 20% of total gut flora!
An important finding of the above study was that the changes in gut flora varied between individuals, were reversible, and tightly associated with the consumption of RS. Gut flora changes that occurred during the 3 week study returned to baseline levels in as little as one week after stopping the consumption of RS.
Also of importance from this study, no significant changes occurred in fecal pH with RS and no significant detrimental effects were observed on bowel movement, stool consistency, or discomfort, indicating that RS at doses of 33 g per day are well tolerated in human subjects.
This study was done using RS from wheat and corn, mixed into wheat flour crackers. As wheat and corn aren’t smiled upon in the paleo world, I have come up with a way to mirror these results and using a ‘safe starch’ to gain all of the benefits described in this and other studies.
Studies show improvements with as little as 10g/day and as much as 50g/day. Over 60g/day, no additional benefits are noted, but not harmful. The most common dosage seems to be 30-40g/day.
- Raw, unmodified potato (must not be pre-gelatinized!) provides nearly 8g RS2 per tablespoon.
- Green Banana/Plantain Flour is also a great source of RS at about 6g per TBS.
- Hi-Maize cornstarch seems to be a very good source as well at about 5g per TBS.
- Common cornstarch contains about 2.5g per TBS.
- White and Brown rice flour contains about 1.5g. per TBS.
- Arrowroot starch is a poor source with less than 1g per TBS.
Mix any combination of these starches to equal 10-40g/day in a smoothy, milk, kefir, yogurt, or just plain water. The sky is the limit, just be sure not to heat the starch! It must remain under 140 degrees to retain it’s RS characteristics. It may also be best to mix and match the RS sources for maximum benefit as studies suggest different RS sources affect different strains of beneficial bacteria.
Anyone have a Sous-Vide Supreme, the mini…or a home made knock off using the crock pot, temp probe, on/off switch hack? You are hereby enlisted. I have an SVS, so I’m in for sure.
First do the self experiment as outlined, because you need a baseline (that’ll take a day). And I want you to be convinced, so you’re all in. Then, repeat the experiment. Only, this time, instead of potato starch, you’re using another potato. You’re going to cook it sous vide for a few hours (2-3, probably). I’d suggest a setting of 130F. Word is the RS bursts and becomes rapidly digesting at 140, so 130 ought give a good margin for error. If it works, they’ll henceforth be known as “medium rare mashed potatoes.” I’ll use a food processor to make a purée and should the BG tests work, then, from then on, you’ll simply heat your cream and butter on the stove, and I suspect you’ll get a great purée mashed taters that even a diabetic can and potentially should eat regularly. The thought of LC panties in a bunch over that makes me giddy with delight.
I have not done this yet; and because I’m willing to put myself out there and risk being totally fucking wrong, least you’ll know I can be trusted, and that’s gold to me. So let’s do it and report results in comments. I’m gonna have to go get new BG meter test strips ’cause I haven’t pricked my finger in years and the ones I have are way out of date.
Imagine if you get the predicted results using the potato starch and then get similar results using a real potato, and it’s soft enough that it can be done into mashed potatoes & a paleo gravy? And diabetics can have no fear and that it ultimately improves their BG regulation over time the more sous vide mashed potatoes they eat daily?
Imagine if it works. If it doesn’t, it doesn’t, and we move on. But I for one will not dismiss out of hand something that could improve lives on a few levels, simply because starch is a “4-letter word.”
Update: Well, unless someone has a better idea, doesn’t look like mashed potatoes from cooking at less than 140F are going to happen. I used the SVS 2 ways. First time, just a peeled potato in the water at 135 for about 3 hours. Used the food processor, some butter, cream, seasoning. Not even close. Yuk, actually. Tossed it. So then I took a potato and sliced it, vacuum sealed it, and put it in the same 135 for about 20 hours hoping that would be enough time to soften the fibers. Nope. Pretty much same result. There may be uses for potato slices like this in dishes, but not mashed.
Tatertot comments on the news:
@Richard – I wouldn’t say the sous-vide experiment was a total waste of time. I made some last night that turned out pretty good. Not as mashed potatoes, but as crispy potato slices.
I peeled and sliced a bunch of potatoes very thin. Heated water in a large pan to 140 degrees, took it off the heat and dropped potatoes in. I let them sit covered in the hot water as it cooled. After 2 hours, I drained them. At this point they were flexible and crisp. I chopped them into smaller pieces, seasoned with salt, pepper and cayenne. I thought they were very tasty.
These would make an excellent base for potato salad. I saved about a pound’s worth for my lunch today. I sprinkled them with vinegar last night and plan on eating them cold today in a couple of hours to check my BG afterwards. They remind me of German Potato Salad.
I call it a ‘WIN’.