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A Gut Microbiome, Soil-Based Probiotic, and Resistant Starch Primer For Newbies

Lots of newbies, new names everywhere. So, just a quick primer so the same questions don’t have to be answered repeatedly in the many comment threads.

But first, take 4 minutes to watch a truly eye-popping video that will make the whole subject and importance of Resistant Starch as simple as possible for you—but not too simple. Then, when you begin going through how to incorporate it into your diet, remember that you need to actually have the bacteria present to get the benefit. Some don’t, often because of antibiotic treatments…so pay close attention also to the information about Soil-Based probiotics, a completely different animal from the stuff in yogurt and kefir.

Now, get yourself on board.

  1. All the posts thus far on RS (90 posts and thousands of comments as of Mar, 2014).
  2. Lots of research here & here.
  3. My latest Resistant Starch-Based Dietary Guidelines (a must read to get an overall sense).
  4. Lots of comments from readers reporting the benefits they’ve seen.
  5. Isolated RS—Like Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch (NOT to be confused with FLOUR)—has zero carbs if taken raw, because you don’t digest it, your gut bugs do and if they don’t, it passes right through. On average, humans can process about 60g per day. If cooked, it’s about 10g carbs per TBS (per the label) of rapid digesting starch. Don’t cook it unless you intend to, like for thickening a sauce (see here).
  6. Another supplemental source is Plantain Flour.
  7. There is also green Banana Flour, now.
  8. Here’s a long list of foods that contain RS. Some of the highest sources in food is cooked and cooled rice (parboiled is the highest, also lowest GI by far), cooked and cooled beans (prepare by traditional 24hr+ soaking), and cooked and cooled white potatoes. Sweet potatoes have almost no RS. Cooking and cooling forms RS3, a retrograde RS that remains intact when the food is reheated. Fried rice from out of the fridge is ideal for an RS food source.
  9. Per number 2, your BG won’t rise no matter how much isolated RS you consume (such as the potato starch). Moreover, it will significantly blunt spikes from other foods, a “second meal effect” that persists for hours, even into the next day. Regular consumption lowers both fasting BG and blunts spikes from other foods eaten anytime, so dose timing is unimportant if taken regularly. This blunting is most profound on a normal carb intake. In ketosis, there is little blunting (see here).
  10. The benefits most commonly touted are: lowered  fasting BG, BG blunting, better sleep, increased energy, well being and calm, mental clarity, vivid dreams, curing of chronic constipation and infrequency, soft stools, satiation with gentle hunger, and increased body temperature (I think I got them all…let me know if I missed any).
  11. The problems most commonly reported are: flatulence and headache. Most have reported having flatulence, but for most it diminishes over time. It seems most prominent when taken with food and least when taken in water on an empty stomach. Taken with beans can be a hilarious experience if you’re up for it. For some, going periods of 2-3 days now & then without supplementing seems to help get beyond it. Headaches have only been reported by a handful of people. One or two reported intestinal distress, but I chalk that up to oversensitivity to flatulence.
  12. Most of the studies use 30g of potato starch, which is 4 tablespoons. Above 60g will probably pass on through. Many have begun with 1TBS per day, and increased up to 4 each week. However, dose, frequency, how it’s administered (with food, kefir, yogurt—cool or warm—or just water by itself) is something each person has to experiment and figure out for themselves.
  13. In general, even targeting RS foods will probably at best yield 10g of RS daily. Thus, supplementation is a good idea to get into the 20-30g range which, as stated, is what so many studies have used to document many of the benefits we’ve been touting. Paleoman had a far wider variety of high RS foods that just isn’t in our diets commonly (cattail and tree pollen, anyone?).

OK, if I think of anything else or if something gets added in comments that ought be here, then I’ll add as it comes up.

Best wishes. I wouldn’t do this had I not seen hundreds of reports since last April of all of these benefits I outlined in number 7.

Update: Since publishing this a few months back it has become increasingly clear that the reason some people have had less than expected results with resistant starch foods an/or supplementation, or even adverse results, is that they may lack some of the gut bacteria needed and those are really not to be found in dairy based probiotics. Fermented foods may help somewhat, but what we’ve found is the the biggest help comes from soil based probiotics.

Here’s a post about it: Probiotics: The Genetic Component of Obesity. Here’s an update post, April, 2015: Gut Bugs, Probiotics, Prebiotics…And how our microbes make us who we are. See, it always moves forward. Be skeptical of all who don’t.

Here’s the probiotics recommended.

  1. Elixa
  2. Prescript-Assist
  3. AOR Probiotic-3
  4. Primal Defense Ultra
  5. (See this Update post of two additional probiotics I recommend, and why: Gut Bugs, Probiotics, Prebiotics…And how our microbes make us who we are)

I take 1 of each, every day or two, usually with a smoothie:

  • 1 raw egg
  • 1 piece of fresh fruit (apple with skin, banana, handful of frozen berries, orange, etc., or whatever you like)
  • 2 TBS Potato Starch
  • 1 TBS Green Banana Flour
  • 1 TBS Plantain Flour
  • 1/4 tsp Inulin / FructoOligoSaccharides
  • 1 Scoop Amazing Grass High ORAC
  • 4 oz Odwalla-esq fruit/veggie smoothie blend of choice
  • 4 oz Kefir (plain or any flavor of choice)
  • 1 each of the aforementioned SBO probiotics, caps pulled apart and dumped in (or, just pop them; I mix them in because I split this with the wife unit)
  • Handfull of ice cubes
  • Water as needed for desired consistency in a good blender.

This should make 20-24 oz or so, so it’s perfect for 2 people (my wife takes about 10 oz and I take the rest). For in person, I’d just go with 1TBS of the potato starch and one of either the banana or plantain, cut the Odwalla and kefir in half, etc.

I will continue to update this post as I gather new information.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More

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