by Nanci Katra
Happy New Year, wonderful people! Now that the festivities are over, many of us are focusing on getting ‘back on track’. I’m not a fan of shotgun detox diets or short term fixes, as I believe that, like with most other things in life, nothing really changes unless we fix the cause! When taking a holistic approach to rebooting the body’s detoxification pathways and curbing cravings, you can’t really go past resistant starch! It’s found in legumes, some nuts, vegetables, grains, oats and green bananas (to name a few). It is a portion of starch that can not be digested by pancreatic enzymes, and because of this has the ability to reach the colon. Below, I’ve explained my top 5 reasons that this is essential not just after periods of festivity, but in your every day diet!
Improved Insulin Sensitivity and Improved Metabolism
Insulin is a hormone secreted by the pancreas, and controls how we absorb and distribute sugar and fat. We rely on insulin to pull glucose (sugar) out of our blood and into whichever part of our body requires energy (e.g. muscles during exercise). When this response isn’t working properly, and insulin isn’t being released adequately enough to pull sugar out of the blood stream to be used for energy, we retain the sugar in our blood and develop what’s known as hyperglycaemia (high blood sugar), which is dangerous to our health and can lead to a plethora of further ailments.
Ideally, we would like to train the body to release the right amount of insulin for sugar consumed. Resistant starch can impressively increase the sensitivity of insulin (meaning efficiency is improved) through the modulation of gut microbia. Super cool.
As resistant starch is unable to be digested, it continues to take up space in our digestive tract until we have a bowel movement – this makes it pretty hard to fit excess food in! This is great for regulating appetite after the silly season indulgences!
Resistant starch contains a short chain fatty acid called butyrate, which is the gut microbia’s main energy source. This is found not only in resistant starch, but as the name suggests, also butter! It improves the integrity of the gut wall lining, which assists in decreasing inflammation of our intestinal system. This has been proven to be therapeutic in those with serious ailments and illness, such as Crohns, Ullcerative Collitis, and bowel cancer. Impaired gut wall integrity can lead to these ailments, as well as contribute to fatty liver, heart disease.
Did you know, we can pass cholesterol out through stool? Bet you didn’t! This is what happens when resistant starch is consumed, as it can’t be digested and takes out a bunch of nasties through its elimination pathway!
Consuming resistant starch regularly can lead to modulation of gut microbia, due to the microbia’s ability to ferment the resistant starch and therefore provide energy to our good bacteria. It produces short chain fatty acids (Butyrate), and we now know what an important role that plays to our overall health and wellbeing!
You can find an array of ingredients that contain resistant starch at The Manly Food Co-Op.
Fernandez-Lopez, J. et. al (2011). Resistant starch as a prebiotic-review. Starch. 63 (7) 406-415.
Guyunet, S. (2009). Butyeric acid- an ancient controller of metabolism, inflammation and stress resistance? Nutrition and Health Science.
Gunnars, C. (2017). Resistant Starch 101- everything you need to know. Authority Nutrition.
About the author: Nanci is a Naturopathic Nutritionist (Adv. Dip. Nut Med), Yoga Teacher, Stand Up Paddleboard Yoga Teacher and Singer who believes strongly in the power of food as medicine. She lives by the motto, ‘Food for the body, yoga for the soul’. When she’s not researching her favourite nutrition topics or saluting the sun on land and sea, you’ll find her exploring Sydney’s best hikes and trails, discovering health food hot spots, and hanging out with her dog!
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