Resistant starches bring numerous health benefits to the body when added to the diet on a regular basis. Health benefits can include decreasing inflammation found in bowel diseases, naturally preventing diabetes, and keeping colon cancer at bay.
Many individuals also experience a variety of benefits including better insulin levels, increased appetite control, and improved digestion. According to a study at the Univ. of Colorado in Denver (2013), resistant starches do in fact provide numerous benefits as documented in the following health journal: Current Opinion in Gasteroenterology.
Starches & Fibers
Oftentimes, starches are confused with fibers. Both are carbohydrates and considered to be complex in nature. Starches as well as fibers are needed within the body to maintain optimal health. Typically, starches are digestible while fibers are not.
The interesting fact is the body will begin to digest common starches at the very moment they are placed within the mouth for chewing. It is during this time, the body begins the work to extract needed nutrients and energies.
Conversely, the body doesn’t ingest nutrients from the fibrous portion of vegetables and fruits. Fiber does not provide energy to the body like starches do. One can think of fiber as the “packaging” of the food item. Fiber consumed may be soluble, or insoluble, which react two different ways.
Fibers: Soluble & Insoluble
Soluble fiber will dissolve when placed in water. So, when the individual has consumed plenty of water, the soluble fiber will dissolve within the smaller intestine, slow the digestion of food, and provide the individual with a “full feeling.” Insoluble fibers absorb water instead of dissolving. This process helps to promote firm as well as regular movement of the intestines.
Resistant Starches Offer Better Benefits
Higgins confirmed within the study at the Univ. of Colorado, five different types of resistant starches reach the larger colon without being digested. The different starches then provide healthy benefits within the body, like that of insoluble fibers.
The resistant starches can provide multiple health benefits including:
preventing the development of diabetes
increasing blood sugar regulation
naturally reducing inflammation in the intestines
reducing problems with bowel disease in some individuals
increasing promotion of good bacteria within the digestive system
aiding better maintenance of body weight
reducing risk of developing pre-cancerous polyps within the colon
increasing bulk within the bowels
decreasing time between bowel movements
Lower pH Levels
Within the bowels, lower pH levels are also seen when resistant starches are digested. This occurs when bacteria “ferment” within the gut resulting in short chains of fatty acids, also known as SCFA. The SCFA help to promote good bacterial growth as well as provide protection against the growth of bad bacteria.
Within this natural fermentation process of resistant starches, the linings of the intestines become thicker which is healthier for the individual. More healthy bacteria increase and thrive while bad bacteria is retained in lower numbers. Higgins research team suggests this development can be seen as a natural probiotic process providing excellent benefits to the digestive system. It is also noted within the research study, one type of short chain of fatty acid (butyrate) is known to be one defense needed to prevent cancers of the intestine.
Dietary Care Needed
Resistant starches are often found in many high fiber diets which are based on the consumption of vegetables. But, dietary care is still needed to ensure there are plenty of foods with this “healthy starch” placed within the individual’s diet.
A variety of root vegetables provide us with resistant starches for the diet, including tubers and winter squash. These special starches can also be found in grains and in the legumes family.
Pastas as well as rice hold resistant starches if they are at room temperature. Choosing a pasta salad is a better option over warm pasta dishes. Sushi at room temp is also another good choice when desiring resistant starches.
Whole grains also hold resistant starches and can be consumed at any temperature. This is also true of beans and peas. The resistant starch within these food types will maintain its original structure at any temperature. One other source of this type of starch is banana flour (green), which is also gluten free.