When you ask people whether or not they know soluble fiber and insoluble fiber, many may give this answers, ‘The former dissolves in water while the latter doesn’t.’ But when you ask them whether they have ever heard about resistant starch, some would stare blankly at you and others may simply tell you that they have never come across such compound.
Before discussing resistant starch any further, I would better explain that starches are classified as fibers. In the rest of the article, I would use the word starch the most as it is found appropriate based on context relevancies.
Although fibers are commonly classified as soluble or insoluble, a recent school of thought believes that fiber’s solubility doesn’t determine its physiological function. Instead, other properties such as viscosity and fermentability which prevail as more significant characteristics should be used to determine specific physiological functions.
Naturally occurring resistant starches are a group of fibers which can be soluble or insoluble fibers that resist digestion in the small intestine and are slowly fermented in the colon.
Although grouped into insoluble starches, both soluble fiber and insoluble fiber still perform their designated jobs: soluble fiber tends to slow digestion while insoluble fiber speeds it up.
Many studies involving humans show that resistant starch may have several effective health benefits that include improved insulin sensitivity, reduced abdominal fat, improved gut health benefits, lower blood sugar levels, and reduced appetite.
4 Types of Resistant Starch
Resistant starches are classified according to structure or source, as follows:
- RS1 resists digestion because it is bound within the fibrous cell walls. Sources: whole or partially milled grains, legumes, and seeds.
- RS2 resists digestion because of the granule’s nature. Sources: raw potatoes, some legumes, unripe bananas, and high-amylose starches, such as high-amylose corn.
- RS3 is formed in the cooking-cooling process. Sources: bread, tortillas, cooked and cooled rice, potatoes, and pasta.
- RS4 is a man-made and chemically modified starch found in a wide range of products.
Superfood For Gut Health
How does resistant starch improve your gut health? When you eat resistant starch, it ends up in the colon, where microbiota ferments it and turns it into short-chain fatty acids.
When the bacteria ferment resistant starches, several compounds are produced, including gasses, and short-chain fatty acids such acetate, butyrate (most notable), and propionate.
Butyrate not only being the most important short-chain fatty acid but is actually the preferred fuel of the colon epithelia.
Short chain fatty acids are used as fuel by both microbiota and colon epithelial cells. Certain bacterial species in the colon survive by cross-feeding, using either the breakdown products of complex carbohydrate degradation or fermentation products such as lactic acid for growth.
Increases Good Bacteria Population
There are actually hundreds of different species of bacteria colonizing the intestine. In recent decades, scientists have suggested that the number and type of bacteria may possibly have a great impact on health.
Resistant starch feeds the friendly bacteria in the colon which provide a positive effect on the type of bacteria as well as their numbers.
An animal study has demonstrated that resistant starch consumption may possibly have modulatory effects on certain microbiota population by increasing the number of several types of beneficial bacteria.
Enhances Insulin Sensitivity, Lowers Blood Sugar Levels, and Improves Metabolic Health
Having insulin resistance (low insulin sensitivity) is believed to be a major causal factor in several degenerative diseases, including metabolic syndrome, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and Alzheimer’s Disease.
Resistant starch may help you avoid or reduce the risk those chronic diseases by way of improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar.
Studies have shown that resistant starch may possibly help improve insulin sensitivity that is the insulin receptors located in your cell membranes cells become more responsive to insulin.
It may also very effective at improving satiety and lowering blood sugar levels after meals.
“Second-meal effect” you may gain by taking resistant starch with breakfast is that it not only lower the blood sugar spike in the morning but extend it at lunch.
Helps Lose Weight by Improving Satiety
The more resistant starches you add to your diet, the fewer calories it will contain. Is that so? Yes. It happens that way because resistant starch has only 2 calories per gram compared to regular starch that delivers 4 calories per gram!
Studies have shown that soluble fiber supplements can contribute to weight loss, primarily by increasing satiety (feelings of fullness) and reducing appetite.
Resistant starch has a similar effect. Adding resistant starch to your meals may help increase satiety and make you eat fewer calories.
Note: Adding resistant starch to your diet would not necessarily lead to any major effect on your weight as other methods, for instance, low-carb diet may help you lose weight effectively.