As many of you know, when you eat vegetables like onions and Jerusalem artichokes and starchy tubers they compost in your colon and feed the beneficial bacteria that live there. And then there is Resistant Starch, which isn't a fiber and is harder to come by in the diet. It is totally undigestible by the gut, but it goes to your colon and feeds your microbiota — it's a prebiotic that is often overlooked because of its indigestibility. There are 3 different types of naturally occurring Resistant Starch (RS1, RS2, RS3) — and each play a role in feeding our microbiota. Most people already have plenty of RS1 — it's only found in found in seeds or legumes and unprocessed whole grains. RS3 isn't a challenge to obtain — it's formed when starch-containing foods are cooked and cooled for 24 hours, such as in legumes, cooked-and-chilled potatoes, pasta salad or sushi rice. The process of cooking starch and cooling it is called "retrogradation". Re-heating these foods converts some of the retrogradation back into starch, so eating them cold preserves the RS3. However, RS2 is actually quite difficult to obtain in the modern diet, as it is only found in raw potatoes, green bananas, and green plantains (green plantains are virtually impossible to eat raw unless you dehydrate them). Up until a 9 months ago, Resistant Starch — particularly RS2 — was considered nothing more than a curiosity and a waste of time. Scientists have known that certain raw starches were completely undigestible for centuries — and the conventional wisdom was to avoid them because they had no nutritional value. But it was only in the past few decades that a few researchers discovered that Resistant Starch has some beneficial prebiotic effects on the human gut and the body. And one day, that all changed, when a reader of a certain blog challenged the author of that blog to look into the scattered research about Resistant Starch and to start experimenting with it. Read the post that started it all: Prepare for the “Resistant Starch” Assimilation; Resistance is Futile >> The first thing they uncovered was that a good dose of resistant starch has the ability to control and blunt blood sugar spikes. You can literally take some Resistant Starch, eat a few hundred grams of carbs, and barely see any blood sugar spike. Read the next post in the series: Resistant Starch: 4-Letter Word? Nope. Goal: Create Mashed Potatoes A Diabetic Can Eat Every Day >> This led to further investigation. What they soon found was a treasure trove of research. Absolutely staggering data: Resistant Starch: Now We’re Getting Somewhere >> Resistant Starch: Now We’re Getting Somewhere, Part 2 (35 links to research) >> Among the many potential benefits of Resistant Starch: — decreased glycemic response (in both healthy subjects and diabetics) — increased insulin sensitivity — improved fasting blood sugar (10 or 15 point drops in many individuals, sometimes even greater) — increased satiety — improved metabolism — improved fat burning — improvement of adipose tissue patterning (body fat) — improved sleep (deep and "movie-like" vivid dreams) — improved digestion — improved regularity — improved blood/lipid profiles — improved chelation/elimination of heavy metals — improved colon pH (acidic is better) — improved uptake/absorption of vitamins and minerals — improved neurotransmitters (like serotonin) — improved butyrate and Short-Chain Fatty Acid production (by feeding butyrate producing bacteria) — improved colon health (by the production of Short-Chain Fatty Acids) — improved previous damage to colonocytes — improved mucosal integrity (gut barrier) — protection against (experimental) colorectal cancer — increased nitrogen disposal and reduced blood urea concentrations — improved eye health — improved body temperature — reduced stress and improved well being (anecdotal) — potential treatment for ulcerative colitis — does not affect one's ability to maintain ketosis (if that's desired) (More details here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resistant_starch) Additionally, Resistant Starch has been shown make your colon more acidic — which is considered to be a good thing since many opportunistic pathogens are pH sensitive and butyrate producing bacteria favor a more acidic environment. In other words, Resistant Starch feeds the good bacteria and gets rid of the bad bacteria by crowding them out and killing them off with a more acidic environment. Keeping your colon acidic through fermentation and frequent bowel habit is believed to improved gut barrier via improved butyrate production. and here's one that might interest a lot of you here... Resistant starch lowers fecal concentrations of ammonia and phenols in humans >> After digesting all this data, the experimentations continued. Readers of this blog began n=1 experimenting with some raw Bob's Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch (yes, it needs to be raw and "unmodified"). And over the last few months, the results have started trickling in. The results have been very positive — many have noticed dramatic improvements in their health. I invite you all to read through each of the posts and comments as people experimented with Resistant Starch supplementation over the past eight months: HOW TO BEGIN: First, read through every Resistant Starch post here: http://freetheanimal.com/tag/resistant-starch (Yes, go back to the oldest RS post (April 2013) in that link and start from there). The author of the blog, Richard Nikoley, has no patience for those who don't read all of the posts and comments, so don't ask questions that have already been answered in previous posts/comments. For those who are interested in learning more about the importance of Resistant Starch in the diet — and its effect on gut health — listen to the following podcast with Jeff Leach of the American Gut Project: Chris Kresser: The Importance of Feeding Your Microbiome – Interview With Jeff Leach Next... START SLOW: A $4 bag of Bob's Red Mill Unmodified Potato Starch (must be "unmodified") is actually a very powerful source of Resistant Starch. So, ideally you start slow (1 Tsp/day mixed in water, yogurt or kefir) and build up to between 3 to 4 Tbsp/day as you can tolerate it. Taking with or without foods is fine. Mixing the raw Potato Starch with kefir or yogurt will cause the probiotics to latch onto the starch granules and shuttle them into the colon unharmed — normally those probiotics would often be killed before they reached the large intestine. Thus, mixing RS with probiotic foods can be useful to repopulate the colon with beneficial bacteria — and may be necessary for some individuals who are missing keystone bacteria in their colons. (A quality soil-based probiotic — such as Prescript Assist — may help repopulate some of these keystone bacterial populations as well. Raw tubers/bulbs were perhaps eaten, by our ancestors, with some dirt on them). So, you can mix it into foods, but be sure to never heat RS above 130º F or the starch granules will burst and it turns into pure, digestible starch. Many people take RS split into 2 or 3 doses throughout the day. Some take it all at once. For most people, it takes 3-4 weeks of supplementation at 3 to 4 Tbsp/day to see the big changes. Remember that raw unmodified potato starch is entirely "indigestible" — it doesn't count towards your calories or carbs. It has a glycemic index of "0" and has zero carbs — until you cook it. It doesn't feed you, it feeds your microbiota. UNDERSTAND THE RISKS: If you are currently experiencing severe gut pain and/or your gut is in horrific shape, DO NOT attempt to take resistant starch at this stage. This probably isn't going to be for you until your bad gut pathogens are under control and your doctor says you are ready to rebuild your gut with "prebiotics". The biggest risk of supplementing with Resistant Starch is aggravating SIBO or IBS. Chris Kresser explains: Having said that, many with SIBO have reported improvement in their gut function, with the addition of Resistant Starch. Chris Kresser explains this paradox: For those who are concerned about this, you might find the following interesting... Resistant Starch doesn't stay in the small intestine for very long, so it may actually treat small intestinal bacterial overgrowth by “flushing” the pathogenic out of the small intestine as bacteria in the small intestine try to latch on to it for food. The next biggest risk of supplementing with Resistant Starch is GAS (TMI) and perhaps some bloating. Those of you with particularly bad guts will need to go very slowly. However, keep in mind that some gas is good and a sign that things are improving — 20 good farts in a day is believed to be "normal" (according to Wikipedia). And Jeff Leach explains in the interview, above, you aren't fermenting unless you are farting. So, flatulence isn't necessarily something you want to avoid. It can be fine and probably encouraged to some degree. In the comments on Free The Animal, you will find plenty of experiences where the flatulence subsided after a few weeks. Some have found that the type of food you eat — and when you take your Resistant Starch — will effect gas production. For instance taking RS with refined sugars and/or fructose tends to increase gas. Experiment and find out what works best for you. Finally, if you have a sensitivity to nightshades, and don't react well to unmodified potato starch, you may have luck with raw Bob's Red Mill Tapioca Starch (sold as "Tapioca Flour"), which has a similar RS profile to potato starch — provided it isn't heated. ASK QUESTIONS: Feel free to post questions on Free The Animal posts that are related to Resistant Starch. But, again, do not post questions that were already answered, in earlier posts on that blog (Richard will scold you appropriately). "Tatertot" is the Resistant Starch expert and reader who started this. And "Grace/Dr.BG" is also there to help with SIBO issues (including on her blog series, "How To Cure SIBO [w/ Resistant Starch]"). You can easily reach them by posting a comment there. BONUS: Consider helping the research on Resistant Starch by submitting a sample to the American Gut Project before and after your own n=1 experiments with Resistant Starch and sharing those results publicly (either here and/or at Free The Animal). You can order a few AGP tests for a discount. An even better test is the Metametrix/GDX GI Fx Stool test for a complete profile. Very few people have ever documented such a change, and Dr. Grace will assist you if you are interested. Good luck. And be sure to keep the window open! ----------------------------------- DISCLAIMER: The information in this post should not be regarded as health or medical advice. I am not qualified to provide either. Consume this food at your own risk!