Diabetes Diet: Benefits of Eating Digestive Resistant Starches

Eating foods with digestive-resistant starch (DRS) helps maintain steady blood sugar levels, and may improve insulin sensitivity.

DRS passes through the stomach and small intestine unchanged, and once in our large intestine functions much like soluble fiber. These slowly fermenting starches feed our friendly gut bacteria, increase production of beneficial short-chain fatty acids, and reduce inflammation by lowering the pH level.

Eating Resistant Starch

You may already enjoy the benefits of DRS if you regularly eat:

  • Raw potatoes.
  • Under-ripe bananas, papaya, and mango.
  • Legumes: lentils, white beans, peas, kidney beans, chickpeas.
  • Seeds, cashews, whole grains.
  • Potato starch, tapioca starch, brown rice flour.
  • Potatoes, yams and pastas that are cooked, and cooled (heating and cooling alters the chemical structure).

We can also add DRS to our diet by purchasing raw potato starch (e.g., Bob’s Red Mill Raw Potato Starch). It’s inexpensive, and a tablespoon contains about eight grams of resistant starch. Because of its unobtrusive taste potato starch can be sprinkled on many foods, added to smoothies, or mixed into a glass of water. This is a good way for low-carb dieters to get their DRS.

When using raw potato starch begin slowly, working up to one or two tablespoons per day. Taking too much right away might lead to some abdominal discomfort, and surprising flatulence. It may take at least four weeks to notice any benefit.

Those on a prescribed diet should talk to their doctor or dietitian before imbibing supplemental potato starch.

DRS Benefits for Diabetes

Beside the digestive perks of consuming resistant starch, there may be metabolic benefits helpful for those with pre- or type 2 diabetes:

  • Several studies indicate that DRS effectively lowers post-meal blood sugar levels. Plus, resistant starch has a “second meal effect,” so if you eat it at breakfast it will help minimize blood sugar spikes at lunch.
  • Research suggests consuming 15 to 30 grams of DRS per day, over four weeks, may lead to a 33 to 50 percent insulin sensitivity improvement (reduced insulin resistance).
  • Since resistant starch is not digested and absorbed into the body it gives us fewer calories per gram, so eating more of these foods might help people move past a weight loss plateau. (A hundred grams of food with resistant starch provides about 200 calories; 100 grams of digestible starch is 400 calories.)
  • Maybe more significant for weight loss is the DRS satiety factor. Eating resistant starch increases our sensation of fullness, helping us avoid overeating, or unplanned snacking.

Because every body is different, and because a few research results do not make something true for everyone, outcomes of having more dietary DRS will vary. However, many foods containing resistant starch are easily incorporated into a healthy diet. We can enjoy their proven gut nourishing benefits even while remaining hopeful, or skeptical, about other DRS advantages.

Sources: Authority Nutrition; Mercola; Precision Nutrition
Photo credit: rusvaplauke

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