Body Hack: Resistant Starch

Glynn Marshes writes:

Some interesting discussion breaking out within the paleo crowd: is it possible that paleo dieters have overlooked the benefits of a class of carbohydrates called resistant starches?

Richard Nikoley of the blog Free the Animal is leading the way on the pro resistant starch argument. Here’s his primer on the topic.

According to Nikoley, potential benefits of consuming resistant starches — a type of starch that isn’t digested in the small intestine, but instead passes to the large intestine where it is fermented by that organ’s resident microflora — include increased production (in the gut) of shortchain fatty acids. These, in turn, lower intestinal pH, which inhibits the growth of pathogenic bacteria and and increases the absorptive potential of minerals, among other benefits.

It gets even more interesting than that. Browse through the extensive collection of RS posts on Nikoley’s blog, and you’ll find accounts of people who have discovered that consuming RS (typically in the form of things like raw potato starch) blunts the effect of carbohydrates on blood sugar levels.

And here is Nikoley responding to the pushback by the low carbers. Fun reading for the jab-the-sacred-cow tone alone πŸ™‚

I’m more or less paleo myself, but I’m always open to new body hacks, and this one seems logical. As Mark Sisson noted recently on his blog, by some estimates, our ancestors consumed up to 135 grams of fermentable fiber daily, via “a diversity of wild plant foods, bulbs, corms, tubers, cattails, cactuses, and medicinal barks.” That seems reasonable to me. As does the notion that our gut biome probably needs regular doses of the stuff to keep it happy.

It’s going to be interesting to watch the paleo crowd digest (ha ha ha) the kind of information that Nikoley is publishing. Personally, I suspect it will permanently shift the way paleo dieters think about their food choices . . .

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5 Responses to Body Hack: Resistant Starch

  1. Hey Glynn

    Thanks for the shoutout. A timely post, given the one I just posted this morning, arguably the most dramatic to date.


  2. Pingback: Crowdsourcing dietary science? | Uncouth Reflections

  3. Paleo folks seem to frequently get lumped in with the low-carbers and very-low-carbers. Richard see’s this is not entirely appropriate, and says so towards the end of his post.

    But paleo does NOT have to be low carb at all, let alone very-low-carb. My version of paleo sits right in the zone Richard describes, and throwing in some potatoes and beans (I do avoid rice) every now and again along with all the veg makes complete sense.

    But the backlash he’s getting from the LCers is just that: From the LC and VLCers. I point this out only because when a paleo mindset is discussed in the media– or even in the literature– this same assumption is embedded from the get-go. This is a mistake.

    My only beef with Richard– and it is a very, very slender bone to pick– is I tend to be skeptical of dietary fine-tuning that depends on supplementation with things that don’t really resemble normal food: Potato starch as an addition to a smoothie seems to be an example to me. Just eat a damned potato. If our bodies were do exquisitely fine-tuned to that type of supplementation we never would have made it out of Africa in the first place.


    • Glynn Marshes says:

      I hear you on all points, Karl.

      Regarding your last comment, however — assuming the info on FtA is accurate — eating the damned potato will only work if it’s raw. A raw potato has around 50 grams of RS. Once you’ve cooked it, it has only around 5 grams. Cooked legumes: 10 grams/cup. Sushi rice, 5 grams/cup.

      So assuming we need at least 20 grams of RS daily, if we’re going to get it from food versus supplements, we have to find a source that’s raw.

      I’m going to start dehydrating green plantains as another source. 100 grams RS per plantain. But they have to be green, not ripe . . .


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