Resistant starch is known to impact digestion, metabolism and appetite regulation. I have been intrigued for years and signed up to hear a presentation at the California Dietetic Association meeting last week. National Starch Food Innovation sponsored the talk. They are selling a product (which I am currently testing in my own kitchen), so I knew to be aware of the slant. Yet, the science was compelling and mirrors much of what I observe in my own practice–and my own kitchen.
SOURCES OF RESISTANT STARCH IN THE FOOD SUPPLY
Resistant starch in found in whole plants foods, especially beans and legumes and whole grains. But whole grain really means the whole grain. As soon as you grind a grain into flour much of the resistant quality is lost. A 2008 article by Mary Murphy, MS, RD, in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association provides a good review of food sources of resistant starch.
Cooking can significantly alter the resistant quality of starch. A cup of whole oats contain s 17.6 grams of resistant starch. A cup of cooked oats contains only 0.5 grams. Intact whole wheat berries contain 13.6% resistant starch. Whole grain flours contain only 1.7%.
Studies estimate that Americans consume about 5 grams of resistant starch a day. Recommendations range from 15-20 grams a day. Click on the link below to identify common foods that are rich sources of resistant starch.
WHAT WE THINK WE UNDERSTAND ABOUT RESISTANT STARCH AND METABOLISM
Resistant starch seems to impact our health in key and fundamental ways. Our diet determines the kind of microbes that live in our gut. There are about 10x more bacteria than human cells and anywhere from 500-2000 different species.
The type of microbes that reside in our gut changes in response to our diet. Scientists now believe that these microbes have a lot to do with energy metabolism and how the body signals hunger and satiety.
When we eat mostly refined sugars and starches, we cultivate gut microbes that promote fat storage. Studies show that a different microbial flora probably helps people more effectively manage their weight. The changes in metabolism stimulate a different signaling to the brain. The body is satisfied longer and less hungry–even the next day.
TRANSLATING KNOWLEDGE INTO BEHAVIOR
As you look at the list, keep in mind that even though some foods may be a relatively rich source of resistant starch,there are other factors that influence how the body metabolizes energy. Weave together an approach to food that works by including the factors that work for you.
1. Pay attention to hunger cues and how much is enough. No amount of resistant starch will protect you from over eating or eating for entertainment.
2. The relative amount of carbohydrate, protein and fat still matters for those of us who are insulin resistant. (HINT: Despite 2.8 grams of resistant starch found in pizza, I doubt anyone in my family would enjoy greater metabolic health living on it!) Continue to enjoy mostly protein and produce and then test to see how much starch you can manage. Some people handle large servings of starch, others not so much. The starch we eat is modest–about 20-30 percent of the plate and sometimes none at all.
3. Keep moving. Physical movement improves how the body uses fat for fuel. Physical activity increases insulin sensitivity up to 60%. The bulk occurs in the first 20 minutes of movement and you can enhance your metabolic health even when activity is broken up throughout the day.
4. Start planning what resistant starchy foods fit into your diet. My son is using mashed pinto beans and cheese for a quick breakfast in the morning. I am throwing more beans and legumes into soups and salads. My husband is using homemade granola in the morning and experimenting with resistant starch in our homemade bread recipe. What are you willing to try?