If you follow this column regularly you read about the health benefits of prebiotics in a recent article. Not to get too stuck on our guts, but there are amazing things happening in our digestive systems while we go about our daily routines. That includes another digestive-related topic that has gained popularity in recent days— Resistant Starch.
Resistant Starch is aptly named because it resists digestion. While that may not sound like a good thing, it is. Because of its resistive nature, the Resistant Starch passes through your stomach and small intestine, ending up as food for the friendly bacteria in your colon. It is in the colon, or large intestine, where the Resistant Starch (RS) works the magic. Over the last ten years, many studies have indicated promising benefits of RS including improved insulin sensitivity, lower blood sugar levels, reduced appetite, and improvement in a variety of digestive conditions. A publication by Dr. A.J. Nugent cites multiple health conditions where there “may be a protective effect” from the addition of RS in your diet, such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, colorectal cancer, diverticulitis, inflammatory bowel disease, cholera, and obesity.
One source says the magic of RS is in its ability to work like fermentable, soluble fiber. Once in the large intestine, the friendly, probiotic bacteria starts working on the Resistant Starch, turning it into several compounds such as gases and short-chain fatty acids including the key fatty acid, butyrate. As it turns out, butyrate is not only one of the favorite energy sources for the helpful gut bacteria, it may also help to protect the colon lining and create a pH drop inside the colon. Both of these factors have the potential to reduce cancer cells in the large intestine.
Other promising studies indicate Resistant Starch triggers improvements in your body’s ability to respond to insulin—or, to be insulin sensitive rather than insulin resistant. It works so well, in fact that it has a “second meal effect”. RS effectively lowers your blood sugar after the first meal in which it was consumed and then continues its good work by lowering the blood sugar spike at your next meal.
Besides the link to type 2 diabetes and obesity, nutrition expert Kris Gunnars, BSc, says, “Insulin resistance may contribute to a variety of diseases, including heart disease, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, polycystic ovarian syndrome, Alzheimer’s disease and cancer. By improving insulin sensitivity and lowering blood sugar, resistant starch may help you avoid chronic disease and may make you live both longer and better. However, not all studies agree that resistant starch has these beneficial effects. It may depend on the individual, the dose and the type of resistant starch used.”(www.authoritynutrition.com)
Happily, Resistant Starch is found in a variety of common foods to please most palates. There are a few things to remember in order to get the optimum benefit from Resistant Starch. In most cases, this includes eating the food raw or cooking the product, then permitting it to cool and eating it while still cold. Familiar food items include potatoes, rice, yams, beans, legumes, corn, and greenish bananas—either eaten raw or cooled then prepared in a cold dish such as potato salad, bean dip, or corn relish.
It is ironic, isn’t it, that the lowly potato is redeeming itself after years of being maligned as a starchy filler with little food value other than extra calories. While adding more starch to the diet may not be for everyone—for example, those on a low carb diet—there is compelling evidence to suggest that the Resistant Start superfoods are great for the digestive system.
At the Sedona Community Center we serve a delicious, well-balanced lunch Monday through Friday through the Congregate Lunch program. Originating from the guidelines of the Older Americans Act, the nutritional value of each meal is distinctly designed for people 60 and above. Eligible diners are asked to participate by completing a simple form for enrollment. Once a diner is enrolled in the program, an additional contribution of $5 per meal is suggested to cover costs when possible. Guests under 60 years of age are always welcome to join us for a contribution of $6 per meal. Lunch guests of all ages enjoy great food, stimulating conversation, and meet new friends in the congregate-dining setting. How does oven-roasted chicken, hot buttered corn, herb-buttered green beans, and a fresh cottage cheese and pineapple salad sound? You can check out our daily menu and other Sedona Community Center happenings at www.sccsedona.org and click on the Meals tab.