Why Resistant Starch Matters

Resistant Starch in a bowl on the counter

What Resistant Starch Matters and How Can It Help My Diabetes?

Resistant starch is interesting in that it’s really another way to look at the fiber in foods. If you know which foods are naturally high in fiber, you already have a heads up on what foods are high in resistant starch. 


Starches and fibers may be broken down in the body by enzymes that then release glucose into the bloodstream. Fibers may be soluble or insoluble. Soluble fibers may also be thought of as starches and are broken down in the GI tract whereas insoluble fibers are not broken down at all. They simply pass through the GI tract, giving your stool some form. 


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Feeding Your Microbiome Short-Chain Fatty Acids (SCFA) is How It Works


An ‘official’ definition of resistant starch is fiber that does not break down in the small intestine but does break down in the last part of the intestinal tract. When it ferments and breaks down, it produces short-chain fatty acids such as butyrate, which feeds the microbes that live in your gut. These microbes are called flora. Without ‘eating’ these short-chain fatty acids, the flora won’t survive.


One study from top universities of China found in their randomized, double-blind and crossover clinical trial that 40 grams resistant starch (high amylose) made changes in quite a few things in the 19 volunteers with normal body weights. The resistant starch lowered visceral fat (fat around the organs) and subcutaneous fat significantly. It also decreased LDL-cholesterol levels and blood urea nitrogen (BUN).


Meanwhile gut bacteria in the genus Ruminococcaceae were increased while the flora that was significantly associated with the hormonal and metabolic effects of resistant starch matched the expected effects of RS. They concluded that a daily intake of 40 grams of resistant starch was effective in modulating body fat, short-chain fatty acid production of flora in the gut, insulin secretion and gut microflora in normal weight individuals.


What Foods Are Good Sources of Resistant Starch?


Foods that are high in resistant starch include:

           • oats (3.6 grams resistant starch per 3.5 oz cooked oatmeal)

           • beans (One 3 oz serving can provide up to 4 grams resistant starch.)

           • lentils (One 3 oz serving can provide up to 4 grams resistant starch.)

           • garbanzo beans and peas

           • rice (amount of resistant starch varies, depending on the type of rice)

           • potato starch (This is a white powder, and 1 to 2 tablespoons added to smoothies, yogurt, or other cold foods is another way to add resistant starch to your diet.)

           • barley

           • green bananas

           • high-maize flour (This is another powder composed of about 50% fiber, and it’s added to your hot cereal or yogurt.)


The Secret is In the Temperature of the Food


There’s a little secret you should know about resistant starch: If you focus on using these foods in your diabetic diet as a source of resistant starch, you can actually increase the amount of resistant starch you get in your diet by letting these foods cool down. The cooling process allows the fiber to take longer to digest in your intestinal tract, thus increasing the amount of resistant starch in the food.


An alternative to adding the powdered potato starch to your diet on the above list is to pre-cook your potatoes and cool them down in the refrigerator. Then add them to your meal, cold, although other foods may be warm in the meal.


If you eat the food when it’s hot or warm, the starch has had plenty of time to break down and will instead get broken down by enzymes, thus raising your blood sugar levels. But just by eating the food cold, you slow the digestion of the food and more of the resistant starch makes it down to the lower GI tract where the flora is waiting to be fed.


Benefits of Resistant Starch for Diabetics (backed by research studies)


Resistant starch (RS) foods offer health benefits to your body. Because they slow down the absorption of glucose which can raise your blood sugar level, resistant starch foods are helpful in blood sugar regulation. These foods have other benefits as well. Let’s review some of the medical studies on the topic to fill in your knowledge about resistant starch.


  • Iowa State University Professors Say Replacing Simple Carbs with Resistant Starch is Highly Effective for Diabetics2017, the Iowa State University professors recommended that using resistant starch to lower secondary complications from diabetes is a good idea. They reported their findings in the Nutrition Reviews journal.


  • fermentable carbohydrates especially when you have obesity and diabetes can bring positive benefits because the change in the short-chain fatty acids alters the flora in the colon. Obesity studies have shown that flora affects weight!


  • of the complications of diabetes is chronic kidney disease. At the Blake Heart Research Institute in Melbourne, doctors teamed up with professors at Monash University in the same town to see if resistant starch could help. They discussed in their medical report the pros about it:
  •          • Resistant starch causes the proliferation of BIfidobacter and Lactobacilli and increases the short-chain fatty acids that offer health benefits
  •          • metabolites created from flora can regulate incretin levels and eliminate inflammation by expanding regulatory T cell counts.
  •          • Animal and human studies show that resistant starch supplementation attenuates the concentrations of kidney toxic solutes including indoxyl sulfate and p-cresyl sulfate. This ends up benefitting chronic kidney disease.
  •          • By linking the microbiome to chronic kidney disease, resistant starch could be a promising dietary approach for slowing the disease progression.


  1. When a review of the literature was done, scientists found 14 studies on resistant starch that met their criteria. The studies had to be done in type 2 diabetes patients with obesity. Resistant starch supplementation in the diet of those with diabetes and obesity improved insulin resistance in this population.


  • review of cases that was published in Nutrition & Diabetes journal in June 2019 found 13 case-control studies that included 428 volunteers with a BMI greater or equal to 24. Supplementation with resistant starch decreased fasting levels of insulin as well as fasting glucose levels. It also lowered LDL-cholesterol levels and HbA1c levels.


  1. What Resistant Starch Does to Fat and Carb Burning in the Body

Scientists at the University of Colorado created a randomized, double-blind cross-over study with 18 healthy adults who ate different amounts of resistant starch foods. Their goal was to see what happened to protein, fat and carbohydrate burning in the body as a result of the starch added to the diet.


The consumption of resistant starch increased fat burning by 32% and decreased carbohydrate burning (carbohydrate oxidation) by 18%. Insulin levels were no different after breakfast but lower in those eating resistant starch after lunch, proving that insulin sensitivity was improved for the next meals of the day.


  1. Does the Addition of Resistant Starch Improve Cardiovascular Status?
  • professors combed the medical databases looking for studies where humans consumed more than or equal to 8 grams of resistant starch per day to find out. They ended up finding 22 trials that included 670 participants and found that the supplementation significantly reduced blood triglycerides in healthy people and reduced weight in those with type 2 diabetes. Since the trials were not that long, they could not say whether or not resistant starch is good for heart and blood vessel health.


of the problem of some of the studies on resistant starch and cardiovascular benefits is the type of starch that they use. In one study, the researchers at 

the University of Alabama, Louisiana State University and the University of California at Davis fed 68 overweight 

  • pre-diabetic adults with 45 grams of high amylose maize or a control substance for 12 weeks.


  • amount of Hemoglobin A1c that was found to be decreased was very clinically insignificant and did not affect insulin secretion either. Heart rate did decrease by about 5 beats per minute and there was a reduced level of the inflammation marker called TNF-alpha but overall there was no difference in the cardiovascular disease risk factors. The study was reported in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in September of 2018.


  • is actually a high glycemic index food! Thus, modifying it and making it into a genetically engineered version of corn can only worsen its effects and lower its benefits. And that’s exactly what happened!


  1. What Does Resistant Starch Do For Children?
  • that are overweight and obese have a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Although their conclusion was that more studies need to be run to answer the question, they did state that the number of reported cases of benefits in children is increasing.


  1. Indonesians Check Out the Resistant Starch of Rice

  • contains some resistant starch, and in Indonesia, it’s sago analog rice that has pretty high amounts. Both sago analog rice and red bean flour also are low glycemic index foods.


  • their animal study of diabetic rats, they tested the effects of sago analog rice vs 10% red bean flour for an entire month. The sago analog rice lowered total cholesterol levels 47% and the combination of the rice and beans lowered total cholesterol 35%. Sago analog rice also decreased triglycerides 31% while the combo of rice and beans lowered it 19%.


  • were positive changes in the LDL levels, too with a decrease of 33% from the sago analog rice and 22% from the combination. The atherogenic index levels – which measure the degree of hardening of the arteries – were lower in the sago rice group than the combination group.


  • type of resistant starch shows promise to help diabetics.


  1. Genetic Engineering of Resistant Starch is Now Under Way in China

  • at the Capital Normal University have been busy for the last few years genetically improving foods that are high in resistant starch. They want to be at the forefront of this new industry because resistant starch shows direct effects in reducing blood sugar levels after eating a meal, serum cholesterol levels and glycemic index.


  • believe it plays an important role in preventing and improving obesity, diabetes, colon cancer, cardiovascular diseases and chronic kidney disease. You can check out the journal of Theory of Applied Genetics in 2018 for more on this topic from their article.


The problem of course is that genetically modified foods show a link to different diseases that manifest themselves in 10-20 years, such as cancer and other immunological disorders.


Is genetically-modifying these foods really necessary when the oats, rice, beans, and legumes naturally contain resistant starch right now? Why is there a perceived need to improve upon foods that already do a good job at building health without causing immune system dysregulation years later?


The Chinese researchers are looking to develop bread, noodles and dumplings for the marketplace. Their marketing strategy will be to use marketing language that focuses on preventing and improving the obesity, diabetes, colon cancer, CV diseases, and chronic kidney disease.


Researchers in Iran are also testing genetically modified resistant starch at the Tabriz University where they created a resistant dextrin and tested it on 55 women with type 2 diabetes. They claimed that the new product may have beneficial effects on mental health and the immune system response in these women, but this and other genetically modified foods (resistant starch) studies should be taken ‘with a grain of salt’. Note that they did not test the effects over long-term, when the effects of GE foods usually set in.



Adding Resistant Starch to Your Diet


There are only a few ‘rules’ about adding resistant starch to your diet:

  1. Eat Carb Foods Cold
  • much as possible, cook the foods ahead of the meal, and then eat them cold.


  1. Goal is 30 Grams Fiber Per Day
  • for 30 grams fiber per day with at least half that amount as resistant fiber per day. Start slowly though, such as by adding one 2-1/2 ounce serving size of garbanzos at one meal. Whenever you increase fiber in the diet, it’s good to increase the fiber by increments of 5 grams every few days. This way you can prevent constipation.


  1. Think Real Foods, Not GE Foods
  • real foods of resistant starches instead of genetically modified resistant starches. To determine whether or not they are genetically modified, call the company and see if they added resistant starch to the food. Usually this is done to foods such as pasta, bread, and other processed foods. Resistant starches can’t be added to foods such as lentils, beans, and peas, but if any of these crops are a new variety, beware. Stay safe and healthy with real foods.


Use this new information on resistant starch to your advantage! It’s one more piece of the puzzle of how to get a handle on your type 2 diabetes – and put it in the past!


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