Few years ago, I developed a kidney stone which resulted in intense lower back pain, blood in my urine, and anxiety from the thought of going to the bathroom. At the time I was overweight and didn’t pay attention to my diet. I also knew nothing about what proper gut health was as I was too focused on overindulging on processed foods, refined carbs, and fried foods. Upon seeing a urologist, he immediately told me to do the one thing I dreaded hearing from any healthcare professional: lose some weight. I had lost weight before but was never able to keep it off. The advice he told me was to eat only protein and vegetables and to avoid all carbohydrates. Hearing this advice made me as confused as I was frustrated. And now having learned more about nutrition and carbohydrate metabolism this still does not make much sense to me. This is primarily because of what I learned about resistant starch and how carbs are absorbed and digested.
Common sources of starch are corn, potatoes, rice, tapioca, and wheat. Digestion of starch begins in the mouth and then is completed in the small intestine. From there the individual glucose and fructose monomers that have resulted from digestion are absorbed through the cells in the small intestine and then end up in our blood to either be utilized as energy or storage in the form of glycogen. Unlike starch, resistant starch, as you may predict from its name, does not go through any digestion which means it never gets absorbed through the small intestine. Instead, resistant starch goes into the colon to ferment and feed our gut microbiota. This process of fermentation creates short-chain fatty acids like butyrate that helps fuel the gut microbiota in your colon. This helps lower inflammation in your colon and aid in various digestive disorders like inflammatory bowel disease. This can also aid in weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity which is both important in preventing type II diabetes.
With this being said where does resistant starch come from? There are multiple sources and they come in four different types:
– Type 1: Whole grains and seeds
– Type 2: Raw or uncooked plant foods (unripe bananas, potatoes, corn)
– Type 3: Cooked then cooled pasta, potatoes, and rice
– Type 4: Chemically modified starch (in processed foods)
But as with any diet, context matters. People who consume type 4 resistant starches in the form of a protein bar are feeding their gut microbiota but they also may be consuming added sugar that might lead to a cascade of other diseases. And it’s better to consume non-starchy vegetables like cabbage, lettuce, and bell peppers as opposed to starchy vegetables like those mentioned previously. And a well rounded diet is best to get an optimal distribution of phytonutrients, vitamins, minerals, and macronutrients. I say all of this to show that not all carbs are bad in the sense that they all contribute to excessive weight gain and poor gut health. So don’t fret if what you’re eating everyday isn’t perfect. We’re here to help you understand what’s going on in your body every time you eat.
If you are struggling with formulating a healthy eating plan, feel free to schedule a consultation with us to get yourself started! And talk to us about how our vitamins and adjustments can help you along your wellness journey. You just may find something that works for you!