The resistant starch or RS sounds a little too much like a magic. A carbohydrate without calories? But the real truth is that RS or resistant starch is the real deal.
The amazing starch passes through our body without even being digested, and that means it has no caloric value. This is the one reason why it has been associated to increased fat burning and weight loss. You eat it every day, since the resistant starch is found in many starchy whole foods like barley, oats, black beans, lentils, unripe bananas, and some kinds of corn. Or even better, you can increase the RS of those foods like potatoes, rice, and pasta and to cut the number of calories in the food by 50%, simply by cooking them very slowly and letting them cool before you eat.
But RS is not just good at this. There is a chance that this wildcard carb might fight diabetes, colon cancer, and some other serious diseases, and also promoting healthy gut function.
When we digest the normal starches, they usually are turned into sugar, and that leads to a spike in insulin. But that overloading of the body with insulin and sugar can cause insulin resistance, which is a very dangerous precursor to diabetes. That is where the RS comes in: because we don’t digest the RS, we don’t get the same amount of insulin and sugar after eating. One human test showed that if we consume foods rich in RS, that will reduce the insulin spike after meal by 55 percent.
We can’t break down the resistant starches, but the gut bacteria can do that. They even use it like a fuel to reproduce and thrive. The consumption of RS increases the number of good bacteria in your colon, and the research shows that a healthy, populated microbiome is important for the immune function and protects against dangerous infections.
The cholesterol lowering effects of the RS are not as well-understood, but also there is a great potential. One study from 2014 in Molecular Nutrition & Food Research discovered that if we consume RS-enriched flour for about 12 weeks, we will lower the total cholesterol by about 7 percent in a comparison with control diet.
When the gut bacteria ferment the RS, they build a byproduct that is called butyrate, which is a short-chain fatty acid absorbed by the intestinal cells and mostly used for energy. But the butyrate cans also block from reproducing cells with a DNA mutation to form tumors, which is lowering the risk for colon cancer. Also, there is a slew of studies on this topic, but here is the last finding. The researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and Imperial College made a diet swap with rural South Africans on a diet which is high in fiber and African Americans on a diet which is high in fat and meat – mostly in the form of RS from corn porridge. After 2 weeks on the high RS Africa diet, the Americans had more doubled the levels of butyrate and importantly reduced other biomarkers connected to the risk of colon cancer.