For those who have type 2 diabetes or anybody else trying to manage weight and blood sugar, giving up starches is one of the hardest things to do. Starches quickly convert into sugar and can cause dramatic rises in blood sugar. But these fast-burning carbs are so pervasive in Western diets.
Easier said than done giving up pasta, rice, bread, and other simple starches. (It’s a good thing that somebody had the good sense to introduce a line of ultra low-carb pasta, so people could have their angel hair, and eat it, too.)
But what if people with diabetes didn’t have to totally give up starches? What if starches could actually be an integral part of a healthy blood-sugar-management diet? Thanks to resistant starch, the word, “carb” doesn’t have to be a nutriously foul four-letter word. Many health articles and so-called diet gurus preach carb avoidance.
Nothing against a ketogenic diet, if it has dramatically helped you reach your health goals. However, for many people, a keto diet is unsustainable. That’s why resistant starches are a blessing for people living with diabetes; they allow for a significant intake of carbs, and not just from fruit and vegetables, without the worry of spiking blood sugar.
What Are Resistant Starches?
They are carbs that take the body much longer to digest; they resist being metabolized in the small intestine. Instead of quickly converting into glucose, resistant starches ferment in the large intestine (colon). After resistant starches ferment, friendly bacteria gobble up the metabolites of the starches. At this point, resistant starches essentially become prebiotic fiber.
It’s becoming more accepted that to achieve better gut health, taking a probiotic supplement might not be the best strategy, and certainly not the only path. It’s prebiotic fiber that is the first step to healthy bacteria colonization in the gut. Without chomping on enough prebiotic fiber, the good bacteria will starve.
Resistant starches, then, promote a healthier microbiota (the collection of bacteria in the gut). Sure, if you take a probiotic supplement and you like doing so, continue to take it. But resistant starches actually feed a specific type of friendly bacteria typically not found in probiotic supplements. Resistant starches serve as fuel for anaerobic bacteria that protect the gut’s mucosal barrier.
Resistant Starch Benefits
By eating foods with resistant starch (examples below), you are eating one of the best foods for keeping your blood sugar in a healthy range (neither too high nor low). But there’s far more to the story than blood sugar management and gut health.
These good carbs also curb inflammation, promote satiety, support healthy cholesterol levels, and may help prevent colon cancer. In addition, resistant starches improve elimination and aid the body’s complex detoxification system.
Best Resistant Starch
Let’s make the most of our home court advantage here. Miracle Noodle contains a fiber called glucomannan. Extracted from the root of a yam-like plant called “konjac,” glucomannan is what helps you feel full after eating a bowl of Miracle Noodles, even though these shirataki noodles contain virtually no carbs or calories. The reason why glucomannan fiber, which is considered a resistant starch, makes you feel full is because it sits in the stomach and upper GI tract, where it absorbs lots of water but is impervious to the power of digestive enzymes.
As glucomannan soaks up water and moves its way to the colon, it gently expands the stomach, without making you feel very bloated, unlike some brands of regular pasta. Because it’s a prebiotic fiber, it can’t be absorbed into the bloodstream like regular starches and sugars. And that’s why there’s no rise in blood sugar after eating it.
Instead of cooking with blood-sugar-spiking regular white flour, you can bake with konjac flour. Research suggests that konjac/glucomannan is a useful tool in battling metabolic disorders such as diabetes and obesity.
Other Sources of Resistant Starch
Now that our sales pitch has concluded, let us examine some other excellent sources:
- Raw oats
- Green-tipped bananas
- Beans: Navy, cannellini, adzuki, kidney, black, lima, garbanzo, pinto
- Hi-maize flour
- Shriveled/dimpled peas
As in regular rice, rice? Or this low-calorie rice? Well, both. Regular rice contains resistant starch, albeit with a catch. The catch is that the rice has to be cooked, then cooled overnight. If you leave cooked rice in the fridge overnight, the following day, you can reheat it and enjoy the benefits of resistant starch.
A study from 2014 showed that doing the same to pasta reduces the rise in blood glucose by as much as 50 percent.
Is Resistant Starch the Best Fiber?
The authors of this scientific paper think so. They write, “[Resistant starches] offer many practical advantages for use in the management of obesity-associated pathologies when compared to other fibers.”
The authors support their statement by demonstrating how resistant starches can easily replace regular starch in baked goods and help reverse dyslipidemia, improve insulin sensitivity, and control blood sugar levels in people that have serious metabolic diseases such as obesity. The study also explains how resistant starches can help break down fats by improving bile acid secretion. Bile acids not only digest fat, they also control glucose homeostasis.
Don’t throw away your kale salad just yet (kale isn’t a source of resistant starch), but do try and replace ordinary starches with resistant starches.