Medical News Today: What is resistant starch?

In the body, resistant starch acts very similarly to some types of fiber. These starches pass through the small intestine without undergoing digestion, allowing them to feed the bacteria in the colon.

As digestive bacteria play a crucial role in overall health, it is important to find ways to feed and keep them healthy.

Improved digestive and colon health

When resistant starches arrive in the colon, they feed healthy bacteria, which turn these starches into a few different short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids include butyrate, which is an important component for the cells of the colon.

Butyrate reduces the levels of inflammation in the colon. In doing this, it can help protect against issues relating to the digestive system, such as ulcerative colitis and inflammatory colorectal cancer.

In theory, butyrate may also help with other inflammatory issues in the bowel, such as:

While these potential benefits are promising, most of the research to date has involved animals rather than humans. High quality human studies are necessary to help support these claims.

Improved insulin sensitivity

Eating resistant starch may help improve insulin sensitivity in some people. This possible benefit is very important because lower insulin sensitivity may play a role in several disorders, including obesity, diabetes, and even heart disease.

One study found that men with overweight or obesity who ate 15–30 grams (g) of resistant starch each day had increased insulin sensitivity compared with men who did not eat these starches.

However, the female participants did not experience these effects. The authors call for more research to determine the reason for this difference.

Feeling more full

Eating more resistant starch may also help people feel full. A 2017 study found that eating 30 g of resistant starch a day for 6 weeks helped decrease hormones that cause hunger in healthy people with overweight. Eating more resistant starch also increased compounds that help a person feel less hungry in the morning.

Including resistant starch in the diet may, therefore, aid weight loss efforts by increasing the amount of time for which a person feels satisfied after a meal. This increased satiety could prevent unnecessary snacking and excessive calorie intake.

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