I’m unsure if we will see ‘resistant starch’ plastered all over our cereals as the next buzzword or the phrase; ‘feed your gut microbiome’. But, considering most people can not pronounce microbiome I think resistant starch will win the battle. The two, however, are extremely closely related.
We are fast learning that what we eat effects the health of our gut and our gut health effects everything to from how well we burn energy, our mental health and possibly more imminent the amount and offensiveness of our flatulence! One of the easiest ways to feed the health of our microbiome is to eat more fibre. Cultures and populations with extremely high fibre diets have extremely healthy (and literally more) guy microbiome. In line with this we have learnt that resistant starch (as opposed to normal starch carbohydrates) are digested differently and therefore also feed our gut.
So what is the difference between starch and resistant starch?
Resistant starch, is more difficult to absorb and is more resistant to gelatinization when cooking. This is logical when you think about how long it takes to cook foods such as legumes and lentils, which are high in resistant starch. This makes foods with high resistant starch content more likely to escape digestion in the mouth and stomach, however, they are fermentable by bacteria in the small intestine, which leads to the production of short chain fatty acids, biotin and vitamin K which are all extremely beneficial to health. In addition to this the fermentation process helps feed the all important gut microbiome or our healthy gut bacteria.
How do we increase resistant starch in our diet?
Well, I feel like you are going to see food companies start to include more resistant starch in their products, and advertise as such, but there are easy ways to increase our intake on a day-to-day basis. Resistant starch is very high in nuts, legumes and lentils. Australia consumes very little amounts of legumes and lentils as a nation, which is surprising because they are such a great cheap source of fibre, resistant starch and protein.
What are some ways to increase legume and lentils in your diet?
I love roasting my own chickpeas with a little bit of paprika and seas salt and then adding them to my salads. Alternatively, swap your ‘Meat free Monday’ for a ‘Legume Tuesday’ and try a veggie packed legume curry or a Middle Eastern Pilaf. Lastly, snack on nuts in between meals it sounds simple, but we need a stronger focus on higher fibre foods in our diet and by doing so we will naturally lower our intake of energy dense snacks so we will benefit two fold; a healthy gut ‘bacterial system’ and associated weight loss from less processed foods.