Resistant Starch

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    Resistant starch is a type of dietary fiber that can be found naturally in foods (e.g., legumes, whole grains, potatoes, underripe bananas) or taken as a supplement. Resistant starch acts as a food source for microbes in the gut, which can stimulate the growth of potentially beneficial bacteria and lead to the production of short-chain fatty acids. While this might lead to positive effects both locally in the gut and for overall health, clinical trials tend to report inconsistent results and any benefits seem to be small in magnitude.

    Resistant Starch is most often used for .

    What is resistant starch?

    Resistant starch (RS) is a type of starch that is not broken down by human digestive enzymes, and it is therefore considered a dietary fiber.[6] Starch occurs naturally in plants as a storage form of glucose. Upon consumption, some starch is quickly broken down into glucose molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream, but RS resists digestion and absorption in the small intestine and travels to the large intestine where it can act as a food source for microbes of the gut microbiota — particularly via bacterial fermentation.[7] Bacterial fermentation of RS in the large intestine leads to the production of compounds capable of influencing human health — most notably short-chain fatty acid (SCFAs), like butyrate.[8] While intriguing, the research on RS in humans has been mixed and inconsistent, and it’s not entirely clear how RS influences the gut microbiome or general health.

    What are resistant starch’s main benefits?

    RS could have beneficial effects on gut health in several ways. Research suggests that RS supplementation may increase fecal weight and levels of butyrate (a SCFA), and reduce fecal pH — features that could potentially promote the health of the colon.[8] However, these effects seem to vary depending on the type of RS used and on other factors that can influence the baseline microbiome (e.g., sex, dietary habits, health and weight status, geographical location).[9][10] RS may stimulate the growth of potentially beneficial bacteria in the gut, but again, these effects tend to vary greatly and no consistent pattern has emerged.[11]

    Beyond the gut, RS supplementation might reduce fasting blood glucose levels,[1] improve insulin sensitivity (HOMA-IR),[1] and reduce markers of inflammation (TNF-alpha, interleukin-6).[3][12] However, these effects are inconsistently found and tend to be small in magnitude, meaning they may not be particularly impactful.

    What are resistant starch’s main drawbacks?

    RS is generally considered safe and tends to be well-tolerated. Side effects are usually gastrointestinal in nature, including flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort (particularly at higher doses of RS).[13][8] These occur largely because of the gas produced during bacterial fermentation, and starting at a lower dose and increasing over time can help improve tolerance.

    One major limitation of RS is how variable its effect can be between individuals. Many of the potential benefits of RS are due to its interactions with the gut microbiome, but the microbes in the gut can vary greatly between different people, which could lead to inconsistent and unpredictable effects. It is not yet clear who might benefit the most from RS supplementation.[13][9]

    How does resistant starch work?

    Most research suggests that RS works by acting as a source of fermentable fiber to feed microbes of the gut microbiome. When RS undergoes bacterial fermentation, it leads to the production of SCFAs like butyrate, propionate, and acetate.[3] These SCFAs are capable of influencing the health of our body in a multitude of ways, including the promotion of a healthy gut environment and assistance with regulation of appetite, inflammation, and metabolism.[14] The process of RS fermentation also encourages the growth of more bacteria capable of producing SCFAs,[15] which might explain why the effects of RS tend to be more pronounced when taken for longer durations.[1]

    What are other names for Resistant Starch

    Note that Resistant Starch is also known as:
    • High-amylose starch
    • Potato starch
    • Banana starch

    Dosage information

    There is no established optimal dosing for RS, but commonly used dosages range from 15 to 40 grams daily, with some research suggesting doses of ≥25 grams for ≥8 weeks are more effective.[1][2]

    Supplemental RS is usually taken in the form of a powder that can be mixed into foods or beverages, or added to cooking (although cooking may reduce the final RS content due to heat).[3] RS can also be attained through the diet by eating foods like legumes, whole grains (e.g., oatmeal, barley), potatoes, rice, underripe bananas and plantains, and whole-grain breads and pastas. In certain starchy foods (especially ones high in amylose and amylopectin, such as potatoes or rice), RS content can actually be increased by cooking and then cooling the food.[4][5]

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    Frequently asked questions

    What is resistant starch?

    Resistant starch (RS) is a type of starch that is not broken down by human digestive enzymes, and it is therefore considered a dietary fiber.[6] Starch occurs naturally in plants as a storage form of glucose. Upon consumption, some starch is quickly broken down into glucose molecules that can be absorbed into the bloodstream, but RS resists digestion and absorption in the small intestine and travels to the large intestine where it can act as a food source for microbes of the gut microbiota — particularly via bacterial fermentation.[7] Bacterial fermentation of RS in the large intestine leads to the production of compounds capable of influencing human health — most notably short-chain fatty acid (SCFAs), like butyrate.[8] While intriguing, the research on RS in humans has been mixed and inconsistent, and it’s not entirely clear how RS influences the gut microbiome or general health.

    What are the different types of resistant starch?

    There are various ways that starch can be resistant to digestion, which has led to the categorization of RS into five types (RS1–RS5), with RS2 being the most studied supplemental form.[16][6]

    • RS1: Starch that is protected within plant cell walls, such as in seeds, grains, or legumes.
    • RS2: Starch granules that are indigestible due to their dense crystalline structure, like those found in green bananas and raw potatoes.
    • RS3: Retrograded starch, which is formed when certain starchy foods — like potatoes, oatmeal, and rice — are cooked and then cooled.
    • RS4: Starch that has been chemically modified and may be found as a food additive in some commercially made breads or pastries.
    • RS5: Starch that has been complexed with fats, which can be made artificially or occur naturally when starches are cooked in the presence of fats.

    Current research suggests that the different types of RS likely produce unique effects, but more research is needed to understand these differences.[11][15]

    What are resistant starch’s main benefits?

    RS could have beneficial effects on gut health in several ways. Research suggests that RS supplementation may increase fecal weight and levels of butyrate (a SCFA), and reduce fecal pH — features that could potentially promote the health of the colon.[8] However, these effects seem to vary depending on the type of RS used and on other factors that can influence the baseline microbiome (e.g., sex, dietary habits, health and weight status, geographical location).[9][10] RS may stimulate the growth of potentially beneficial bacteria in the gut, but again, these effects tend to vary greatly and no consistent pattern has emerged.[11]

    Beyond the gut, RS supplementation might reduce fasting blood glucose levels,[1] improve insulin sensitivity (HOMA-IR),[1] and reduce markers of inflammation (TNF-alpha, interleukin-6).[3][12] However, these effects are inconsistently found and tend to be small in magnitude, meaning they may not be particularly impactful.

    Does resistant starch impact appetite or body weight?

    SCFAs, including those increased by RS consumption, are thought to increase the levels of gut hormones (e.g., GLP-1, PYY) involved in appetite regulation.[16] Despite this, research examining the effect of RS on appetite, caloric intake, and weight status has mostly produced mixed or null results. A 2021 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials found that in healthy young adults, RS caused short-term reductions in appetite, particularly at doses of at least 25 g daily.[2] However, chronic supplementation has not been found to reduce appetite or caloric intake[17] and there is little evidence to suggest RS reduces body weight.[7][16]

    Does resistant starch improve cholesterol levels?

    Some types of fiber, like psyllium, beta-glucan, and other soluble fibers, can lower cholesterol levels.[18] While RS can behave similarly to soluble fiber, most studies using RS have found little to no benefit on various measurements of cholesterol, including total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL-C, or HDL-C.[13][16]

    Is resistant starch beneficial in chronic kidney disease?

    Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is associated with alterations of the gut microbiome, sometimes referred to as dysbiosis. These changes may include reductions in the bacterial species involved in SCFA production and increases in bacterial enzymes involved in the production of uremic toxins (substances that can build up in the body of people with CKD).[19] Because of this, RS has been a supplement of interest given its ability to modulate the microbiome and increase the production of SCFAs in some people. In a 2022 meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials, RS supplementation was found to reduce blood levels of indoxyl sulfate (a uremic toxin associated with worse health outcomes in CKD),[20] phosphorus, interleukin-6, and uric acid in people with CKD undergoing dialysis.[21] While this is promising, it is unclear whether these beneficial effects lead to any meaningful changes in health outcomes, and further research is required.

    Does resistant starch reduce the risk of colorectal cancer?

    Higher intakes of dietary fiber are associated with a reduced risk of colorectal cancer,[22][23][24] but it is unclear whether RS has a similar effect.

    Some in vitro study and animal studies have suggested that RS could have a beneficial effect on colorectal cancer prevention (particularly related to butyrate production),[25] but clinical trials to date have not found any beneficial effect.[26][27] Interestingly, preliminary research suggests that RS supplementation might offset some of the potentially negative effects of red meat consumption on colorectal health. One study found that RS (40 g/day) supplemented alongside a high-red-meat diet (300 g/day) increased fecal levels of SCFAs and reduced the formation of DNA adducts in rectal tissue cells, compared to the high red meat diet alone. DNA adducts occur when a potentially cancer-causing compound (as can be found in some red meats or produced through their bacterial fermentation) binds to cellular DNA, which could induce cell mutations leading to cancer.[28]

    Ultimately, clinical trials with larger sample sizes and longer durations will be required to better understand the relationship between RS and colorectal cancer prevention.

    What are resistant starch’s main drawbacks?

    RS is generally considered safe and tends to be well-tolerated. Side effects are usually gastrointestinal in nature, including flatulence, bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal discomfort (particularly at higher doses of RS).[13][8] These occur largely because of the gas produced during bacterial fermentation, and starting at a lower dose and increasing over time can help improve tolerance.

    One major limitation of RS is how variable its effect can be between individuals. Many of the potential benefits of RS are due to its interactions with the gut microbiome, but the microbes in the gut can vary greatly between different people, which could lead to inconsistent and unpredictable effects. It is not yet clear who might benefit the most from RS supplementation.[13][9]

    How does resistant starch work?

    Most research suggests that RS works by acting as a source of fermentable fiber to feed microbes of the gut microbiome. When RS undergoes bacterial fermentation, it leads to the production of SCFAs like butyrate, propionate, and acetate.[3] These SCFAs are capable of influencing the health of our body in a multitude of ways, including the promotion of a healthy gut environment and assistance with regulation of appetite, inflammation, and metabolism.[14] The process of RS fermentation also encourages the growth of more bacteria capable of producing SCFAs,[15] which might explain why the effects of RS tend to be more pronounced when taken for longer durations.[1]

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    References

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    2. ^Shirin Amini, Anahita Mansoori, Leila Maghsumi-NorouzabadThe effect of acute consumption of resistant starch on appetite in healthy adults; a systematic review and meta-analysis of the controlled clinical trialsClin Nutr ESPEN.(2021 Feb)
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    6. ^Halajzadeh J, Milajerdi A, Reiner Ž, Amirani E, Kolahdooz F, Barekat M, Mirzaei H, Mirhashemi SM, Asemi ZEffects of resistant starch on glycemic control, serum lipoproteins and systemic inflammation in patients with metabolic syndrome and related disorders: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled clinical trials.Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr.(2020)
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    11. ^Chen R, Zhang C, Xu F, Yu L, Tian F, Chen W, Zhai QMeta-analysis reveals gut microbiome and functional pathway alterations in response to resistant starch.Food Funct.(2023-Jun-06)
    12. ^Lu J, Ma B, Qiu X, Sun Z, Xiong KEffects of resistant starch supplementation on oxidative stress and inflammation biomarkers: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.Asia Pac J Clin Nutr.(2021-Dec)
    13. ^Wang Y, Chen J, Song YH, Zhao R, Xia L, Chen Y, Cui YP, Rao ZY, Zhou Y, Zhuang W, Wu XTEffects of the resistant starch on glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, and lipid parameters in overweight or obese adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis.Nutr Diabetes.(2019-Jun-05)
    14. ^Bojarczuk A., Skąpska S., Khaneghah A.M., Marszałek K.Health benefits of resistant starch: A review of the literatureJFF.(2022 May))
    15. ^Deehan EC, Yang C, Perez-Muñoz ME, Nguyen NK, Cheng CC, Triador L, Zhang Z, Bakal JA, Walter JPrecision Microbiome Modulation with Discrete Dietary Fiber Structures Directs Short-Chain Fatty Acid Production.Cell Host Microbe.(2020-Mar-11)
    16. ^Matthew Snelson, Jessica Jong, Deanna Manolas, Smonda Kok, Audrey Louise, Romi Stern, Nicole J KellowMetabolic Effects of Resistant Starch Type 2: A Systematic Literature Review and Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled TrialsNutrients.(2019 Aug 8)
    17. ^Mah E, Liska DJ, Goltz S, Chu YThe effect of extracted and isolated fibers on appetite and energy intake: A comprehensive review of human intervention studies.Appetite.(2023-Jan-01)
    18. ^Abed Ghavami, Rahele Ziaei, Sepide Talebi, Hanieh Barghchi, Elyas Nattagh-Eshtivani, Sajjad Moradi, Pegah Rahbarinejad, Hamed Mohammadi, Hatav Ghasemi-Tehrani, Wolfgang Marx, Gholamreza AskariSoluble Fiber Supplementation and Serum Lipid Profile: A Systematic Review and Dose-Response Meta-Analysis of Randomized Controlled TrialsAdv Nutr.(2023 May)
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