Keeping your gut healthy is important for improving our digestion, immune system, and even losing a few pounds (yay!). Making resistant starch a key part of your diet is one of the best ways to ensure everything stays balanced. If you’re not sure exactly what that type of starch is and which foods fall into that category, don’t worry — we’ll walk you through it.
We spoke with Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, CPT, about the benefits of resistant starch and how it acts as a prebiotic to promote great gut health!
What is resistant starch?
Resistant starch is a type of starch that won’t get digested by enzymes in the small intestine (hence the “resistant”). Instead, it goes directly to the colon to be fermented by gut bacteria. During this process, it takes on a prebiotic-like role to feed good gut bacteria. Resistant starch comes in four common types, which differ depending on how the food is prepared.
Palinski-Wade mentions that type 1 is usually found in grains, oats, beans, and legumes — the foods that make us feel fuller longer. Raw potatoes and green unripened bananas are examples of foods rich in type 2 resistant starch. She notes that type 3 forms when foods are cooled down and reheated. “If you take something like rice or potatoes that’s been heated and cool it down, while it’s cooling it forms more resistant starch,” she says. “And then when you reheat it, it forms even more.”
Type 4 is chemically modified and can be found in processed foods that contain corn, rice, or potato additives. (Sticking to foods found in the first three natural types of starch is definitely the healthier way to go.)
“As these prebiotics, fibers, and resistant starch are getting metabolized, they produce byproducts like short-chain fatty acids. It’s the fatty acids that are really what’s helping to offer the health benefits,” Palinski-Wade explains. “Because these compounds are helping benefit the gut itself, they’re protecting against things like irritation in the gut, irritable bowel syndrome, and even colorectal cancer.”
She adds that these compounds are small enough to squeeze through the valves in the intestine and enter the bloodstream, which boosts your immune system because it can help reduce inflammation and enhance blood sugar levels.
Basically, resistant starch is a key piece to the greater puzzle of keeping your gut and immune health in check.
Is there a daily recommended allowance for resistant starch and prebiotics?
Palinski-Wade encourages everyone to follow the International Scientific Association for Probiotics and Prebiotics‘s suggestion to aim for three grams of prebiotics each day. One way to do is this by consuming 28 to 35 grams of fiber each day through resistant starch-rich foods that ensure your gut is always in tip-top shape.
However, she acknowledges this can be difficult to make sure you’re getting your daily dose of fiber, so she recommends adding a drink mix like Muniq (Buy at MuniqLife.com, subscriptions start at $59) to your diet. Each single-serving packet contains 15 grams of resistant starches and prebiotic fiber.
“This on-the-go shake is a great option because not only will it help with gut health, it’s also going to help you feel more satisfied and more full, which could help with portion regulation and blood sugar management,” Palinski-Wade adds.
She notes that after a few weeks of drinking Muniq daily, people typically start to notice improvements in appetite and blood sugar. A consumer survey conducted in May 2021 also reported that four in five people experienced major health benefits including weight management and controlled cholesterol levels after two months of drinking these shakes.
It comes in three yummy flavors: chocolate, vanilla crème, and mocha latte. You can mix each packet with 12 ounces of water or milk and sip any time and know you’re getting the right amount of resistant starch for the day.
Trying them out myself, I found that sipping the deliciously sweet and filling shake in the morning kept my hunger under control until it was time for lunch. (Psst: I really enjoyed the vanilla crème flavor!)
Ultimately, Palinski-Wade encourages everyone to just make resistant starch a priority. “For anyone looking to get more prebiotics into their diet, I would definitely encourage them to focus on getting more resistant starch into their diet to get those maximum health benefits.”
Whichever foods or drinks you choose to get more resistant starch, they’ll give your digestive health a much needed boost. And you won’t miss out on the perks of a happy and healthy gut like better digestion, fighting signs of aging, and weight loss!