Resistant Starch Podcast #8

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Our gut is home to millions of good and bad bacteria.  The goal of resistant starch is to act like a prebiotic, where it feeds the beneficial bacteria in the gut which then produces short chain fatty acids, specifically butyrate, that is so beneficial to digestive health. 

The elevated levels of butyrate create a better gut environment for good bacteria while making it more inhospitable for bad bacteria in which to live.  Like soluble fibers, resistant starch helps reduce one’s appetite as it increases feelings of satiety that can result in weight loss.  Good sources of resistant starches include cooled potato flour and unripen banana flour.


In this episode we cover:

03:04   What is resistance starch?

09:10   Mechanism of resistant starch

15:39   Resistant starch for weight loss

20:00   Unripen banana flour and cooled potato starch









Baris Harvey:  Thank you guys for tuning in to another episode of Beyond Wellness Radio.  You guys can check us out at for more information.  Today we are going to be talking about resistant starch.  We are going to give you guys kind of a 101 about this resistant starch.  A lot of people are kind of confused about the entire topic.  So we are going to kind of break it down for you guys so that way there is easier understanding of the topic.  So first of all, how is it going today, Dr. Justin?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Baris, it is going great, my man.  How are you doing?

Baris Harvey:  Yes, I am doing very well.  So talking about resistant starch the question that comes up what was your breakfast like?  Did you have any this morning or was it something different?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Today was not too much different.  I mean I try to mix up the eggs and such but I did my raw eggs Rocky style, pasture-fed eggs.  It was such an easy breakfast and it is super nutrient dense with some good quality Bulletproof Coffee.  Tomorrow I will probably just use some high quality whey protein and some collagen instead just to kind of give my gut a break from any egg proteins.  So I try to mix it up.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  How about you?  What did you have for breakfast?

Baris Harvey:  Just because it seems like I fast every time before we have a podcast.  I am going to tell the listeners what I ate yesterday for breakfast.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Good.

Baris Harvey:   So that way it is going to be fun because then it is just me augmenting every single time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Good.

Baris Harvey:   But yesterday I had a late breakfast.  So what I did was I made some curry chicken.  So had the coconut milk, had the turmeric and curry spices and the broth all in there.  Some different herbs and I just cooked up some chicken breast and threw that in the mix and then had that over a little bit of white rice and then I just had some grilled veggies on the side.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Love it, man.  Making my mouth water already.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.  I did not want to hold out too much because I just realized like every time it is like, “Well, I just fasted.”  And then everyone is like, “Does this guy even eat?”  (Laughs)

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:   (Laughs)  I know, right.

Baris Harvey:  Yes, definitely.  So starting off, this sounds like almost a scary word.  Like what is resistant starch?   Why does my food have such a strange name?  But let us get into it just a little bit.  What is resistant starch?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So I consider resistant starch as essentially a prebiotic.  So what that means is you have beneficial and/or negative bacteria, right?  We have dysbiotic bacteria, bad stuff or pathogenic bacteria that create metabolites and toxins like endotoxins and LPS which make your gut leaky.  And we have healthy beneficial bacteria which can ferment and produce lots of nutrients like B vitamins and vitamin K.  That is why having good healthy gut bacteria is important because you actually get nutrient spit off from this bacteria.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:   Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So really, really cool stuff.  So when we talk about prebiotics and resistant starch these are certain nutrients that actually feed the beneficial bacteria.  So we feed that beneficial bacteria; the goal is that we are going to get more of the good stuff that these bacteria typically produce.  So that is kind of the whole premise of resistant starch.  And it is really there because we are usually typically just focused on let us just throw a whole bunch of good bacteria in the gut.  Whereas the resistant starch focuses more on how can we feed and kind of cultivate the bacteria that are already there.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.  And then so just hearing the name resistant starch we can break that down pretty simply and know that well, it is a type of starch, right?  It comes from a carbohydrate food and it is resistant to digestion.  So what kind of makes it, because in my head I am thinking, okay this is coming from carbohydrates.  What makes this a little bit different than fiber, right?  Because there is soluble fiber and there is like insoluble fiber.  Is this somewhat similar to the soluble fiber now?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, so the soluble fiber that is the type of fiber where like our body is able to absorb it.  But soluble fiber helps more with binding things up, right?

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So we have like citrus pectin which a lot of these things are actually, or apple pectin, these things are used in a lot of detoxification protocols because they help bind things up.  They are actually going to bind hormones up, too.

Baris Harvey:  Like a sponge.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes, like a sponge, yes.  So they tend to be a little less abrasive, right?  So those are like our non-soluble or I should say soluble starches right there.  And then we have our insoluble starches.  Those are the ones our bodies just cannot even touch.  So like our insoluble will be like our psyllium husk for instance.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:   And our insoluble they are going to be adding more bulk to stool.  So insoluble like adds bulk to the stool, makes the stool a little bit thicker and like more hardy, if you will.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:   And then we have our soluble which is more for like binding things up.  So you are going to get more of your soluble starch in like your vegetables.  Like in your celery, in your greens, you know all of these different places.  So that is where getting a lot of your vegetables and low glycemic fruits are going to really benefit the soluble side.  But when it comes to the resistant starch, these are the ones our bodies really cannot break down much at all.  And they actually have more beneficial effect on the bacteria in our guts.  So we have four main types, right?  Type one is typically going to be found in your grains, your seeds and your legumes, right?

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:   Now I am not necessarily a huge fan of the type one because they are let us just say they can cause more gas.  And then also a lot of the foods in the type one are just more inflammatory; grains, gluten.  A lot of them are not too good for you.  So I am not a big fan of type one.  We have type two and three which tend to be my favorite.  And those are the ones that I tinker with right now.  So like in type two, these are like more starchy foods like raw potatoes and/or unripen bananas.  Right now I am using a resistant starch from a company called Wedo and it is basically ground up unripen banana powder.  And it is nice because it is a little bit more on the lower glycemic side and for patients that are potentially autoimmune, right?  The whole autoimmune protocols, we are going to avoid the night shades which are tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants, peppers.  So the green bananas can really be a good option for people that are autoimmune but still want to have some of the benefits of the resistant starch.  So going with the Wedo unripen banana powder one to two tablespoons in the morning mixed with some water can be a great alternative.  That is your type two.  Your type three is basically going to come from foods that are cooked and then cooled.      

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Right.  So these are going to be like typically potatoes that are cooked up and then cooled.  There is a company called Bob’s Red Mill it certifies you know the quality, making sure it is gluten-free based on Elisa testing.  And it is already cooked and then cooled and it is already in a powder form.  So I use the Bob’s Red Mill Potato flour and I will mix one to two tablespoons of that in some water and that can be beneficial.  And I am kind of switching off back and forth right now just seeing which ones I like and seeing how my body responds to them.  So I will keep all of the listeners up-to-date on my experimentation.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.  Yes, sounds good.  It is funny that you mentioned the banana and I kind of like the unripen banana because I have used this Garden of Life probiotic formula and the one that is in a powdered form.  And there is actually some like unripen banana in there and it is probably to feed that bacteria that is in their probiotic formula.  And many times I just thought, “Oh, it is kind of like a flavor kind of thing going on.”  But there is probably a big reason as to why they chose that as their company was kind of based on probiotics with the Primal Defense, right?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  Yes, exactly, exactly.

Baris Harvey:  So my next question is what are some of the mechanisms like how does this work?  How does this resistant starch function like soluble?  It is almost like a fermentable fiber now.  It is what it is sounding like because we are not necessarily eating it but our gut flora is.  Like what was a little bit more of the mechanism?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Okay, so let me just make sure I classify it so people can kind of like create the dichotomy in their heads of what we are talking about.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So we have like non-resistant starch polysaccharides.  These are our soluble and non-soluble, right?  These are not resistant.  They are non-resistant starch polysaccharides.  Then the next category is resistant starch.  So we are putting more of our focus on the resistant starch.  I do think though it is beneficial to get some of that non-resistant starch polysaccharides and I mentioned where, right?  From some of the vegetables.  And if you have gut issues, cooking some of these things down, putting them in broths, doing an SCD approach for some people maybe the way to go at first.  So for some people, resistant starch may produce too much fermentation and cause way too much gas and bloating.  So just kind of contrasting both types of fibers and kind of which direction to go and maybe resistant starch is not the best way for you to go right now.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So back to your question.  Just reiterate that for me and the viewers one more time.

Baris Harvey:   Yes, what is the mechanism going on here?  How does resistant starch work?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Well, essentially it is going to be feeding some of the beneficial bacteria in the gut.  And when these bacteria are fed by the resistant starch they actually spit up this compound called butyrate.  Butyrate is great.  There are a couple of things.  It is actually butyric acid.  Hold on let us create the link here.  Butyric acid, oh that is the same fatty acid that is in butter.  Just so you know eating butter is really good.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So, grass fed butter is really good because basically we are just kind of creating some of the acid compounds that we get from grass-fed butter.  But again it is really good because we get our flora and our small intestine to start fermenting some of that butyric acid which is a short chain fatty acid.  So we have short chains which are like butyric acid that is like butter, right?  We have our medium chain which is kind of like coconut oil, like lauric acid that is kind of like our 8 to 10 carbon chains.  And we have like our longer chains which are going to be like fish oil, DHA, EPA, krill oil.  So short, medium and long.  So we are kind of just focusing on the short chain.  So when we eat this resistant starch the bacteria in the gut especially the roseburia and the E. rectale bacteria will actually start producing this butyrate, the butyric acid.  And butyric acid is really cool because the colonocytes, cells in our colon and our intestines, like it and they feed off of it.  So it is healthy for the cells and the colon.  It is healthy for the cells and the intestinal tract.  And it also lowers the pH in our intestinal tract.  Now lower pH is really important because it makes it more inhospitable for a lot of the bad stuff to survive.  So really one, it is shifting and feeding a lot of the bacteria, the healthy bacteria in the gut.  Lowers the pH so it creates a more inhospitable environment and that bacteria as it lowers the pH it feeds the good stuff, too.  And the good stuff kind of like smacks down a lot of that SIBO, a lot of that bacterial overgrowth that may slide back up from the colon into the small intestines.  So it really helps those three ways.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.  So it is funny because when you look at the digestive system of herbivores, you notice that oftentimes when you look at the way that their body breaks down a lot of these fibers because they have the ability to do that, it turns it into these short chain fatty acids.  And so technically, like when people compare gorillas to us and say, “Well, these guys are vegetarians and that is why it can work for their bodies.” It is funny that when you look at the science behind it that they are technically eating a higher fat diet because they can break down this fiber but we cannot.  But what you are saying is some of these resistant starches end up becoming some shorter chain fatty acids, right?  Because our bacteria are feeding off them and kind of making this conversion.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  That is exactly what is happening.  So a lot of people that are vegetarians they are just like, “Oh, yes you know, fat is bad we are going to eat all of these great vegetables.”  And I am like, “Yes, just so you know, the bacteria in your gut is making all the things that I am telling you to consume, just so you know.”

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So it is like you know the deeper down you look you see how important these fatty acids are.  And I cannot stress how important it is, one of the biggest benefits is really lowering that pH.  I see so many women today and when you look at vaginal tract or yeast infections or urinary tract infections, the reasons why these things occur is because of a more alkaline pH.  So I do not want to get into a whole alkaline-acid thing.  We kind of touched upon that in the last podcast.  And maybe we will do a podcast just on that.  But the big thing that we see in a lot of these UTI infections is a more alkaline pH and that allows some of these bacteria, the bad stuff to grow.  And so when you look at things like acidophilus or lactobacillus, these translations literally convert over into like meaning acid-loving, acidophilus, acid loving.  So when we know bacteria is good and it is literally referring to more of these good quality acids and that is the thing.  It is creating the environment so the bad stuff cannot grow.  And just a little kind of tidbit for a lot of women out there birth control pills actually make your urinary tract more alkaline.  That is why women on birth control pills get more yeast infections.  Just a little food for thought out there.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And that is why I am pretty sure if you look on the label of that you may see that as a potential side effect and other list of a hundred things in the back, right?

Baris Harvey:  (Laughs) Yes, at least.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I know.  Right.

Baris Harvey:  So basically the bottom line for the basic process of what is going on why resistant starch is beneficial is because it is basically not necessarily food for us but food for our good guys, right?  Food for our friendly bacteria.  And they in turn make shorter chain fatty acids and you mentioned the butyrate as like the main fatty acid production that they make.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.  And I have seen people literally lose weight adding some of this resistant starch into their diet.  So everyone is thinking, “Well, how is that?”  Let us talk about the mechanism.  So one thing the research is showing is that it has an effect on decreasing insulin resistance.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  So we kind of talked about insulin resistance.  So how a hormone work is it has to bind to a receptor site.  But if that receptor site is clogged and numb to the hormone, it is not going to have the effect.  So what the starch is doing is it is feeding some of these bacteria that is producing all of these good compounds and those compounds like butyric acid and the lowering of the pH that is making the cells more insulin sensitive.  So we need less insulin.  If we need less insulin guess what?  Insulin is a fat storage hormone wherein we are more than likely be tapping into fat more for fuel and we are going to be storing less fat.  Because it is virtually impossible, it is very difficult to be burning fat with high insulin, right?

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  When insulin is high your body is switched over to burning sugar for fuel. When your insulin is lower you are switched over to burning more fat for fuel.  So anyone that is trying to lose weight and change their body composition, the goal they should be thinking is how can we lower our insulin so we are burning more fat?  That is the key question.  And resistant starch can be a really excellent solution because it is making the body more insulin sensitive.  And how is it doing that?  Well, it is creating butyric acid which is a really helpful thing.  And it is also creating a lot of these nutrients as well.  It is creating more satiety in some of these people.  They feel less hungry after their meals.  There is less chance of over consuming foods that may cause insulin spikes.  And the big thing is colon cancer is a major problem.  So for feeding our colon cells properly that is huge because that means they are not going to be I should say having abnormal cell growth.  That is what cancer is, right?  It is these cells growing out of control.  So if you go in into like any PubMed or Google Scholar database, if you look at insulin resistance it is literally connected to Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular, Alzheimer’s.  So you can use these tools just to make your body more insulin sensitive and you can utilize glucose better, you are just doing some much to improve your health in general.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.  What is happening here is now we are technically eating less calories.  It is not that calories are the most important component of weight loss but it is feeding the right guys, it is making you feel full longer.  And you also mentioned it is helping with our insulin sensitivity and that does in turn lower our blood sugar levels.  So it seems like it is going to be really, really great.  So you mentioned a couple of ways that we can get it.  If somebody wants to be somewhat on a lower carb, Paleo type diet how would they implement something like this into their diet?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Great question.  So you kind of already talked about lower carbs.  So I am going to answer your question but I am going to touch on one key thing that is really important for the listeners.  So what the research show is that the lower carbohydrate you go you actually starve out some of these beneficial bacteria.  So they have done studies where they looked at low carb versus high carb versus moderate carb.  And what they found was on these lower carbohydrate diets some of these E. rectale and roseburia bacteria actually decreased.  Like a significant decrease because some of that prebiotic in the carbohydrate is reduced to the point where these bacteria starve out.  And if they are starving out they are not going to be there producing a lot of the beneficial butyric acid which then has all the lowering of the pH effect and all that good benefits we talked about.   So now we have this quandary because we have people that need to be on a lower carbohydrate diet just because of metabolic syndrome, because of cancer risks, because their metabolism is damaged.  So how did they get the benefit?  Well, this is where it is great because they can go low carb and the research showed if you add some of these resistant starches back in they can get that beneficial bacteria back up and get all of the benefits we talked about just from starting to add that Bob’s Red Mill potato starch in.  One to two tablespoons or even adding in a little bit of the Wedo unripen banana powder can be a great way to get that back in there.  Did I answer your question?

Baris Harvey:  Yes, that answers it perfectly.  So basically you can still stay low carb and just take a tablespoon of some of the raw potato starch from Bob’s Red Mill or the other one you mentioned, you said Wedo?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Baris Harvey:  Yes from Wedo.  Yes.  That basically is a really good overview.  Allows people to know where they can find it.  And you also mentioned so somebody who maybe is a little bit more active; maybe does not have to worry too about the carbohydrate intake, there are also some food sources that maybe something that they heat and then cooled.   So what are some of those sources maybe like sushi, what else, what else do we have?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I was actually joking around with a patient saying now is this a good excuse to go to In-N-Out and then just get the French fries and let them cool off a bit and then eat them?   (Laughs)

Baris Harvey:  Laughs

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I was pondering that one for a bit.  Honestly, it is kind of tough with food.  I mean I guess you could do some of the plantains and get them a little bit unripen.  Then you can maybe sauté them up with some coconut oil.  Those could be a good option.  I really think the easiest option is just getting some of the powders.  I think you will start seeing the supplement industry kind of taking off with some products in these various forms in the next year or so.  I was actually into this stuff like six years ago.  The problem is there was a company that had a really good prebiotic mix but they put a lot of corn in there.

Baris Harvey:  Yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  And I felt very, very gassy and bloated afterwards and I really think it was just some of the corn and maybe some of the cross reactivity with the gluten that was causing an issue.  So I see the benefit here with some of the potato because it is a little bit more benign and even the unripen banana flour because it is even safer if you have an autoimmune condition.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.  Yes, definitely.  Definitely.  Well, that sounds good.  That was a great overview for people.  It is a shorter podcast today.  Just want to give you guys a kind of a brief, a 101 on resistant starch.  I know it is kind of daunting when you hear that resistant starch, like it sounds so scary of a word for your food to have such a name like that.  But yes, definitely a beneficial thing to have to include into your diet and it is not that expensive.  I mean it really is not, it is pretty cheap.  And like I said, you can also if your body can handle it, you can probably do some cold sushi and maybe some plantains.  But some potato starch, like a tablespoon is totally doable and not that expensive.  So if you are having some digestive issues this can be an easy cheap fix.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Yes.

Baris Harvey:  Any other thoughts that you wanted to add in before we wrap up today’s show?

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  I want to just say one more thing, the base thing if you want to really be on a healthy eating plan is you want to make sure that the foods you eat provide really good signals to your brain that you are full, right?  That is called satiety.  That is really important.  The nice thing is these short chain fatty acids are excellent at producing some of these hormones or these neurotransmitters such as leptin and peptide yy and glucagon.  These basically talk to the brain and kind of tell you that you are full.  That is why putting high quality butter in your coffee that is why it is a great day.  Because it can really help tell your brain you are full.  And that is why adding some resistant starch in because it can get your gut to produce some of its own butyrate and its own short chain fatty acids which really will help keep your appetite in check so you are not overeating.  And also it is shown to help reduce inflammation.  And we know all diseases and all conditions are connected to excessive inflammation.  And some of the people I want to thank is Richard Nikoley.  He has produced some great blog posts on this topic and really thrown it out into the blogosphere.  So he has been a really great resource for me to help learn and kind of trace back some of his references and the scientific literature as well.

Baris Harvey:  Uh-hmm.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Oh, there is one little last thing!  Because this is a good thing.

Baris Harvey:  Oh, yes.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  One last thing, right?  Is this thing out there called SIBO.  And SIBO is basically bacteria from the colon migrating up from the colon from large intestines into the small intestines.   That has been one of these big issues.  And what resistant starch has shown to do, it actually helps that ileocecal valve that is where the small intestine meets the colon, the large intestine and actually helps to tighten that up just a little bit.  And that prevents some of that bacteria from migrating back into the small intestines.  So that is one other benefit.  I know we are packing up so much information here.  I just kind of want to recap it though.  Type two resistant starch that is going to be your unripen banana powder.  Type three is going to be your potato starch that is already cool, one to two tablespoons in the morning.  That is the application for all of this.  And then just see how you look.  See how you feel.  See how you perform.  See if you feel better.  See if you lose weight.  See if it will make you gassy.  And it is just something that you can try and it is pretty cost effective.

Baris Harvey:  Yes, definitely.  Well, that wraps up the show today for you guys.  Thank you so much for tuning in and listening.  It helps us a lot if you go to ITunes and give us a five star rating and share this with your friends or anybody that you personally know that can benefit from this.  So again, thank you guys for listening and we will catch you next time.

Dr. Justin Marchegiani:  Thanks, Baris.

Baris Harvey:  Thank you.

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