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Do you feel like you’re constantly running low on energy? The good bacteria in our body live on good food – just like us – so we have to treat our bodies the right way, in order to get the energy that we need to live life to the fullest. What’s the answer to constant fatigue? Today we’re looking at the energy you can find in resistant starch.
What is resistant starch?
Resistant starch is a type of starch that passes through the digestive tract unchanged – in short, it resists digestion (1). The powerful health benefits that we can find in resistant starches is instructive to how we can go about living a life with more energy.
In order to understand the full impact of resistant starch in our life, we need to prioritize the importance of gut health. The health of our gut is often directly tied to our overall health (2). The bacteria in our gut not only help with digestion, but they help supply us with multiple nutrients and the energy we need. The fact of the matter is that when you keep your gut in mind, you’re benefitting your immune system and many other parts of your body.
Resistant starch, as a fermentable fibre (3), helps support the bacteria in your gut. This is due to the fact that when resistant starches avoid being digested, they instead ferment in your gut and form what are called short chain fatty acids. There are multiple kinds of short chain fatty acids, but we’ll get to more of those later. For now, we need to know that short chain fatty acids can supply important energy to your large intestine, which in turn helps provide energy to your entire body.
Key Insight: Understanding the benefits of resistant starch is based on a fundamental understanding of (and respect for) the fact that what goes on in your gut often dictates what goes on in the rest of your body.
What are resistant starch foods?
First, a big “thank you” to our good friend Yuri for putting together this handy graphic of some of the best ways to get more resistant starch into your diet.
It’s not hard to work resistant starch recipes into your life because the ingredients are often simple and easy to work with. As I’ve mentioned before (4), you can work with any of the following ingredients to bring more resistant starch into your life:
- Potatoes (those with purple flesh, especially)
- Beans and Legumes (white beans, like navy, northern and cannellini)
- Unripe Bananas (skins and all)
Seems simple enough, right? You can use these ingredients in stir frys, salads or protein shakes – as long you’re getting them into your diet somehow, your body is really going to enjoy the benefits.
Key Insight: Potatoes, beans, legumes, and bananas are all part of the helpful “resistant starch” family.
Improve Your Energy With Resistant Starch
Now that we’ve found out how easy it is to work these ingredients into our lives, let’s take a deeper look into how resistant starches can help boost your energy in 5 amazing ways:
1. Resistant Starch and Blood Sugar
The role of blood sugar in our overall health cannot be ignored. When we keep our blood sugar under control, we can easily feel healthier and more energized than ever before.
The problem with the perception of resistant starch has to do with the overall view on carbs in the diet, and how they relate back to blood sugar levels. Folks have often been too quick to count out carbs, suggesting that people remove them from their diets entirely. Personally, I think this might be a case where people are simply throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
Research has shown that good carbs are as helpful to the body, just as bad carbs are harmful (5). This makes it very hard to discount the good, and important, work that carbs can do when incorporated into your diet. So, as you can see, carbs including resistant starches can actually help you more than they can hurt you (6).
Research has shown that resistant starches can play a role in increasing insulin sensitivity in the body (7). You are considered “insulin sensitive” if only a small amount of insulin needs to be secreted from your pancreas to deposit the same amount of glucose in your body (8). What does this mean for your energy levels? It means you can keep your weight in check, and prevent the development of Type II diabetes – resulting in a healthier, and less fatigued, you.
Key Insight: Resistant starch is firmly part of the “good carb” camp. Incorporating more into your diet can help stabilize your blood sugar levels, and increase your overall insulin sensitivity.
2. Reducing the Buildup of Body Fat
Our bodies encounter a great deal of fatigue when we load up on fatty foods because we’re essentially giving our bodies more work to do. If our bodies need more time to do their job, we’re the ones who are left with less energy. That’s why fighting the buildup of body fat is so important – as it keeps us from feeling exhausted and fatigued.
As we’ve seen, because resistant starches are not completely digested, there are fewer calories in similar amounts of resistant starch products (compared to other starches) (9).
Enjoying a resistant starch diet will mean that you’re more often filled up, without the unpleasant buildup of body fat. We’re able to eat less because we feel more full. That’s the beauty of resistant starch in your diet.
Key Insight: Let your body do its job, and fight unnecessary weight gain with resistant starch. You’ll be more filled up, more often, with resistant starch in your diet that will help you combat overeating and subsequent weight gain.
3. Managing Cortisol Levels
This ties back to our previous point about blood sugar levels. Did you know how much your blood sugar level is tied to cortisol production in your body? Managing your cortisol levels goes a long way in maintaining your health and keeping your energy levels high.
Cortisol is the hormone that is released when we’re feeling stressed or under pressure. It works to tell our bodies that we need to eat, essentially making us crave fatty or “junk” foods that our bodies do not need.
Your cortisol metabolism is often dictated by your blood sugar levels. So, the more stable your blood sugar, the better your cortisol levels will be. Reducing your cortisol levels has a whole host of benefits, such as:
- Preventing obesity
- Avoiding the development of diabetes
- Sleeping better (10)
What we can’t forget is that cortisol is a stress hormone, and that it is brought on by the weight we sometimes feel when we are put into stressful situations. This isn’t about removing stress from your life entirely, but it’s about equipping your body with the ability to deal with and handle the release of cortisol in your system.
We’ve already included some of the basic “resistant starch family” foods, but did you know you can also find them in (11):
- RS2 Pea Starch
- Unmodified Potato Starch
- Corn Starch (not preferred due to GMO concerns)
These are even more malleable ingredients that you can fit into your diet. So, the last thing you have to stress about is working more resistant starch into your diet – it’s simple!
If you give your body the tools to handle any situation, your body will be better able to process, function and you will benefit from more energy.
Key Insight: We might have unavoidable stress in our lives, but that doesn’t mean we can’t help our bodies handle it. More resistant starch in your life can help you manage your cortisol levels better. Fighting unhealthy cravings and feeling healthier and less fatigued by stress.
4. Go With Your Gut
Like I’ve said before, your gut is going to be the epicenter for a great deal of your overall health. A happy gut is a happy body, and getting more resistant starch into your diet helps brings your gut to where it needs to be.
Especially when it concerns your energy levels, resistant starches can help cut down on gas, bloating and other food intolerances (12). It keeps our bodies from going into a state of gastric distress, which can often leave us feeling fatigued or exhausted.
Key Insight: Is gastric distress a problem in your life? Resistant starch can help benefit your gut, so that you can cut down on gas, bloating and other food intolerances. Don’t feel fatigued by your dietary choices, simply go with your gut.
5. Fight Fatigue from Soreness
We know that resistant starches are able to create what are known as short-chain fatty acids in our intestinal system. One of the most important of these fatty acids is known as butyrate (13).
Butyrate is the preferred energy source for the cells lining the colon, and it can help in the following ways:
- Increasing metabolism
- Improving stress resistance
- Decreasing inflammation
What we want to focus on here is the role that a resistant starch diet can play in decreasing inflammation (14). Anyone who suffers from arthritis can tell you that it’s an unpleasant experience. Soreness can prevent us from participating in physical activities, ultimately depriving us from the exercise our bodies need.
If more resistant starches can increase the energy the cells in our colon and intestinal lining need, which helps benefit the rest of our bodies, how can we say no? Arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases, can oftentimes be incapacitating for some. It doesn’t feel good to be laid up in bed with sore arms, legs or knees, so let’s fix the problem.
Key Insight: Autoimmune diseases don’t deserve the right to control our lives. We can help prevent the adverse effect of inflammation and inflammatory diseases, like arthritis, but giving our bodies more of the energy they crave.
These are just some of the ways that incorporating more resistant starch foods can benefit your life, and your energy levels. If you feel like you don’t have the energy to do simple tasks, you should definitely give some of these recipes a try. The research has shown that they can do a lot to benefit your gut health and your body’s health.
A diet incorporating resistant starches is going to go a long way in providing you with an overall positive outlook on your health. It’s important to remember these four things:
- The health of your gut is directly tied to the overall health of your body.
- Resistant starches resist digestion – they stay in your body and ferment into the “good stuff” that helps your blood sugar levels, and so much more.
- You can work resistant starches into your diet with potatoes, beans, legumes and more. It’s easy to do when you have the right ingredients.
- Stabilize your blood sugar, manage cortisol levels, fight soreness and more, with more resistant starch in your life.
When our gut feels good, we feel good. That’s why it’s so important to feed and preserve our gut flora only the good stuff. It might seem like a tall task, but it’s simple to do. Incorporating more resistant starch into your life isn’t only going to benefit your energy levels, but it might help even more aspects of your life (15).
Dr. Alan Glen Christianson (Dr. C) is a Naturopathic Endocrinologist and the author of The NY Times bestselling Adrenal Reset Diet.
Dr. C’s gift for figuring out what really works has helped hundreds of thousands of people reverse thyroid disease, lose weight, and regain energy. Learn more about the surprising story that started his quest.