“Resistant Starch” Foods – Are they the answer to controlling diabetes?
Recently, I was asked to comment on the following interesting food discovery. It seems that researchers at the College of Chemical Sciences in Sri Lanka have created a process to reduce the amount of digestive starch in rice. They add coconut oil while the rice is being cooked, and then cool the preparation in the refrigerator. This process reduces glucose absorption in the blood, which could help people continue to eat rice with a lower incidence of obesity and Type 2 diabetes. They plan to treat wheat in a similar fashion so that people can continue to eat bread without having to suffer the consequences of excess glucose absorption into the body.
I would like to respond first by asking, have you ever tried to eat cooked plain rice or grain flour with no added sugar, salt, or butter? Try it and you won’t enjoy it. Why? Because they have no taste since the taste buds can’t register molecules of complex carbohydrate, which, by the way, may contain up to 200,000 molecules of glucose. I feel that this is nature’s way of telling us that grain-based carbohydrates are not essential nutrients for the body.
Then why are people in most cultures almost addicted to eating rice, bread, pasta, flat bread, and other food items made with grain flour? One major reason is that grain and grain flour have the ability to absorb water and swell up. When this happens inside your stomach, it gives you a feeling of fullness. This often becomes the internal signal you use to terminate eating. For many people, in order to stop eating, they must feel that sense of fullness during a meal, so they consume a lot of grains or grain products—bread, rice, etc.
The problem is, most complex carbohydrates are rapidly digested and absorbed as glucose into the body. Excess glucose not used immediately by the body is stored in fat cells. This explains the rising obesity rates around the world, particularly in the developing world like China and India, where people rely heavily on grain as a cheap food staple.
Some starches are called “resistant starches” because they escape from digestion in the small intestine of healthy individuals. These are naturally present in seeds, legumes, whole grains, uncooked potato, green banana flour, and certain types of corn. Cooking and cooling as the researchers in Sri Lanka did, or chemically treating starch-containing food can lead to the formation of resistant starch.
It is appealing to envision a world where modified food products like resistant starch rice can make you feel full during a meal while resulting in the absorption of fewer calories from them. This can potentially help people with weight management and reduce the incidence of Type 2 diabetes. Currently, we are seeing resistant starch being added to foods such as breads, biscuits, pasta, pastries, nutritional bars and cereals to increase their fiber content without affecting their taste or texture.
However, I have concerns regarding the world relying on resistant starch for health benefits. One of these is that when you eat resistant starch, you end up with a lot of undigested food in your digestive tract. Bacteria in the large intestine will act on this, resulting in the production of gas, leading to bloating. Other bacteria ferment the undigested food and produce alcohol that can irritate the intestine. In addition, the undigested food is wasted in that it does not become used as a source of energy in the body. Finally, many people may end up consuming even more because they think that they are eating something healthy.
Rice is not an essential nutrient. No carbohydrate is. In addition, tests done by the FDA and by Consumer Reports found that rice grown in the former cotton fields of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas often has a very high level of arsenic.
I believe there are better ways to control one’s starch intake than switching to rice with resistant starch. First, consider eating less rice and other grains-based foods if you want to absorb fewer calories. In my book Eat, Chew, Live, I suggest making lentils, naturally containing resistant starch, a main source of carbohydrate for your body. Lentils are one of the most effective treatments to reduce elevated blood sugar if you have prediabetes or diabetes.
Second and most important, learn to stop eating without relying on stomach fullness as the trigger. You can do this by listening more closely to your brain’s signals indicating when you truly need nutrients. Wait for your brain to tell you through a hunger signal that your body needs nutrients. Experience the enjoyment of each bite of food by chewing it slowly to release as much flavor-producing nutrients into your mouth as possible. Stop eating as soon as you notice a significant decline in the pleasure of eating a food. This is how you can eat less to not gain weight.
If you are overweight or concerned about getting diabetes, Eat, Chew, Live provides exactly the new science & inspiration you need.
Based on more than twenty years of research, Eat, Chew, Live offers a revolutionary new explanation of high blood sugar and Type 2 diabetes. While traditional medicine says it is due to “insulin resistance,” Dr. Poothullil disagrees. Eat, Chew, Live will show you:
- How the consumption of grains causes your body to develop high blood sugar
- How you can lower your blood sugar to avoid or reverse Type 2 diabetes without using drugs.
- How you can change your eating habits to avoid grains while still enjoying every meal
There are no special diets to follow or products to buy. Get your copy today and inform yourself.