There is so much research around these days about the role of your gut bacteria on pretty much all aspects of health, from skin and joints, to digestion, to fertility, and even mood and cognitive function!
Most people are aware that these little bugs that live in our belly are important to keep in balance – we want to maximise the good, and minimise the bad.
Most people have also heard of probiotics – beneficial bacteria that we ingest, mostly in supplemental form or in food form (such as sauerkraut, kefir, beet kvass, kim chi and full fat yoghurt).
But are you aware of prebiotics?
Prebiotics are non-digestible, fermentable, food components that increase the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, which produces benefits for the health and wellbeing of the host (AKA us!)
So where do we get these prebiotic goodies from? Well, all the buzz at the moment is around something called “resistant starch”. Pretty self-explanatory, really. Resistant starch (RS) is the portion of starch that resists digestion as it passes through the small intestine, to the large intestine, where it becomes a fermentable feast for your good bacteria.
Starch, in case you were wondering, is a carbohydrate consisting of a large number of glucose (single sugar) units joined together – also known as a “polysaccharide”. This is one reason why it might not make sense to go on a diet completely devoid of carbs – you could very well be starving your good bugs.
What are the beneficial effects of resistant starch?
Some potential beneficial effects of RS (other than nourishing your good bacteria) include:
Improved blood sugar management – which could be helpful for those with pre-diabetes, diabetes, metabolic syndrome or PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)
Better bowel health – something to consider if you suffer from constipation, irritable bowel disease (such as ulcerative colitis) or diverticulitis
More favourable blood lipid profile – I’m talking cholesterol and triglycerides here
Production of short chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate, propionate and acetate. These SCFA provide fuel for the cells of the colon wall and increase colonic blood flow
Modulation of immune function
Where can we find resistant starch?
A number of different places, in fact! Such as:
Apple cider vinegar, this must include the “live mother culture” - Apple cider vinegar not only has prebiotics from the pectin it contains, it works as a bit of a bonus prebiotic as it assists the conversion of resistant starch into butyric acid, or butyrate (supporting the health and healing of cells in your small and large intestine)
Therefore, eating any resistant starch food with apple cider vinegar, (such as German potato salad), only benefits the process of feeding your good gut flora.
Green bananas (you can throw these into a smoothie – Diane Sanfilippo has some great recipes in her 21 Day Sugar Detox book)
Cooked and cooled white potatoes (they must be cooled, which causes something called “retrogradation”, which makes the starch in the ‘tater resistant to digestion. Hot ‘taters won’t cut it, though they are nevertheless delicious and should still be enjoyed!)
Cooked and cooled white rice (as for potatoes)
Legumes, such as beans, lentils and chickpeas (if you can tolerate these, it might be worth incorporating them into your diet on the odd occasion to promote gut health)
Fibre supplements, such as inulin and potato starch
Green banana flour
This last one – green banana flour – is something I have been more interested in of late. Not only does it provide RS, but it can act as an awesome flour alternative to use in baking – great for anyone who wants to bake grain-free and is not keen on coconut flour and/or nut flours.
The lovely Jo Fitton recently shared a delicious recipe with me, which I am more than happy to share with you here. These make a delicious snack and are COMPLETELY SUGAR-FREE! PLUS – because they are free of nuts, they could make great additions to your child’s school lunchbox! Whaddya think?
Banana Flour Carrot Muffins (makes 12 yummy muffins)
- 1 ½ cups pre roasted chopped carrot (I roasted mine in coconut oil)
- 1 T of vanilla essence (or a good sprinkle of pure vanilla bean powder)
- ¾ cup of banana flour
- ½ tsp baking soda
- ½ cup of oil (coconut, macadamia or ghee)
- 4 eggs
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ½ cup of liquid (water, milk, coconut milk or coconut water depending on your preference)
- 1/8 tsp sea salt
Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C (160 if fan forced oven)
Mix carrots, oil, salt, vanilla in processor until it turns into a paste.
Sift in banana flour and baking soda
Mix for 30 seconds
Add in eggs and mix
The mixture will look rather thick at this stage and the liquid will need to be added until desired consistency is reached (like a thick batter).
Pour into lined muffin tray and bake for 15-20mins. Keep checking the muffins as they are cooking because they can quickly dry out.
A note from Jo: “To add variation, try other roasted vegetables like pumpkin. Add the zest of a lemon into the mix to give it an extra ZING!”
What are your thoughts? Have you experimented with using resistant starch in your diet? If not, why not? Will you now? You’d be crazy not to make these muffins!
This article was originally published on The Holistic Nutritionist.