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What are resistant starches? Are they easy to incorporate into a lectin-free diet? How do resistant starches affect digestion and the health of your large intestine?

If you’re living a lectin-free lifestyle, then you already know there is a wide variety of delicious foods you can enjoy while maintaining the health of your gut microbiome. Today, let’s review resistant starches and dig deep into how the right starchy foods can enhance your diet and support your gut microbiome.

The Foods in Your Diet and Your Digestion: What Are Resistant Starches? Why Choose Lectin-Free Starch?

The innermost layer of your gut lining (the mucous layer, adjacent to your intestinal cell border) is populated by beneficial bacteria that thrive on resistant starches called fructooligosaccharides.1

chicory | Gundry MDResistant starches are carbohydrates that can resist digestion in your small intestine. Once they enter your large intestine, they ferment. This fermentation leads to prebiotic properties and the starches start to feed the good bacteria in your gut.2

Resistant starches occur naturally in certain plant-based foods including:

  • Onion
  • Chicory
  • Green bananas3

Resistant starches are generally a great source of soluble dietary fiber. Plus, resistant starches may offer the following health benefits:

  • Digestive support
  • Supported mineral absorption
  • Support healthy cholesterol levels

How Might Resistant Starches Support Your Overall Health?

sweet potato | Gundry MDThe beneficial bacteria that feast on resistant starches live in your mucus and stimulate your mucosal cells to make even more of these fructooligosaccharides. Then, the mucus acts as a kind of moat. When lectins try to cross the moat, they get trapped and blocked from passing through your intestinal wall. So, the more mucus your body makes, the more resistant you become against harmful lectins.5

Additionally, most resistant starches give you an almost free pass when it comes to their calorie content. That’s because they behave a little differently in your gastrointestinal tract than other lectin-filled, bad-for-you starches like corn, wheat, rice, and different kinds of simple sugars.

Turns out, instead of being rapidly transformed into blood glucose (your blood sugar) and stored as fat, resistant starches pass right through your small intestine and remain essentially intact. This is because resistant starches resist the enzymes that break starches down — hence the term “resistant” in their name.6

Resistant Starches And How They Affect (Or Don’t Affect) Your Blood Sugar

millet | Gundry MD

Since you don’t actually absorb the calories from the resistant starches you consume as sugar, your blood sugar levels will not spike upon digestion of these foods.

Furthermore, your good bacteria happily feed on resistant starches and grow. As your good bacteria process resistant starches, they convert them into short-chain fatty acids. And these fatty acids help increase the proportion of good bacteria in your gut microbiome (just like a prebiotic does).7

This enhances the digestion, and absorption, of various nutrients, and producing more mucus means a higher level of defense against lectins. They’re less likely to get through the gut barrier and start their whole lectin-induced cycle of weight gain.8 Wouldn’t weight loss be a delightful byproduct of eating delicious foods like sweet potatoes?

Can Eating More Resistant Starches Result In Weight Loss?

rutabaga | Gundry MDWeight loss is one of the potential benefits of resistant starch consumption. Plus, eating more resistant starches could potentially mean staying satisfied longer and therefore consuming fewer calories overall.

Here’s why: resistant starches might reduce blood sugar levels after eating. They could also potentially increase the release of gut satiety peptides (to keep you feeling fuller, longer). And resistant starches are known to increase fat burning.9

According to one scientific report, resistant starches also encourage lower fat storage and even the preservation of healthy lean body mass making it a potential weight loss superfood.10

Types of Resistant Starches and Their Functions: Dietary Fiber, Prebiotics, Probiotics, and Digestive Health

Dietary Fiber — When you think of roughage, you’re actually thinking of dietary fiber. This is the part of plant-based food that your body simply cannot digest. Though dietary fiber is a sort of carbohydrate, your body can’t break it down into sugar making it a resistant starch.

jicama | Gundry MDPrebiotics — Prebiotics are the sources of fuel (or food) for probiotics. Prebiotics are also fibrous materials that your body cannot seem to digest. When you ingest prebiotics they journey to your gut and remain whole. Once they get there they become a primary food source for probiotics (aka your gut’s beneficial bacteria).11

There are many sources of natural prebiotics (green bananas, chicory, jicama, and garlic — to name a few). Or, if you’re looking to up your prebiotic game you can take prebiotic supplements.

Probiotics — As with prebiotics, you can get a good dose of probiotics through eating the right probiotic foods or taking supplements. Probiotics help to make sure you have enough good bacteria to balance out the bad bacteria in your gut microbiome.12

Of course, prebiotics and probiotics work in tandem to help positively influence your gastrointestinal tract. Together, they help to make sure you have enough good bacteria in your gut – especially Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium strains.13

The Lectin Free Resistant Starch List: Try These Gundry Approved Starches in Your Diet Today

resistant starch list | Gundry MDWhen it comes to resistant starches, you can actually turn to unripe fruit — though you’ll still want to consume this fruit in moderation. The lectin-free, resistant starch fruits are:

  • Green bananas
  • Green mangoes
  • Green papayas

Because these tropical fruits are still green, they have not ripened and therefore they have yet to increase their sugar content. You can make a wonderfully tropical green papaya or green salad. Or, opt to purchase green banana flour to make grain-free pancakes or baked goods.

cassava flour | Gundry MDHere are some other great foods on the resistant starch list:

  • Cassava flour tortillas
  • Coconut flour tortillas
  • Almond flour tortillas
  • Coconut Flour Paleo Wraps
  • Paleo Coconut Flakes Cereal

But wait, there’s more…

Cassava flour tortillas Paleo Coconut Flakes Cereal Sweet potatoes Yucca Jicama Millet
Coconut flour tortillas Green plantains Yams Celery root (celeriac) Taro root Sorghum
Almond flour tortillas Baobab fruit Rutabaga Glucomannan Turnips
Coconut Flour Paleo Wraps Cassava (tapioca) Parsnips Persimmon Tiger nuts

Lectin-Free Resistant Starches For Gut Health

Remember, when you consume resistant starches, they end up in your large intestine. There your bacteria can digest them and turn them into short-chain fatty acids — these fatty acids become fuel for the cells that line your colon and help protect your body from some of the damage done by lectins.

So, try adding the foods listed above to your Gundry-approved lectin-free shopping list. These starchy foods which are particularly high in dietary fiber can do quite a bit to support healthy digestion. Your gut will thank you.