Resistant starch is a type of starch that is not digested in the small intestine. Instead, this starch is digested in the large intestine, much later in the digestive process. Because of this, resistant starch has properties that are very similar to those of dietary fiber.
Resistant starch represents a diverse range of indigestible starch-based dietary carbohydrates. Resistant starch has been investigated in the past for its effects on bowel health (pH, epithelial thickness, and apoptosis of colorectal cancer cells); reduction in postprandial glycemia; increased insulin sensitivity; and effects on the gut microbiome, according to the review’s abstract.
A new review by Dr. Janine Higgins, PhD, CU Cancer Center investigator and associate professor of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and Ian Brown, Center for Human Nutrition and department of pediatrics , Anschutz Medical Campus, University of Colorado, showed that recent starch aides the body in preventing colorectal cancer through mechanisms which include eradicating pre-cancerous cells and reducing inflammation that can otherwise promote cancer.
The review findings state the most the most novel and relevant recent data describe a role for resistant starch in alleviating inflammation; the use of resistant starch for optimal bowel health and prevention of colorectal cancer and, further, that the systemic effects of resistant starch may be important for the treatment of other forms of cancer, such as breast cancer.
Dr. Higgins explains that studies demonstrate that rats fed resistant starch show decreased numbers and sizes of lesions due to colorectal cancer. Resistant starch also increases the amounts of cells that expel the protein IL-10, which acts to regulate the body’s inflammatory response.
”Resistant starch may also have implications for the prevention of breast cancer,” remarks Dr. Higgins. As an example Dr. Higgins explains if you let rats get obese, get them to lose the weight, and then feed half of the rats a diet high in resistant starch, these rats don’t gain back the weight as fast as rats fed a regular, digestible starch diet. This effect on obesity may help to reduce breast cancer risk as well as having implications for the treatment of colorectal cancer.”
Resistant starch foods include kidney, split pea, soy, black-eyed peas, lentils, fava, pinto, lima, mung, calico, navy and Italian beans, potatoes, rice, green bananas and unprocessed whole grains.
You have to consume it at room temperate or below – as soon as you heat it, the resistant starch is gone. But consumed correctly, it appears to kill pre-cancerous cells in the bowel, says Dr. Higgins.
In their summary the researchers write “This review describes advances in resistant starch research highlighting the gastrointestinal effects that are now being linked to systemic, whole body effects with clinical relevance. These effects have important implications for overall health and the prevention or amelioration of various chronic diseases.”
In closing Dr. Higgins states “There are a lot of things that feed into the same model of resistant starch as a cancer-protective agent.” Much of this information currently comes from rodent models and small clinical trials but the evidence is encouraging.” On the table now is a menu of benefits and while it’s just now being studied which benefits, exactly, will pan out as mechanisms of cancer prevention, one thing is clear: resistant starch should be on the menu.”
This new review is published In the journal Current Opinion in Gastroenterology.
According to the American Cancer Society “Not counting skin cancers, colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer found in men and women in this country. Overall, the lifetime risk of developing colorectal cancer is about 1 in 20.”
More information on resistant starch can be found online at Resistant Starch.