No introduction necessary.
You and Tatertot Tim have stumbled, if that’s the correct word, onto something having more repercussions of which we “resistant-starchers” may be aware. The following is of course anecdotal, strictly an N=1 experiment.
Some relevant background: I am 61 years old, weigh 240 pounds (still obese but 60 pounds less so), and my menu is 99% very-low carb, less than 20 gm/day. In the past I ate sugar and its variants with abandon, to the point of gluttony; I love the stuff. As a result I had very high blood pressure and I was on the verge of becoming a full-blown T2 diabetic. My sugar cravings are now under control, my blood pressure is way down, the diabetes threat is non-existent, and blah, blah, blah, you know the story. However, a couple of things have continued to bother me.
Diarrhea has been a curse for many years, due no doubt to my pre-paleo menu, and any amount of sugar would result in an impressive blood glucose spike with an attendant spike in my blood pressure. Even if I spent the day completely avoiding carbohydrates, a single cookie or sliver of pie would result in the spikes and a bad night in bed with heartburn and small regurgitations of stomach contents. It’s been this way for the past few years.
Until your posts about resistant starches...
I have a degree in geology—part of my course of study was paleoarcheology—and I have been interested in our evolutionary ancestors’ diet since those days forty years ago, though I’m more a dilettante than an actual student of the subject. Your post on resistant starches, like Mark Sisson’s book Primal Blueprint, opened doors in my mind that had heretofore been invisible. I immediately saw the implications on blood glucose, the gut biome, etc., including the reason why a lot of people, such as modern “primitives,” can eat primarily fruits and such with no apparent ill effect. (The fiber content, supposedly blunting the sugar effect, has never fully explained, to me, the lack of damage that might be caused by a fruit diet. Are there resistant starches in fruit? Is there such a thing as a resistant sugar?)
I immediately purchased two bags of potato starch. I have been using milk kefir for many months and while it did reduce the diarrhea, the problem was not cured. Adding your proposed two tablespoons of potato starch twice per day helped a bit more but the curse persisted. The almost immediate effect of the potato starch though was the blunting of my blood glucose spikes if I ate any sugar. Another effect was a minor lowering of my blood pressure.
I have a self-imposed upper limit of 90 mg/dL (5 mmol/L) blood glucose. If it rises above that I get mad, obsessively tracking down the reason. I feel really, really good when my blood glucose stays between 73 and 80 mg/dL (4 to 4.4 mmol/L). Pre-paleo my blood pressure was in the area of 140/105 mmHg, post-paleo the pressure had stayed around 118/80 mmHg. About a week after starting potato starch my blood pressure dropped to an average of 113/75 mmHg and my blood glucose averaged 80 mg/dL (4.4 mmol/L) daily. But, as I said, my diarrhea continued to be a problem.
The Monday before Thanksgiving I got pissed off about my diarrhea situation and decided to double the dosage of the potato starch. That morning I put four tablespoons of starch in my usual pint of kefir and again Monday night before I went to bed. And Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday, Thanksgiving Day, no more diarrhea; and the problem has not returned in the 2 1/2 weeks since.
Now to the point of this story. On Thanksgiving Day I ate cornbread dressing, ONE roll with butter, and a SLIVER of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. My blood glucose did spike of course but not as high as my history indicates. I figured it was one of those anomalies one gets from day-to-day and ignored the reduced numbers (four measurements over four hours). What did get my attention was sleeping soundly that night with no regurgitations at all; I slept the entire night, not awakening once.
Damned interesting that, and my attention was heightened. I’ve continued the protocol of 8 tablespoons of potato starch—4 in morning and 4 before bed—since Thanksgiving, wondering whether or not I’d meandered into something meaningful but I couldn’t figure out how to test it. Two days ago, Friday, Dec. 5, I decided to just do my usual stupid act of a full-speed-ahead experiment. I fixed a large amount of white rice, about three cups, and ate the entire amount. This meal should have put me in a light coma, spiking my blood sugar into the heavens and elevating my blood pressure. Well, my blood glucose did of course rise but only to a max of 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol). My blood pressure did rise but since I didn’t log it I can’t report the number but it didn’t go as high as I expected. Friday night I slept like a dead man, rising only once to urinate but immediately returning to sleep, and NO regurgitation.
Okay cool, fine, I’m onto something maybe. Now for an acid test; lets really stress this N=1 theory. Yesterday, Friday, Dec. 6, I went to the grocery store and purchased a large-ish chocolate bar, a package of Nabisco’s Fig Newtons, and a small bag of sugar cookies. After returning home I settled into my chair, turned the TV to one of those bad, but hilarious, science fiction movies wherein a beast is killing young people and the lone survivor is a 110 pound, axe-wielding teenage girl, and proceeded to eat the chocolate, one sleeve of the Fig Newtons, and the whole bag of Snickerdoodle cookies. I then waited for the consequences.
Over six hours my blood glucose peaked at 160 mg/dL from 78 mg/dL (4.3 to 8.9 mmol) and my blood pressure went from 105/69 to 136/88 mmHg. Whoa! The BG should have gone to the moon and the BP should have popped an artery like an overfilled balloon. One weird thing though, my head felt inflated as if it were indeed a balloon; a really strange sensation. I did fall asleep but I didn’t pass out as I would have in the past. (Unfortunately I cannot report the number of pieces into which the teenage heroine chopped the beast.) My stomach was not happy of course but I wasn’t suffering the usual torments either, another really weird non-event. Of course I didn’t eat anything for the rest of the day until bedtime when I drank a pint of kefir with four tablespoons of potato starch.
Now for the final act. I went to bed last night at midnight, expecting a really tough night. The amount of sugar and flour and bad, cheap oils I had eaten should have put me through unmitigated hell, Dante’s Third Ring as it were. I should have lain there for a couple of hours with heartburn, eventually falling asleep but awakening after an hour with a mouthful of stomach acid. In the past I would have brushed my teeth, drank a potion of water and baking soda to alleviate the acid stomach, and fallen back into a restless sleep. But not last night. I was asleep within minutes, even after having napped for a couple of hours, and didn’t awaken until 7:00 this morning. I did not have the usual heartburn, I was fully rested, and the usual morning-after bout of diarrhea was absent. My stomach is still somewhat annoyed but what does one expect after such goings on?
The really big news though is my blood glucose this morning was only 78 mg/dL (4.3 mmol), my blood pressure was at 103/65 mmHg, and my resting heart rate was 67 bpm. Genuinely startling numbers in light of my history. There is definitely something else occurring with the resistant starch protocol other than helping the gut biome. If the good bugs are way down in the colon and the spiking of insulin/blood glucose starts in the stomach or the mouth, why did my various numbers stay low? Why did my usual heartburn stay away, allowing a restful sleep? Obviously a high population of good gut bugs effects the entire body but I cannot connect the dots of a healthy colon and bad food in the mouth or stomach.
Regardless, whatever is going on, my life has gotten much better thanks to your posts on resistant starch. I sleep very well, my blood glucose stays in the 70 – 80 mg/dL (3.9 – 4.4 mmol), my blood pressure is usually around 105/65 mmHg, and the diarrhea has disappeared, all in just three weeks of a large intake of a resistant starch. Simply amazing and astounding and all the other synonyms.
My kefir protocol.
- 1 pint milk kefir (my fermentation of course)
- 4 tbls potato starch
- 2 tbls cocoa powder (not Dutch-processed)
- 1/4 tsp ascorbic acid powder (Vitamin C)
- 1 tsp (2.5 gm) ground Ceylon cinnamon (anecdotally said to lower blood pressure, which I believe has some veracity)
- 1/3-scoop veggie powder (Garden of Life’s “Perfect Food – Super Green Formula.” I am simply incapable of eating lots of vegetables, I don’t like them.)
- Occasionally 1/4-cup of heavy cream for taste and mouth-feel
- Occasionally 2 raw egg yolks for quickie protein
- Occasionally pureed raw liver for all the benefits (contributes no discernable flavor but the color of the final mix is, um, unusual)
Shake/mix/blend well and allow it to sit for 20 minutes to let everything get soaked or dissolved or whatever. (Immediate ingestion doesn’t seem to do have much effect in the gut except impressive flatulence. For me, allowing the mix to sit for a while eliminates the flatulence. NB: I have been using the starch for several months so reduced flatulence may be due to my gut bugs having acclimated but if I drink the mix without the suggested soaking time I will sing a different tune. This fact is very important at night. Sweet Thang, on some matters, is so narrow-minded she can look through a keyhole with both eyes.)
- 1 pint kefir
- 4 tbls potato starch
- 1/3-scoop veggie powder
Mix well, etc.
Thanks for your blog,
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