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Juxtaposition: Dallas & Melissa Hartwig vs. Nora Gedgaudas

Way back when, I took a first-impression dislike to Dallas, Melissa and the Whole 9.

They were annoying. Came on the scene quick, rose just as quickly, and they were fucking strict; and those were the reports I was getting in my comments. But I didn't have much time to look into it. "They'll go away." They didn't.

Then one day I looked, looked some more, and I understood. There is a time and place for strict dealing and that's what they deal in. For a time; the idea being, to remove as many confounding variables as possible so you can really see the difference between strict real food and packaged junk in very high resolution, over 30 days. Now, thousands of folks do a Whole30 once or more per year.

As is often my style, I can easily go from hate to love in a heartbeat. The inverse is a lot harder, though. Concerning the former, I still have fond memories of Dallas heaping grinning shit on me for wearing a suit for my AHS12 presentation. I'm typically walking around in cargo shorts barefoot.

New Whole30® Program Rules

White potatoes are now allowed on the Whole30 program [...]

We are always thinking about the Whole30 program—how to make it better, more effective, easier to follow, and more logical in its framework. The discussion of white potatoes began about a year ago amongst our team and valued advisors, and the debate raged hard and long. White potatoes are a whole, real, nutrient-dense food! It doesn’t make logical sense to leave them out while other carb-dense foods like taro, yuca, or sweet potato are allowed. [...]

Eventually, we arrived at a consensus. Potatoes of all varieties are in, but fries and chips are not. [...]

And you now what? Just a light coating of those taters (toss in a wok) with coconut oil, ghee, lard, or red palm oil makes awesome oven fries (450-500 for 10, toss, go another 10). I began blogging about adding potatoes in 2009, while doing Leangains, and found myself leaning out while eating a lot of them. I realized it was not about starch, but processed food.

Let's juxtapose. I hate doing this, because I really adore Nora and her partner on a personal level and they have only ever treated me like a King; but girls: you have to embrace new knowledge and understanding, and the VLC club is running on fumes vis-a-vis Paleo/Primal. Plus, if you get the thousands of comments like I do, you must know that all is not paradise in paradise. I can't count the number of people who've helped themselves by curing their starch deficiency.

Plus, it's just getting to ridiculous proportions with people who ought know better ignoring plain facts and science.

I even have a professor at a well known institution scouring the literature to see if there's a case of obligate carnivores ever having been measured in ketosis—the the Inuit have never, in nearly 100 years of trying (if you bother to read the above links). Nope, not found so far.

But, she has found that even seals aren't in ketosis, and even in a fasted state.

As far as I can see, there have never been any wild animals documented to be in ketosis when not not starving, I've searched literature, libraries... I've asked old colleagues with arcane knowledge. Nada.

I may of course be wrong about this, but dang, if it's been shown in any fed wild animal, it's a rare study....

Heck, some of them avoid ketosis even for prolonged fasting (!) - these seal pups do it by recycling glucose (granted, they probably need to do that due to diving demands, but the result is they can stay out of ketosis during prolonged fasting).

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23180193

"High levels of Cori cycle activity and EGP may be important components of metabolic adaptations that maintain glucose production while avoiding ketosis during extended fasting or are related to sustained metabolic alterations associated with extended breath-holds in elephant seals."

Sometimes, I just want to answer any ketosis questions with :

"Ketosis is an adaptation for starvation. Short-term fasting is very good, but long-term 'nutritional ketosis' is a modern experiment. Period."

So here's Nora in, to me, a very curious state of being. I'd describe it in three points:

  1. 2008-11 Cocksure
  2. Palpably frustrated to the point of stammering
  3. Doesn't actually have time to look into it (see #1)

You can judge for yourselves. It's at the 38ish minute point in her podcast with Dave Asprey. They talk resistant starch and safe starches for about 10ish minutes.

I reiterate: up to you to judge and this by no means makes Nora a net disvalue, to me. Not by a long stretch. I know it's rather lame to say that I post this to help, but it's really true. I was on fire 2 days go. I slept on it twice, trying to figure out a way to simply motivate the whole community to get past the dogmas that we ALL bought into.

Please end this by scrolling up and refreshing yourself with how it's generally going, Dallas and Melissa being just the most recent examples. Then, if you are so inclined, get word to Nora whatever way you can and plead with her to make sure she really delves into everything.

Please be constructive in any comments.

Groundbreaking: How to Easily Remove Nightshade Toxins From Potato Starch

Ever since the beginning some percentage of people trying out supplemental resistant starch in the form of Potato Starch have complained of nightshade tolerance issues, primarily headaches and joint pain. This was a mystery, because some of us, including myself, were operating under the belief that these toxins were water soluble. Turns out not so.

I'll let Ken Willing explain, as well as deliver a very simple solution (literally).

~~~

Contrary to widespread belief, the nightshade glycoalkaloid poisons alpha-solanine and alpha-chaconine are not soluble in water, so unfortunately it's wishful thinking to assume that these headache-causing and arthritis-worsening toxins are entirely absent from potato starch—even a good brand like Bob's. For those of us outside the U.S., the problem is worse, because Chinese, Thai and Vietnamese brands available worldwide are of dubious reliability: the starch itself is OK, but in it we encounter not only the usual nightshade toxins but also sulfite preservatives, not to mention shelf bacteria in abundance.

Fortunately there is a remedy for these problems—my headaches stopped cold the day I started implementing the following. This method rests on the fact that solanine and chaconine DO dissolve in acid, even a fairly weak solution—in fact experimenters have successfully used as low as 1.5%:

—In the evening, fill a suitable bottle 3/4 full of water and dump in tomorrow's dose of potato starch, together with one heaping teaspoonful of citric acid powder (available in the baking-aids section of any supermarket). (Alternatively, make up a reasonably sour solution with white vinegar, but this is less satisfactory.) Shake well to fully disperse the starch and dissolve the acid crystals. Then wait a couple hours while the starch falls to the bottom to form a non-Newtonian mass. Then, carefully pour off the liquid—which now contains the solanine, etc., in solution—while the starch granules, tightly packed together, adhere in a clump on the bottom. Then, as a rinse: re-fill the bottle with fresh water, shake vigorously again to re-disperse the starch, and let it all sit till morning.

In the morning, again pour off the water, which is now only very slightly acidic. What you now have on the bottom is CLEAN potato starch, which can either be mixed in the same bottle with juice, milk, or water; or dug out and used some other way. I know this all sounds complicated, but I've clocked the total procedural time at about 2 minutes—a small price to pay for poison-free starch, in my opinion... and 100 trillion tiny mouths will thank you.

~~~

Thanks Ken. No telling how many people this will really help who would benefit from the PS, but just couldn't do it. Now they can try again.

So, I'd ask that all of you who've seen reports like this in the various forums and such you've frequented, please spread the word and help spread the benefits.

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Sweden Update: Resistant Starch On The Rise, LCHF Steffanson Myths On The Ropes

A couple of months back, Swedish reader and blogger Per Wikholm put together a post for us on the goings on in Sweden in reference to resistant starch. Today, I received this email from him concerning further developments.

I think it's safe to say that he's stirred things up quite a bit over there.

~~~

Hi again Richard!

The RS issue is really cathing fire here in Sweden and is now a big trend among the LCHF community, especially among diabetics. Recently I wrote a piece on RS for the LCHF Magazine with 6,000 subscribers, and Sweden's second largest tabloid, Expressen, had an article on RS in their lastest LCHF supplement.

But since I can't avoid to stir things up, I've also started a Swedish war on the Inuit diet, claiming that their diet was never ketogenic. That made Sten Sture Skaldeman, one of the founding fathers of the Swedish LCHF movement (and author of the The Low Carb High Fat Cookbook) go ballistic on a FB-forum.

This war will continue, so I've been in contact with “Duck Dodgers” who has reserched this subject more than anyone else.

One question I have is if there are any scientist or arctic explorers who've ever stated that the Inuit ate something in the neighborhood of 80% fat, without reffering back to Stefansson. Since I knew that the response from my writings on the Inuit diet would be "read Stefansson," I read Stefansson's "bibles" Not by Bread Alone and The Fat of the Land only to find out that he actually never claims that the Inuit ate 80% fat. Half of that book is about the Indian (native American and Canadian) recepie for pemmican. That's 50% by weight lean, dried buffalo meat and 50% melted fat. According to my calculations, that equates to about 73% fat, not the minimum 80% fat that Stefansson claims is the standard for pemmican.

But it gets even more interesting. In a few sentences, Stefansson admitts that the Inuit pemmican (based on caribou rather than bison) was much lower in fat. Here, the standard recepie was 2/3 lean caribou meat to only 1/3 melted fat. According to my calculations based on the USDA figure for grassfed bison meat, that would mean that the fat content of the Inuit pemmican would be less than 60%. You might get into mild ketosis if the fat content exeeds about 2/3 of calories, but 60% won't make it even if the inuits ate 100% pemmican year around—which they never did! Their diet was a high protein diet, just like the Northern Scandinavian aboriginal Sami people with a climate, flora, and fauna very similar to that in Alaska, northern Canada, and Greenland.

Best regards,
Per Wikholm

~~~

It's gratifying that the work that's been done here to get to the true facts over myths for the purposes of conducting a massive dietary experiment with no healthy population basis ever, is being carried on internationally.

How To Feed Your Gut and Have Fun With The Kids Too

A couple of the most frequently asked question over the last year and some months, over 100 posts and thousands of comments on Resistant Starch, have been:

  1. How do I know if what I bought is truly potato starch (raw) and not potato flour (cooked)?
  2. Why not just eat real food instead of something processed like Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch?

Here's a short video to answer both questions; and what's more is that you can easily duplicate this and have some fun with the kids or, if in a teaching position, demonstrate the curious nature of non-Newtonian fluids to your science class. Prepare to be a bit amazed at its various properties.

How To Make Magic Mud—From a Potato!

Yep, you guessed it. You could skip the steps of extracting starch from potatoes and just use Bob's Red Mill Potato Starch, but then you'd be missing out on all the fun.

So, the answer to question 1, above, ought to be obvious enough. Whatever you buy in terms of potato starch should behave like that when mixed with tonic (not sure if other fluids work the same, nor what effect the sugars may have—but I'm sure the kids will be willing to experiment). Question 2 is a bit more nuanced. First, as you can see, it's not some frankenconcoction, but merely a fraction of a plain ole' potato and zero more. The other aspect is that Tim and I have learned over months of collaboration, unless you're out in the wild, including tree bark, pollen, and a bunch of other plants in your diet, it's tough to get sufficient RS (and even other fermentable fibers). Potato starch is merely a cheap and convenient way to close the gap.

Want some more fun? Stir up a heaping teaspoon of potato starch in a cup of water and pop it in the microwave on high for a minute.

Refining the Resistant Starch Story – Part 3 (RS3 Content in Food)

Part 1 of this 3-Part series dealt with incorporating a diversity of fermentable fiber in the diet as more ideal than isolated RS alone. Part 2 dealt with the difference between raw RS2 resistant starch and RS3 retrograded resistant starch. In this final post in the series, we cover what sources of foods you can use to up your RS3 intake.

Much of our frustration in reviewing hundreds of studies conducted over 30 years on Resistant Starch was the observation that there was not much dietary recommendation—beyond silly stuff like eat more cold potato salad! But, early on in our experimentation, we discovered how easy it is to work your food food into a form more in line with the ways our ancestors ate their food, e.g., cool-reheat-recycling. This creates RS3 (retrograded resistant starch) from staple starches.

Many studies of diets around the world show that most westerners are getting 3-5g/day of RS, another 3-5g/day of inulin (mostly from wheat), and less than 15g/day of total fiber. This is a far cry from the 80g eaten by poor, rural, modern day Africans subsisting on stale maize porridge, or the 135g+ fiber eaten daily by Paleo-Indians of North America. 15g/day of total dietary fiber probably ensures a person can form a stool and break occasional wind, but this is also the gut of the Pepto-Bismol generation. At any rate, you'll find that shooting for 20-40g of RS3 from real foods also gets you a good bit of other fibers. Here’s a list of international RS3 rich foods that are low glycemic index carbs, to feed both your muscles and microbes.

Most people will be getting their RS3 from potatoes, rice, and beans. Of the three, beans have the most total fiber in various forms. But many folks eschew beans, due to their demonization by The Paleo Diet™...and perhaps also, their propensity to reward flatulence in unaccustomed gut biomes. We assert that this is a monumental blunder that persists unchanged, largely unchallenged, unedited, un-reconsidered—now, a Catechism. A Doctrine. But beans or legumes have a long history of feeding some of the healthiest, longest-lived populations on earth. Unfortunately, "science" is often unmoved by real world observation. Oh, well. You get to decide anyway.

...Moreover, we're far more concerned with what's actually healthy and beneficial long-term—for both the 10% of you, and 90% of them—than in adhering to catechisms and doctrines about how much protein and fat ancestors ate to the exclusion of the other foods they could have, in many cases, more easily gathered and eaten. It doesn't make sense on even more levels than health claims.

Certainly, many of you know the pain of counting calories. Many of you have also counted carbs, fats, or protein (excepting proteins like snake venom and others of the most poisonous substances on earth). It's fine to do so, to count and account, to gain insight into what you're eating—much like tracking your money to see why you're a dollar short at the end of the month. As a long-term strategy, though, it never works as planned for non-OCD people.  For most, it's better to just learn to recognize the foods that are rich in RS and other fibers, and include them in your diet regularly. The last thing we want to do is create another program that requires meticulous tracking and counting.

...Here's another tidbit we've discovered along the way, while researching RS: Approximately 10% all all ingested starch, resistant or not, escapes digestion in the small intestine and serves as fuel for gut microbes. Some foods even contain natural amylase inhibitors. Might this be an evolutionary adaptation to feeding our critical gut bugs? So, just eating starchy foods will feed your microbiome a reasonably healthy dose of fermentable fibers.  So, alas, rather than spend valuable time counting RS in the foods you eat, just include beans, rice, and potatoes in your healthy eating patterns to various degrees, including from hot off the stove to frozen, thawed and reheated—or eat them cold, sometimes. (To maximize RS, you pre-cook and cool them. This not only increases the amount of retrograded resistant starch, but makes these time-consuming staples almost a fast-food. Can it get any easier than that?)

Some other tricks to increase your RS intake: use parboiled rice, like Uncle Ben's Original. In theory, it contains higher RS as it's been pre-cooked and cooled. If you don’t care for Uncle Ben's, choose long-grain pigmented rice, i.e., brown, red, or black types, for more RS (and antioxidants) than your typical long-grain white rice.

Potatoes are a bit higher in RS content, compared to rice, but also contain 10g of fiber (not counting RS) per pound; and again, the purple varieties of potatoes have more RS and antioxidants than standard varieties. Beans of all sorts contain about 10g of RS per cup, but also 20g of other fiber. Also, consider the myriad other sources of RS3-producing foods like plantains, quinoa, lentils, and yams. Corn can be a wonderful source of RS—but many are (rightfully so) opposed to corn due to GMO concerns. Eat lots of foods that contain edible seeds: blueberries, strawberries, bananas, etc..

Did anyone catch the important insights left by DuckDodgers in a comment last week:

I've uncovered evidence that traditional cultures all over the world have been creating lots of RS3 for a very long time.

Biology and Chemistry of Jerusalem Artichoke: Helianthus tuberosus L., by Stanley J. Kays, Stephen F. Nottingham

"Precooking the tubers has been a culinary practice for many years and is mentioned, for instance, in the 1633 edition of Gerard's Herball and in the 1738 edition of La Varenne's le Cuisinier Francois."

Indian tribes actually made RS cakes!

Tuber & Root Crops

"Elephant foot yam chutney with or without dry fish is [a] common dish among the tribes of Tipura and Meghalaya...Cooking the elephant foot yam in bamboo shoot ash water and after decanting water, the cooked tubers are made in to paste and dried in the form of a cake. After drying, the cake is again cooked in bamboo shoot ash water and dried in sun after decanting ash water. This dried cake can be stored for 30-45 days without any quality deterioration."

And my personal favorite...

North American Cornucopia: Top 100 Indigenous Food Plants, by Ernest Small

"Duck potato was in fact a staple food for many Indian tribes. On boiling or roasting, the tubers became pleasant in taste. Some Native North Americans sliced boiled tubers and strung them on twine to dry and store for winter use (dried tubers store about as well as potatoes)...The dried tubers can be ground into a flour."

And then we have the "Blue Zones" where people tend to live exceptionally long lives for a number of reasons. But, it turns out, most of those "Blue Zone" cultures have one thing in common that nobody really notices. They were all relatively poor [Grace: and have soil exposures via gardening and farming!]. And what do poor people do?...

Why do sardinians live so long?

"Sardinians were poor for most of their history. And so their diet is incredibly simple and frugal. Their traditional dishes are about using up leftover pasta, bread, meat and cheese."

Yep. They were saving all their foods and inventing ways to reheat them because they didn't have the resources to waste their food.

The Nicoya (another "Blue Zone") in Costa Rica had their Gallo Pinto, a leftover rice and beans dish. In Panama and in El Salvador, they call it Casamiento. In Cuba it's known as Platillo Moros y Cristianos.

Tuscans have their Ribollita. "Bubble and Squeak" is a famous leftover potato/meat dish in Europe, and just about every European culture had their own version of it.

Wherever we look, we see a long tradition of saving foods and dreaming up new ways to reuse them.

There were also societies that utilized isolated, raw starches (RS2) in a variety of interesting ways, but never as a main source of calories and nourishment.

  • Horchata de Chufa, a tigernut starch drink that is still enjoyed by many around the world today;
  • Fufu, a starchy dough made from cassava root eaten in Africa;
  • Chicha, similar to Horchata de Chufa but made with corn;
  • Chuno, a dehydrated potato staple of the Andes;
  • Tororo, made of the Asian yam Dioscorea opposita, often eaten with Natto;
  • Nuts and Seeds. Probably every single culture enjoys munching on raw nuts and seeds. Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, chia, flax, and all manner of tree and ground nuts are universally enjoyed by people around the world and contribute to a healthy gut.

CONCLUSION:

Looking back at our original set of parameters, we still have a ways to go, but here's the progress we've made:

Unanswered Questions

  • What is the optimal dose? Approximately 20g conventional fiber and 20-40g per day RS (RS3 or mix of RS1, RS2, RS3);
  • What is the optimal source? Real foods that provide a combination of RS and other fermentable fibers;
  • Will it make a difference in the grand scheme of things if implemented on a world-wide basis? Undoubtedly, and we're quite fucking sure about that!
  • Is it contra-indicated for anybody?  Rather ironically, those who need it most are the ones who will have the most trouble tolerating and getting up to speed with these recommendations. Various levels of gut dysbiosis leave people unable to ferment prebiotic food, or it is fermented by pathogens. On the bright side, there are a number of people in that state, figuring it out and passing on their knowledge.

Absolutes

  • RS supports a healthy gut microbe population.  ...But only if the healthy gut microbes are present;
  • RS exhibits undeniable effect on glucose control and satiety. Glucose, yes; satiety, mixed results;
  • RS in amounts of 20-50g /day are well tolerated. ...Unless the gut is already compromised by pathogens or disease;
  • RS can come from many sources including real food. Absolutely! It's the point, now that we've seen so many thousands of positive anecdotes even on less optimal isolated RS, like potato starch.

So far in 2014—less than 6 months in—there have been 51 papers released on PubMed with resistant starch in the title or abstract. Interest in RS is not waning but increasing—and we're gratified to be a collaboration of leaders in the RS popularsphere. What a marvelous opportunity that has rewarded countless improvement in real lives...and in so many cases, correcting problems from faulty popular errors that involve starving the gut; i.e., very low carb and ketogenic diets in chronic, rather than episodic practice.

The most recent paper, released just this week, is an RS3 animal study with human implications:

Effects of resistant starch on behaviour, satiety-related hormones and metabolites in growing pigs

The study concludes:

Possible underlying mechanisms for RS-induced satiety include increased 24h plasma SCFA levels, and decreased postprandial glucose and insulin responses. GLP-1 and PYY seemed not to play a role in RS-induced satiety. Low blood serotonin levels in RS-fed pigs suggested a difference in intestinal serotonin release between treatments. Increased postprandial plasma triglyceride levels corresponded with increased SCFA levels, but it is unclear whether triglycerides may have signalled satiety in RS-fed pigs.

So you see, it's not just us with unanswered questions, it's everyone. When you consider the interactions of RS and 100 trillion gut microbes in up-to 1,000 species in snowflake diversity per individual—and its effect on the brain-gut connection—it becomes massive. Eventually this will all get sorted out. Or not, and we'll just toss our hands in the air, seed and feed.

Until then, we’ll keep an eye out for even more daily revelation...whilst others focus on only 10% of you, trying hard to motivate you—day after day—to starve and maltreat 90% of the cells within the borders of your skin. Good luck with that.

We assert that they—from VLC to trademarked Paleo (unchanged since 2002)—will lose. We're looking forward to it, because it can only mean healthier guts in the context of quality foods, and healthier people—free from the unintended consequences of VLC and meat-fat-non-starchy-vegetable "Paleo" diets.

Refining the Resistant Starch Story – Part 2 (RS2 and RS3; Not Exactly the Same Thing)

A couple of days ago I published Part 1 on other non-RS Fibers. Now comes Part 2 on the difference between RS2 (raw resistant starch) and RS3 (retrograded resistant starch—from previously cooked and cooled raw starch).

For this installment, Dr. Grace gets the limelight overt on AnimalPharm: Cont...Update 2 - RS2 and RS3 are Not Exactly the Same Thing.

Go take a look, and see how this story—now more than a year in the making, based on 30+ years of research—is being continually refined and updated. And the three of us (including Tatertot Tim) have a 400-450 pg. book now fully rough drafted to take it even way, way further.

(Hat tip: M. McEwen) Feeding raw potato (RS2) in this ancestral diet study (human v. Theropithecus gelada) appeared to overfeed and increase the RS2-chomping gut populations—Bacteroides and E. rectale—in the human simulated gut. Populations that do not eat RS2 at all or proficiently—lactobacilli and bifidobacteria—were decreased with raw potato. These sub-colonies prefer dining on oligosaccharides (beans, inulin, endive, banana), RS3 and other fiber.

However, with simulated gelada baboon gut, minimal changes were observed and this is consistent with animals without salivary amylase. Only Old World primates known as ceropithecines have evolved AMY1 (salivary alpha-amylase) to consume starches from fruit seeds that they carry in their cheek pouches.

Way more where that came from, so go take a look. I'm going to close comments here, so that all discussion takes place where it should.

Part 3, RS3 Contents in Foods, will be posted here in a couple of days.

Refining the Resistant Starch Story – Part 1 (Other non-RS Fibers)

A Tim "Tatertot" Steele and Dr. Grace Update, Part 1 of 3...

While researching for our upcoming best-seller, we've been spending a considerable amount of time looking at Resistant Starch and other fibers that act as food for gut microbes, and thought it was time for some RS updates (see this recent success story about using lots of fermentable fibers, not just RS). We asked a few regular commenters to help us vet some of these ideas. So thanks to GabKad, Marie, Gemma, and DuckDodgers for letting us bounce this off you, and for your patience as we piece it all together.

Commenter Gemma keeps dropping gems around here. Last week she linked this April 2014 study on the genetics of longevity. Included in the study are many of the ideas we've been discussing:

Indeed, the most comprehensive view is to consider the human being as a “metaorganism” resulting from the close relationship with symbiont microbial ecosystems. A particular attention has been recently devoted to the gut microbiome (GM). The GM probably represents the most adaptable genetic counterpart of the human metaorganisms, being extremely plastic in response to age-related physiological changes in diet and modification in lifestyle.

Nearly one year ago, in one of the first RS blogs, Richard and I wrote the following of Resistant Starch:

Unanswered Questions

  • What is the optimal dose?
  • What is the optimal source?
  • Will it make a difference in the grand scheme of things if implemented on a worldwide basis?
  • Is it contraindicated for anybody?

Absolutes

  • RS supports a healthy gut microbe population
  • RS exhibits undeniable effect on glucose control and satiety
  • RS in amounts of 20-50g /day are well tolerated
  • RS can come from many sources including real food

We're closing in on most of the unanswered questions, thanks to all the readers and self-experimenters who've been playing along. We've also finessed a couple of the "absolutes."

The studies that were dug up initially when we started spreading the word on RS used a combination of starches and fiber types to get the desired outcomes, which brings us to our updates that comprise the parts of this series:

  1. Other non-RS fibers
  2. RS2 and RS3 are not exactly the same
  3. RS3 contents in foods

Update 1 - Other Non-RS Fibers:

We've dug up treasure troves of information on past civilizations that ate copious amounts of resistant starch. RS was with humanity from its very beginnings and stayed with him as he migrated to all corners of the earth. RS in antiquity was eaten in the forms of RS1 (in seeds mainly), RS2 (raw resistant starches), and RS3 (cooked and cooled resistant starches). From evidence left behind in petrified poop (coprolites), it was obvious our ancestors ate lots of plant seeds. From the foods available to our earliest human ancestors and evidence left behind on their tools, teeth, and bones, it was clear they ate raw starches from underground sources (yams, tiger nuts, etc…) and seeds/grains for at least one million years. And once humans began cooking, they ate RS3 from cooked and cooled starches. Humans have been using controlled fire since big brains evolved. Archaeological evidence shows sustained use of fire and heat in Europe by Neanderthals nearly 400,000 years ago—both for unlocking energy in food, as well as sophisticated heating of tar to make arrows and other weapons. From 50,000 year old evidence left behind on their tools and teeth, Neanderthals consumed starch and likely roasted their tubers and roots.

RS sources are special feasts for our microbiota, but they were never available as an isolated fiber. Sedge tubers, rhizomes and bulbs of littoral plants, roots, wild carrots, and tiger nuts were likely consumed whole—fibrous skin and all—either raw or cooked. In nature, there seems to be a matrix of fermentable plant fibers all in one package. The highest concentrations being RS, which we consider a foundational fuel, for both its ubiquitous availability and exuberant effects on the microbiota:

  • Resistant Starch (RS) - the most common storage carbohydrate of plants. Found in tubers, roots, yams, green bananas, green plantains, legumes, lentils, peas, nuts, carrots, sedge nutlets, rice, maize, grains.
  • Oligosaccharides (inulin, FOS, GOS, XOS) - the second most common storage carbohydrate of plants (chicory, onion, leek, dandelion, endive, asparagus, green bananas, legumes, lentils, oats, rice bran, maize, grains, fermented grains).
  • Non-Starch Polysaccharides (NSP) - some are structural and some not

- Arabinogalactan 
- Arabinoxylan
- β-Glucan
- Pectin
- Glucomannan - in certain plant roots and wood, e.g., konjac
- Gums and mucilages
- Cellulose - structural fiber in all plants

When a real food item is eaten, it's always accompanied by several of these other fiber types. Ancestrally, no society avoided or restricted any of the above fermentable substrates from whole, unrefined plants. Potato starch and other singly isolated fiber fractions as supplements have great value and merit. This isolated form of RS2 can be used for either maintenance or rehab of shattered or disrupted guts; however, a spectrum of fiber sources provides more sustenance to the diversity of gut bugs, their wide palates, and their hongry appetites.

There've been many success stories here at FTA and AnimalPharm with RS, especially RS2 from raw potato starch, but don't let that lull you into thinking that raw potato starch is the be-all and end-all to gut health. And don't forget the soil-based probiotics—the very thing humans got regular replenishment of; essentially, as dirt on their food!

We'd like to advise everyone who's consuming raw potato starch to consider the ancestral angle and add other fibers alongside it, as in Richard's Smoothie Mix, or taking it before, during, or after a meal containing other starches and fibers. Also, maybe brush up on Richard's RS-Based Dietary Guidelines he wrote back in December. And, if this is all new to you, take a look at The RS Primer for Newbies (soon to be incorporating the three parts of this series).

As we were putting this together, and wondering how readers would respond, commenter Wilbur remarked about his own experiment:

Every day, I take 3+ Tbsp of Potato Starch, but also Flaxseed, Inulin, FOS, Baobab, Larch Arabinogalactan, Beta Glucan, Chitosan, Amla, Yacon Root Powder, Glucomannan, Psyllium (I poo poo'ed this in the past, but reconsidered my stance), Guar Gum, and a bunch I'd have to write down. Plus some I take occasionally, like Wheat Grass and Hemp Seed Powder. Every fiber I take has a story, and I favor the ones that seem most beneficial to me. But the goal is always to improve my gut.

That and I eat lots of veggies. As many as I can. Green stuff, beets, parsnips, green beans, and tons of green onions. At least 3 cloves of raw garlic per day. Beans, lentils, etc. I make barley risotto every Thursday to eat with a fresh fish shipment at the farmers market, and this lasts for several days. Lately I have been eating lots and lots of berries because they are showing up at the markets.

[Note: there's nothing special about any of the brands linked, and they are not necessarily the brands Wilbur used.]

This may be taking it to a whole new extreme, but it helps illustrate our point: there are lots and lots of fiber types out there! Don't limit yourself to RS alone, but do use it to your advantage. I have a feeling that if RS had been included in the initial assessments of Total Dietary Fiber over the past 30-40 years, we wouldn’t be having this discussion now.

In the next installment, Grace will show you the main differences between RS2 and RS3 over on her AnimalPharm blog, then we'll mosey on back to here for Part 3, a primer on the RS3 contents in real food.