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Revisiting the Changing Paleo Landscape in Real Food Starches, Resistant Starch, and “Nutritional” Ketosis

A few days back I somewhat reluctantly called out Nora Gedgaudas for what, in my judgement, is a resistance to various revelations that have come to pass over the last few years and been widely adopted in the general Paleoish community: Juxtaposition: Dallas & Melissa Hartwig vs. Nora Gedgaudas.

Since I'm very busy with a complex move (I'll be splitting time between three places) I thought I'd just toss up some of my favorite smart comments on that post, comments that deserve to be on the front page for a while. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did. There's an editing touch here & there, but nothing material to the message.

Duck

Tuck, you might do well to stop and think for a moment and look at the nutritional profile of wild game that wild carnivores actually eat: Bison, water buffalo, kudu, springbok, giraffes, impala, deer, ducks, fowl, etc., etc. They're all TOO LEAN to support ketosis!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_(food)

Mind you animals don't eat the fatty parts and walk away. They and their families devour the entire lean and fresh animals—a relatively small amount of glycogen and huge quantities of protein. But, not nearly enough fat, period.

~ Marie

...Mentioning the fact that NK is proven useful for certain diseases addresses its therapeutic effect in special cases up to now, without any accounting of long-term physiological impact.

An extreme example of this issue : Arsenic is also very useful therapeutically. That doesn't make it a desirable for broad, life-long use.

Specific therapeutic effects do not change the fact that long term NK does not have any analogue in nature nor any long history in civilization and has a small patient set of data—data which in fact show adverse effects in many cases (epileptic children studies).

So long term NK is by definition "a modern experiment."

There's nothing wrong with that, btw. Nothing.

It's just that nature or evolution cannot be presented as evidence that long term NK is desirable for anyone. It may be, I surely don't know, but the point is no one does. So, caveat emptor—given which, I'm all for n=1, especially if someone monitors well and shares info.

~ Bret

But when looking for science-based (and not opinion or anecdote-based) baseline

Anecdotes aren't the worst thing in the world. A "science-based approach," while necessary and useful in many ways, still has holes.

Two come to mind primarily:

  1. Most of the time we aim for a clinical study, the gold standard of science. But you can't test everything you need to test in order to establish clinical proof of a dietary/lifestyle tenet. Life is simply too complex. Gary Taubes enumerated this frustrating complexity in Good Calories, Bad Calories when musing about the quandary of trying to design an effective and conclusive clinical study. For instance, if we reduce carbohydrates in a diet, do we increase calories in fat and/or protein? Which one? Or both? If both, then how much of each? And regardless of which we choose, what makes the difference in teh final result? The absolute reduction of carbohydrates? The decrease in carbohydrate relative to the other macronutrients? Or something else that we have not identified? With even one such study being prohibitively expensive, you could not test multiple studies in parallel either. The quagmire is endless.
  2. You can opt instead to use observational science to piece together "markers" of health. But this approach is not flawless, either. Selecting which markers to measure reincorporates the element of bias, which science is supposed to avoid (and as we know from Taubesian research et al, rarely does in practice). How do you decide what to measure? What if some indications contradict others? Are you going to conclude "good" or "bad" based on majority rule? If so, how do you know that certain combinations of these markers don't result in different longevity of life and/or vibrancy of health than others? The danger here is a false sense of security, where you have this enterprise that you implicitly believe lacks bias, but in reality is full of it. Anecdotes, on the other hand, can be much more useful than we often give them credit for. Where experimental studies may give us a decent starting point, individual experiences can help fill in the gaps. Take Tom Naughton's experience illustrated by the following comment, whereas he had previously been highly skeptical of "safe" or resistant starches:

I’ve heard from people who say their energy flagged on a very-low-carb diet, but they felt great when they added 100 grams or so of “safe starches” back into their diets as prescribed in Paul Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet. I believe them.

Those anecdotes clued him in that there might just be something to this starch thing. Take Richard's recent remarks in a discussion debunking the pursuit of a (fictional) sterile avoidance of bias in human life:

THESIS ---> ANTITHESIS ---> SYNTHESIS

The Synthesis then becomes the new Thesis, and the process repeats ad infinitum; not in circular fashion, but rather, a spiral fashion where each cycle represents more knowledge, better understanding, get's a little closer to the truth. As such, I never have to worry much about someone's bias. Let them be as biased as they like and then synthesize new understanding from competing bias. Someone's comment on a post of mine might be 90% logical fallacy—or just mostly bullshit—but 5%, or 1% decent antithesis from which which a synthesis might emerge and in turn, a new, more complete thesis.

...Or, you can waste endless hours debating who's right and who's wrong; who's biased and who's impartial; who's cognitively dissonant and who's consonant. Or, you could be making progress recognizing that in all likelihood, you're both right, both wrong; both biased; both living in some measure of dissonance and contradiction—in different proportions, contexts and perspectives—and there's a synthesis dying to get out if you could both simply embrace intellectual honesty.

...

But nothing is settled, ever. I prefer it that way.

And not only is the journey (rather than the end goal) preferable—it is an inevitability of life. We'll never know all the answers. Not even in a thousand years (presuming our descendants are still here).

To corral up all my rambling and return to your original point, I think we have good reason to combine anecdotes with "rigorous science." Be especially careful of that latter concept...you have to bore deep holes of scrutiny and skepticism into every study that comes out before you can trust it as an oracle. Chances are, since it was designed by humans, it will contain the same flaws and biases that plague all of us humans. I'm not saying they're worthless. Just don't let them give you a false sense of security.

~ Duck

Well, he spent $300,000 and 10 years biohacking himself and he still can't tolerate a side of french fries. This suggests that he has some extreme gut issues that even money can't easily solve.

Meanwhile countless others are making more progress with about $100 in probiotics and prebiotics. So, at least he acknowledges that starch is working for many and I think that's certainly better than turning a blind eye to it.

However, Dave couldn't help patting himself on the back as he claimed that the collagen in his bulletproof coffee [see correction on that from Duck] ferments to butyrate at the same rate as RS. I'd love to see a citation for that. I don't think that's true.

I distinctly remember seeing a study about Cheetahs fermenting SCFAs from consuming collagen, skin and other grisly bits when digesting whole animals, but I was the one who uncovered that study a few months ago, and Table 3 clearly shows that hardly any butyrate is fermented from collagen:

http://www.journalofanimalscience.org/content/90/8/2540.full.pdf+html

And as best as I can tell, that's the only study to look into the SCFAs fermented from animal fibers, and collagen does not appear to be a significant source of butyrate whatsoever.

~ Melissa Hartwig

I always have just the tiniest feeling of dread when I see this many pingbacks to our site from your blog. This one wasn't so bad. Thanks, Richard.

Best,
Melissa

[Laf — Ed]

~ Duck

Nora said: "To quote Bernstein, you can have an amino acid deficiency, you can have an essential fatty acid deficiency, but there is no such thing in any medical textbook on Earth as a carbohydrate deficiency. There is no such thing as a glucose deficiency....per se.

Well, I don't know about you, but nobody in their right mind gets nutritional advice from "medical textbooks." And those same medical textbooks also say some unkind words on dietary saturated fat.

Meanwhile...

The Joint Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization Expert Consultation on Human Nutrition stated in 1998:

From: Carbohydrates in human nutrition (Report of a Joint FAO/WHO Expert Consultation, Rome, Italy, 14-18 April 1997). FAO food and nutrition paper 66. World Health Organization. 1998. ISBN 9251041148.

"One of the major developments in our understanding of the importance of carbohydrates for health in the past twenty years has been the discovery of resistant starch."

Nora, Nora, Nora... The evidence for the role of carbohydrates and Resistant Starch in human health isn't just there. It's overwhelming.

~ Duck

From: Bulletproof Executive : Podcast #136

Nora Gedgaudas: There's too much credence being given to the whole "safe starch" idea, that I don't necessarily consider safe at all. You know, nightshades are certainly not what I think of as safe.

Dave: I don't do nightshades. [...]

Nora Gedgaudas: And these are anything but Paleo foods. These are very, very, very new foods to us...

Hard to believe that someone with "expertise" in "Paleo" foods never heard of Tiger Nuts.

While Nora comes off as the Sarah Palin of Paleo in that clip, their conversation highlights the wussification of Paleo.

What Nora and Dave don't seem to realize is that some of the very plant toxins they fear have also been shown to have health benefits. For instance, nightshade toxins have been shown in studies to exhibit the following properties...

  1. Antiallergic, Antipyretic, and Anti-inflammatory effects
  2. Blood sugar-lowering effects
  3. Antibiotic Activities against Pathogenic Bacteria, Viruses, Protozoa, and Fungi
  4. Destruction of Human Cancer Cells

Source: Potato Glycoalkaloids and Metabolites: Roles in the Plant and in the Diet 

For those who are curious, the paper documents all the known harmful effects and beneficial effects of nightshade toxins, and concludes by saying...

"Food and biomedical scientists, including nutritionists, pharmacologists, and microbiologists, are challenged to further define the beneficial effects of the glycoalkaloids against cancer, the immune system, cholesterol, and inflammation, as well as against pathogenic fungi, bacteria, viruses, and protozoa."

Not so black and white, eh? How about so-called toxic saponins?

Nora and Dave are afraid of them too. But, would it surprise you that virtually all indigenous cultures make an effort to consume toxic saponins and tannins? They are nearly always found in bark and bush teas that are consumed by nearly every culture, including the Inuit. Take the Masai for instance. Turns out if you actually take the time to research their eating habits, you find that they eat toxic Acacia nilotica bark extract, with virtually every meat-heavy meal. The bark is rich in saponins and tannins. The saponins are believed to lower cholesterol and heart disease incidence (National Geographic, Oct 1995).

What about the Inuit? Labrador Tea was a major component of their diet. And guess what? It's really freakin' toxic. From: Wikipedia: Labrador Tea

[Labrador tea] has been a favorite beverage among Athabaskan and Inuit people for many years...Labrador tea has narcotic properties. Evidence suggests that excessive consumption of the plant may cause delirium or poisoning. Toxic terpenes of the essential oils cause symptoms of intoxication, such as slow pulse, lowering of blood pressure, lack of coordination, convulsions, paralysis, and death. It is apparently safe as a weak herbal tea, but should not be made too strong.

Oh, and Labrador tea has saponins and tannins too. Definitely not "bulletproof" tea. Are Nora and Dave are oblivious to this, or just willfully ignorant?

At any rate, hormesis from "toxic" plants appears to be a new frontier for health research. Tim shared this very cool article on nutritional toxicology that was published just a few days ago.

Fruits and Vegetables Are Trying to Kill You

Warding off the diseases of aging is certainly a worthwhile pursuit. But evidence has mounted to suggest that antioxidant vitamin supplements, long assumed to improve health, are ineffectual. Fruits and vegetables are indeed healthful but not necessarily because they shield you from oxidative stress. In fact, they may improve health for quite the opposite reason: They stress you.

That stress comes courtesy of trace amounts of naturally occurring pesticides and anti-grazing compounds. You already know these substances as the hot flavors in spices, the mouth-puckering tannins in wines, or the stink of Brussels sprouts. They are the antibacterials, antifungals, and grazing deterrents of the plant world. In the right amount, these slightly noxious substances, which help plants survive, may leave you stronger.

Parallel studies, meanwhile, have undercut decades-old assumptions about the dangers of free radicals. Rather than killing us, these volatile molecules, in the right amount, may improve our health. Our quest to neutralize them with antioxidant supplements may be doing more harm than good.

If one truly makes an effort to research what indigenous cultures ate—and it almost certainly appears that Dave and Nora do not make that kind of effort—one will find that consistent consumption of plant toxins were a major component of their diets.

Given what we are learning about the microbiota, it appears that a healthy gut biome may be required to tolerate these toxins—as these toxins can often be metabolized by our gut bugs. I don't doubt that Nora and Dave have their gut issues and perhaps can't tolerate any plant toxins. I understand that toxins can be hard on the weak, modern gut. But, to profess to the world that all plant toxins are bad just isn't supported by the scientific literature. Nor is it supported by the dietary habits of indigenous cultures. Not by a long shot.

The dose makes the poison. Don't eat tons of plant toxins. But, avoid them at your own peril.

~~~

Alright, that should wrap it up for today. It is true that now, my role has shifted from blog writer to blog writer and publisher to a greater and greater extent. I think that makes a far better experience for you readers.

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.