Resistant Starch: “Medicinal Extreme Superfood”

….And here we go.  Soon, you might need a prescription for resistant starch, and supplements like Gut Garden’s Resistant Starch might be outlawed for over-the-counter sales!  If Big Pharma had their way, this would already be the case. What’s gotten me so riled up, you ask?  This:

“The findings illustrate the dawn of a new era in treating human disease with medicinal foods,” Professor Mackay said. “The materials we used are something you can digest that is comprised of natural products – resistant starches are a normal part of our diet. The diets we used are highly efficient at releasing beneficial metabolites. I would describe them as an extreme superfood,” he said. Professor Mackay said that the diet was not just about eating vegetables or high-fibre foods but involved special food and a special process, and would need to be managed by nutritionists, dietitians and clinicians. [emphasis added]

This excerpt is from an interview with the researchers behind a new study that shows baby mice fed resistant starch after being weaned were much less likely to develop Type 1 Diabetes and other autoimmune diseases. The title of this new study guarantees that only geeks like us will venture past the abstract. The study:  Gut microbial metabolites limit the frequency of autoimmune T cells and protect against type 1 diabetes, suggests that T1D is a disorder of a modern, dyspeptic gut. Easily prevented by flooding the gut with the materials it needs to thrive, short-chain fatty acids. And where do we get SCFA?  Foods that contain lots of prebiotic fiber. Onions, leeks, cooked and cooled beans/rice/potatoes, green bananas, raw potatoes, wheat, buckwheat, yams, etc. etc..

What’s The Fuss?

As I’ve been preaching for years, you just can’t get enough fiber from the foods we normally eat. You have to go out of your way. It can be as easy as eating a small raw potato or green banana every day as Dr. Davis of Wheatbelly recommends. You can pre-cook and cool all of your starches before eating. Or you can down a spoonful of a raw starch known to be high in RS.

Here’s the rub.  Big Pharma does not want you to know about ANYTHING that you can do for free.  Especially if it works.  Big Pharma does not care much about St. John’s Wort or Nettles, especially when most supplements don’t even contain the labeled ingredients. But they love to extract the ingredients and make stuff. They just won’t tell you that sometimes it’s better to eat the plant than take the synthetic drug they’ve developed.

Same thing with resistant starch.

Around 2011 or 2012, I first learned of RS and it’s amazing potential. I started a sort of health revolution around RS. Everybody is talking about it now. Even Dr. Oz and the low carbers love it. In 1997, the UN/WHO said:

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.  — Joint Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations/World Health Organization, 1997

That was 20 years ago. We now have 40 years of RS discoveries. But nobody (except me) is talking about it much. When I started my RS crusade 5 years ago, my biggest motivation was to head off the hype and show you how easy it is to get RS into your diet.

Big Pharma has other ideas. These are the same people who ensure you require a prescription for POOP.  I have a feeling that the true benefits of RS are being held back from the public. Especially the easy-to-find RS supplements like Hi-Maize, potato starch, and green banana flour.

I’d be willing to bet that as we speak, there’s a biotech company fidgeting with potatoes or corn, splicing in amylose genes or incorporating butyrate into RS granules. They’ll take the starch, subject it to enzymes, heat, and moisture. Then they’ll test it in a lab and declare that it is a “new type fiber.” A fiber so powerful and effective that mere human mortals should not be allowed to ingest it without strict medical supervision.

Then they’ll patent it. Get FDA approval. Find some “orphan disease” that it works really well for. And get really rich. No one will ever know that Bob’s Red Mill had the answer all along. I can only imagine how much they’ll charge for this medicinal extreme superfood.

We know better!

Tim Steele

18 Comments on “Resistant Starch: “Medicinal Extreme Superfood””

  1. Georgina Hughes April 12, 2017 at 6:43 am #

    Follow the $$$

    Thanks for the ‘heads up’.


  2. Curtisy Briggs April 12, 2017 at 8:33 am #

    Tim–you make some interesting points, but I think your slant on pharma is overly paranoid (and I sure would want such things as fecal transplants regulated if I were going to have one!). At least with pharmaceutical products, they have to demonstrate safety and efficacy–two things that are never proven with supplements because they are not regulated in the same way, and supplement manufacturers and food manufacturers routinely make claims (along with disclaimers about the claims) without proving efficacy. You are leading the effort to measure amounts of resistant starch, which is terrific, but I would like to see more proof (like clinical trials) showing how resistant starch helps improve specific disease conditions, and I imagine that needs to happen before drug companies will be really interested. I can find studies on PubMed, usually claiming benefits in terms of weight loss, insulin resistance, and colon health, but they seem to be similar to benefits conferred by eating a high-fiber diet. Also, the studies I’ve seen are in nutrition journals, so the focus on RS is still on its benefits in diet. I am not devaluing the benefits of resistant starch–I do believe in it and use green banana flour and eat tiger nuts (can’t do potato starch, as it makes me wheeze!), but I think we have much to learn about exactly what RS is doing in the body, and because of that, I question whether pharma manufacturers are rushing to make drugs with it. I also think there is a lot of Dr. Oz-type hype out there about RS…so I really appreciate the fact that you have taken a scientific approach to the subject! I am grateful for all the good information presented in your Potato Hack book!


    • Dave April 13, 2017 at 12:16 am #

      Didn’t a pharmaceutical company try,and fail, to patent the spice Turmeric recently.


      • Curtisy April 13, 2017 at 4:32 am #

        I don’t know the answer to that, but I don’t see how they could patent a spice without doing something to it to make it patentable. They’ve been studying turmeric/curcumin for many years because it has demonstrated anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory properties, which speaks to my point about RS. Until they have proof of benefits against disease with RS (apart from being helpful with obesity, insulin resistance, and colon health), I wouldn’t think they could do much in terms of making a drug. Plus, because of the way it works in the gut, I assume it has to be ingested as food. Tim Steele no doubt has more information about what studies are out there, so Tim, maybe you could share some more of your research? In the meantime, is it more likely that we will see RS added to supplements and snack foods, etc.?


        • Tim Steele April 13, 2017 at 2:33 pm #

          The FDA oversees drug safety, and Big Pharma’s job is to ensure that only the biggest and richest companies can succeed. The Prescription Drug User’s Fee (PDUFA) act of 1992 started allowing the FDA to charge Big Pharma for their services. The 2017 rates are:
          $2,038,100 per full application requiring clinical data,
          $1,019,050 per application not requiring clinical data or per supplement requiring clinical data.
          $512,200 for establishments.
          This alone prevents most small cap, start-ups from developing drugs. They are forced to partner with Big Pharma, and Big Pharma can keep promising drugs off the market if it makes financial sense, such as making best selling drugs obsolete.

          I’m not paranoid…I know how it works.

          Plants and foods cannot be patented, but one could isolate a plant chemical and synthesize it and patent the new molecules as drugs. Examples: Metformin, digitalis, colchisine.


  3. Rob April 12, 2017 at 11:42 pm #

    I think your paranoia into big pharma is more than well founded. Any sizeable organisation needs ON-GOING revenue to survive. If westerners had the same disease rates as populations who eat much more naturally, big pharma just simply would not survive. I was going to say they are not a charity – though some charities appear to be operating much more like corporations of late!

    The lack of knowledge and the push for purely pharmaceutical drugs to cure all ills leaves me wanting to avoid the medical system like the plague. I wish more people would become educated though. My father in law still believes in statins…

    Keep up the good work Tim!


  4. Alex April 13, 2017 at 7:47 am #

    Orphan drug status is the most abused definition in medicine right now. Now common, high volume high profit drugs are getting Orphan status for oddball indications. Crestor, albuterol, Spiriva, and many more all have limited Orphan status. If you are ever tremendously bored you can go to the FDA website and search for Orphan drugs.
    This is not even remotely what the Orphan drug protection was intended for. It is supposed to give protection and incentive for companies to research and manufacture limited use drugs for rare diseases that would otherwise be ignored……not reclassifying medications that are 40-50 years old and in common use for other ailments.


    • Tim Steele April 13, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

      I know all about this. An even worse racket is rare pediatric disease voucher system. A company who is developing a drug granted rare pediatric status can get a priority review waiver…and then sell it to anyone. And the buyer can use it for whatever they want. These vouchers sell for over $100 million. This program was one of the ObamaCare perks, not sure if it will be continued under Trump.


      • Curtisy April 13, 2017 at 6:22 pm #

        Tim–I was not aware of this voucher system, and am surprised to read this. I am not naive about the pharma industry, but I also distrust the supplement industry, and I wish it were regulated, even if the regulation is not as effective as it should be. I agree that the ideal would be to use plants and food for all our medicine!


    • Curtisy April 13, 2017 at 6:06 pm #

      Alex–how in the world did Crestor, albuterol, and Spiriva get orphan drug status?


      • Alex April 14, 2017 at 3:23 am #

        In order to acquire Orphan Designation all they have to do it dig up some sort of rare disease that it could be used to treat… doesn’t need to be the sole approved use for the Drug. Because of that it can be applied to a drug that has been on the market for decades.
        So, lets look at Crestor: It came to the market in 2003. By 2013 it was racking up 5 Billion in sales. In 2014 they received Orphan Designation “For the treatment of pediatric homozygous familial hypercholesterolemia “.
        Orphan drug status will exclude the drug from some special purchasing programs, like 340B depending on the covered entity designation.
        Metformin, Glyburide, Cipro…..You would be amazed how many drugs have Orphan Status. And it is growing every day.


        • Curtisy April 14, 2017 at 5:24 am #

          Thanks for explaining, Alex! I was not aware of this, and I was really surprised to learn it.


  5. thehomeschoolingdoctor April 16, 2017 at 12:42 pm #

    Why would they think things like pre-biotics, RS, particular fibers need regulated? What reason would they give? (What do studies show as negative, adverse reactions?) Would they need to give a reason? Or just with some meddling it’d be classified as “new” and therefore need regulation? Those are some massive dollar amounts you mentioned in a comment! Wow!

    Are you really concerned about this or just mildly irritated and scoffing?

    Happy Easter!



    • Tim Steele April 16, 2017 at 3:01 pm #

      Happy Easter to you, too. I was just mildly annoyed, not too concerned. It’s just the way the world works. Big Pharma needs Big Money. Recommending banana flour doesn’t pay the bills, lol.


  6. Dan May 30, 2017 at 4:31 pm #

    I guess they can try to take away our potato starch, but we can alway keep munching on raw potato slices and throwing green bananas into our smoothies – all is not lost….yet.


  7. Rene January 4, 2018 at 8:17 am #

    I have a burning question on potato starch.
    Is potato starch still considered a prebiotic when it gets baked after being incorporated into a gluten free bread flower blend?
    Or does it definitely have to be raw in order to act as a prebiotic?


    • Tim Steele January 4, 2018 at 8:32 am #

      Has to be raw. For baking, look into Hi-Maize. Hi-Maize retains it’s prebiotic effects even when heated.


  8. jeff2 May 22, 2018 at 7:31 am #

    From my own experience, moderation is the key. While unmodified potato starch, green banana, and hi maize resistant starch all have a lot of good resistant starch in them, they do still have some calories from digestible starch. In other words, keep in mind that none of them are 100% resistant starch. Some of that non resistant starch will get digested by you and may cause your blood sugar to rise if you eat too much of it. I was admittedly overdoing it, taking 5 heaping tablespoons of potato starch mixed in a big glass of water with each meal. The severe flatulence eventually subsided as my system got used to it, but unfortunately, I gained over 10 pounds in about 3 months of doing that. I have since gone back down to what I consider a reasonable level– one heaping tablespoon of potato starch mixed in a glass of water with each meal. And I have since lost all that extra weight. Whenever I go to the grocery store I always look for green bananas, and sometimes I can find really green ones and then I get them and take them home and eat them within a few days, but most of the time I can not find the really green ones. Does anyone know what happens to the resistant starch in green bananas if I get a bunch of them and then freeze them to use later at my convenience? I’m going to try it and see what happens, and then let you know one way or the other.


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