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Erica White DipION, FBANT, Nutritionhelp Founder

What is Resistant Starch?

Fri 26th May, 2017 - 12:47pm by Emma Cockrell

There is much debate in the Nutrition World about the best source of carbohydrates to include in an anti-candida programme. Since intestinal yeasts, such as Candida albicans, are fed by sugars in the diet, it is vital to remove all forms of sweetening, and all refined carbohydrates, which break down to sugar very quickly, and thus become a food source for Candida.

At Nutritionhelp we do generally suggest that some whole grain carbohydrates, such as quinoa, buckwheat, millet, oats, and unrefined maize are kept in the diet, along with some starchy vegetables. The quantity each client may consume will vary, depending on their energy requirements, metabolism and tolerance. There are two main benefits in including some carbohydrate in an anti-candida progamme:

  1. It makes the diet sustainable. I have had a number of clients come to me who have followed a very low carbohydrate diet in an effort to over-come candida. They have lost large amounts of body-weight and have seen an increase in fatigue. Adding a suitable amount of carbohydrate back into the diet can provide energy for the client to continue with a sugar-free and yeast free programme. Since the diet is a long-term project, sustainability is vital.
  2. A low carbohydrate diet can encourage a state of ketosis, where the body burns fat instead of carbohydrate for fuel. Now while there are researched benefits of ketosis for a number of health conditions, this state can actually encourage intestinal candida just as easily as glucose! Therefore including some whole grains or starchy vegetables in the diet can prevent slipping into ketosis., while the intestinal yeast is still starved by avoiding the carbs that convert quickly to glucose.

How much unrefined carbohydrate a client requires will vary from person to person, but there is a specific type of carbohydrate which is worth regularly including in the diet. This is Resistant starch (RS). Most starches are absorbed quickly in the small intestine, giving a subsequent rise in insulin production. Resistant starch however, resists digestion in the small intestine, moving on to the colon mainly unabsorbed.  Because our bodies respond to resistant starch in a similar way to soluble fibre, it has little impact on blood sugar balance and insulin production, while it can feed and encourage beneficial bacteria in the colon.


4 Types of Resistant Starch: 

There are four types of resistant starch from differing sources, some, but not all, are suitable for those on a Nutritionhelp anti-candida diet         

RS1 – Physically resists digestion due to a strong outer matrix. Found in seeds, legumes and unprocessed whole grains.

RS2 – Occurs naturally in granular form. Found in raw white potatoes, unmodified potato starch (uncooked), green under-ripe bananas, banana flour (uncooked), plantains (uncooked) and high amylose corn.

RS3 – This is called retrograded starch since it is formed when starchy foods in RS1 or RS2 are cooked then cooled down. Examples high in RS3: white rice (highest of which are parboiled and Basmati), white potatoes, pasta made from rice or potatoes, and legumes. Even if these starches are again reheated after cooling down, the RS3 starch remains intact or even increases. Subsequent cooling after reheating increases the RS3, so “leftovers” are a good source.

 RS4 – This is a synthetic form and not recommended. RS4 includes chemically modified starches.

Resistant Starch and Fibre

There are two types of food fibre, insoluble fibre, which doesn’t dissolve in water and is not fermented by colon bacteria, and soluble fibre, which does dissolve in water and is fermented in the colon.

Insoluble fibre does nothing to encourage beneficial bacteria in the  colon, but is helpful in increasing bulk in the stools and thus reducing the possibility of constipation.  On the other hand, as soluble fibre and resistant starch ferment in the colon they have a beneficial impact on intestinal health.

Fermentation of the fibre encourages beneficial bacteria to produce vitamins, serotonin, melatonin, butyrate and short-chain fatty acids. These substances support fat-burning, mental clarity and mood and nutritional status.


Potential Benefits of Including Resistant starch in the Diet

  • Strengthen the bowel wall, thus reducing likelihood of diverticulitis, IBS, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis and colon cancer
  • Support blood sugar balance and insulin regulation
  • Encourage mental outlook
  • Reduce fat oxidation and fat build-up
  • Support cholesterol levels
  • Encourage feeling full with meals
  • Support immune health
  • Break down toxins
  • Anti-inflammatory effects in the body
  • Intestinal protection from some harmful bacteria

How to Incorporate Resistant Starch into the Anti-Candida Diet

  • Whole grain basmati rice, cooked and cooled. Apparently, the resistant starch that is formed when cooled maintains its integrity even if reheated.
  • White potatoes, cooked and cooled. These can be eaten cold – great in summer salads with new potatoes. If reheated a good amount of the resistant starch remains. NB potatoes may be a problem for some people with arthritis symptoms.
  • Rice pasta, cooked and cooled. Look out for Doves Farm Brown Rice pasta.The pasta increases its resistant starch content each time it is reheated.
  • Carrots, yam, sweet potato,  turnip, parsnip, beets, and squash  all contain some resistant starch, but in lower amounts

NB It is wise to limit rice about 4 servings a week due to the arsenic content.  Contact me if you are on a limited diet and need advice in this area.


Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2006.tb00076.x/pdf