You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘resistant starch’ tag.

(This is one of many posts about my IBS, to read others, just click on the “IBS” link in the tag cloud on the left…)

A friend gave me some probiotics a few weeks ago called Align. She went to great expense buying it from the US as it has been said to be good for people with ME/CFS. She tried them and they sadly did not agree with her so very kindly passed them on to me to try. I have taken them all, i think it was for 5 weeks. They did not upset me at all or make any difference that i could see with my IBS, which has been pretty stable as long as i stick to my safe foods. I did not take my kefir for most of the time and this change also had little noticeable effect. I did start taking Kefir for the last week or so when i was ill with a virus that made me sick and have an upset stomach as i thought the more good bacteria the better in that situation!

I do think that taking kefir/probiotics is a good thing for me and i will continue to do it, as i hear such good things about them for the immune system, detoxing (the neurotoxic metabolite test which came up positive for me is based on theories of leaky gut type problems in pwME and probiotics are supposed to help, though i have not heard any follow up to the test in terms of published research/treatment advice), and of course IBS symptoms. I just wish i could see evidence for myself!

My IBS has settled down overall, but this is only because i no longer eat gluten, not much dairy, not much resistant starch or very fibrous foods, little fruit and raw salads, etc etc. I am unsure how much help the probiotics have been, though my flare ups are less dramatic now than at the peak of my problems and when i first started the dietary changes so maybe they have helped a bit.

I have been a little skeptical of the resistant starch idea, which my POTS specialist told me about (she also deals with ME patient issues in general) but it really does seem to be the case for me that i cannot digest them well (i explained all about resistant starches here). I can now eat white rice that has been reheated (i have not tried cold foods that have been cooked as this is meant to be worse than when they are warmed up again) but potato seems to be terrible (it is meant to be worse than rice). A few chips from a pub can cause trouble (mainly a lot of discomfort and wind) as they are partly cooked, cooled then reheated/cooked again later. Added to this potato problem is “modified starch” and “potato starch” which are in a LOT of foods and seemingly all gluten free bread/cake/biscuit alternatives. I tested out some gluten free bread recently as the potato flour/starch was quite far down the list and there was no maize flour in it (has the same effect) just to try to widen my diet and it caused all sorts of torture and a couple of nights of quite bad pain through my whole stomach and lower back. I had forgotten how painful my stomach used to be on a regular basis! Potatoes when freshly cooked are no problem at all and are a regular part of my diet but the starches and their digestibility apparently change during the cooling process and when reheated not all of them change back, so to speak.

Other things that are high in resistant starches apparently are beans, like kidney beans etc. I am a vegetarian and I really miss beans. I want some baked beans, preferably on toast, but with mashed potato and a bit of grated cheese would do… but after this week’s experiment i am feeling a bit more cautious. (I have reacted badly to peas and chick peas, though in very small amounts hot chick peas are usually ok. I have not tried other beans/pulses). The other night i felt really sick and my bowel was cramping badly after i had some of the bread with marmite (which was so nice but not worth feeling that bad). I was unsure if it was all a reaction to the bread (and the chips i had the evening before – yes i have been throwing caution to the wind – literally) or if it was also that my system is still not too strong after being so sick ten days ago. I am not usually queasy even when my IBS is bad and am rarely sick, nevertheless it was a definite reaction and it was the second time i ate it, bad reaction both times.

I really want to try to eat gluten and wheat products again as not eating them is so inconvenient more than anything else. I do crave and miss certain things, but mostly i just want to be able to eat out at the pub or a restaurant occasionally, or buy a sandwich… When you rarely go out and there is not much i can go out to “do”, sitting in a quiet place for some food for a short while is one thing that in theory i can do sometimes and something i can do with my partner for a treat but it has become nearly impossible for reasons other than energy and that is even more annoying! I am not sure when i will be able to test out eating gluten properly. I need to be feeling better than this as one reaction to it i have noticed but not tested consistently is that i feel more like a zombie after eating wheat. Hard to test that when i feel so bad all the time anyway. I think i do feel generally better for cutting out the stodgy wheaty foods, many of which (pastry, solid white bread things like pizza base) have long disagreed with me, but it would be nice to have the option sometimes!

I did have a theory that after a few weeks/months of calmer digestion that my system would heal and i would be able to reintroduce more variety of foods and all would largely be well, but after over 8 months (? i have not counted exactly) i do not feel much further along with that process. I have discovered i can eat certain vegetables with no obvious problems, i can reheat white rice, i can handle some spicy foods too, and nuts and seeds though raw and fibrous seem largely ok. I also can eat brown rice based pasta which is nice. All this is great but still quite limited! I need to test out some more but whenever i do it seems to cause a flare up and it never seems like a good time for that when i am struggling with so many other symptoms and am generally so low in energy.

It has taken me a long time to see patterns and believe in cause and effect of eating certain things, like the potato problem, as it is such a complicated issue. Often i eat those risky things when out of the house, then i am unsure if it is the potato (for example) causing the problem or if the exertion of going out has meant that my body did not have the energy/blood flow to digest properly and if i had eaten the same thing quietly at home it might have been ok… see what i mean?

Anyway, i am grateful i can keep it relatively under control day to day even if that means missing out on a lot of food fun and freedom!


Tried quinoa porridge this morning – had to make myself (sitting on chair)and it took quite some time, boiled over when i looked away for a minute and made a huge mess and by the time i came to eat it i was feeling grumpy already! It was not bad though with a teaspoon of honey and a teaspoon of mixed nut butter (like peanut butter, but made with a mixture of nuts!).

I cannot face the effort again however and think i will be introducing oats back into my diet tomorrow. I read somewhere that eating them cold after they have soaked for a while is the best way, so that is the plan (with soya milk and honey, of course). I actually want tomorrow morning to come around now!

I have also been eating rice cakes. I looked on the packet and total fibre per rice cake is 0.2g, so that really can’t be too much resistant starch can it? (However many times they are heated and cooled to puff ’em up!)

I am going to eat brown rice tonight (with tofu and veg) as things not moving along quite so well today! Looking forward to that too – funny how much more you can appreciate simple foods when they have been denied!

Read a bit more about the resistant starches and there don’t seem to be many tables around to say what foods are higher or lower in content. This could be because it changes so much depending on their state (raw, cooked, cooled, reheated, ripeness etc etc).

I did find out that canned chick peas have mainly the first type (there are 4) of resistant starch which is broken down by chewing (amylase?) whereas red kidney beans have a lot of one of the worst types which is not really broken down at all, so maybe chick peas will be my pulse of choice (with extra chewing action)!

Also seeds are meant to be very indigestible, but mainly due to their fibrous casings/husks so it is suggested that whizzing them up to chop them into pieces allows access to the insides to be digested…

The same seems to apply for whole grains (like my muesli or oats) that if the grain is rolled, milled, ground etc it is better digested… My muesli has toasted flakes of various things so this may increase their resistant starchiness. I am staying off that for a bit longer before i judge if it is something that is causing trouble (as it contains dried fruit, nuts, whole seeds as well as various grains), but i am really missing it! Will see how the plain oats go first…

I must just say that please don’t take what i say about this as fact – i am finding it hard to understand and gather the info and i am no dietitian! There is a lot of contradictory information about this and different opinions about resistant starch (and believe it or not, fibre in general… It is a minefield out there and frankly there are people on some very strange diets!!!).

Well, here i am talking about unpleasant bodily functions again… well, someone has to!

As i said in my recent post about my visit to see the POTS specialist, i explained to her how my IBS has been getting gradually worse and worse over the last few months. She gave me a diet sheet and said that advice has recently changed on how to deal with it diet-wise. (She is heavily involved with ME patients, which is why she probably had an IBS diet sheet in her unrelated hospital ward!)

This is interesting to me as i have had IBS symptoms throughout my illness to some extent, it was particularly bad early on, but seems to be flaring up now as well, who knows why… I have experiemented radically with my diet before and had very limited success with it. These symptoms were some of the most distressing and debilitating that i had when i first became ill, i lost a lot of weight and i would often not leave the house because of it, never mind due to other symptoms or energy issues. Nothing i did seemed to make much difference and after quite some time it seemed to improve along with my general levels of health for reasons and logic unknown to me. It was a bit “chicken and egg”: did i feel better because my IBS was better? Or did my digestive function improve as my body was functioning better in general? I really can’t say.

So anyway, this new leaflet has sections on “wind and bloating”, “diarrhea” and “constipation”; and has advice for each set of symptoms. It says to try adjusting diet according to which symptoms are the most problematic at the current time…

The advice used to be to increase the amount of fibre in the diet, but now it is not necessarily a good idea, and that people with a very high fibre diet may need to decrease the amount. I am a vegetarian and have a very high fibre diet and have noticed that if i eat extra fruit and raw veg it makes things much worse. I also reacted very badly to “Fibogel” a brand of powdered drink that contains soluble fibre and it meant to help with digestive problems.

The leaflet has a section on “resistant starches”. I have never heard of them but it seems that they are a type of starch that is not broken down in the small intestine, but that travels through to the colon where it is broken down by fermentation… It is apparently a healthy thing (there is “good gas”) and is added to a lot of food products to increase the fibre content and “healthy values” associated with it. BUT it seems that if you have IBS or trouble with your digestive system it can be hard to digest and cause a lot of unpleasant wind production (that’s the fermentation bit) and be too laxative. I think as these are my main issues that i should try to reduce these type of starches and see if it helps, but as a veggie this is going to be very hard, and i have yet to find much detailed info about which food products are ok…

It seems that the amount of resistant starch in some things actually goes up when they are cooked then cooled, so it is best to eat things freshly cooked and still hot and not the next day as leftovers (something i do a lot as it helps me energywise when my partner is not in to prepare food for me).

The diet sheet says: Resistant Starches (explains what they are, see above, then…) Try reducing  your intake of the following foods:

  • pulses, whole grains, sweetcorn, green bananas, and muesli that contains bran
  • undercooked or reheated potato or maize/corn
  • oven chips, crisps, potato waffles, fried rice – choose baked potatoes or boiled rice
  • part-baked or reheated breads, such as garlic bread, pizza base – choose fresh breads
  • processed food such as potato or pasta salad, or manufactured biscuits or cakes
  • ready meals containing potato or pasta
  • dried pasta – use fresh pasta instead

So the things that concern me here are firstly the pulses and whole grains… being a veggie and health conscious i hardly ever eat an unwhole grain and as i think beans must be included in the “pulses” category as they are not otherwise mentioned i am really scuppered… As with most veggies, my main protein source is beans of various types… i eat soya products like tofu and soya milk but am unsure if they count, as are not in wholegrain form and may be more digestible? I also eat muesli every morning but i don’t think it has bran in it…

I find that eggs do not digest well for me, which is a shame, so then i am just left with dairy products (protein wise) and as a person who cannot exercise i cannot really eat lots of cheese for protein if i don’t want to pile on the pounds can I? Plus dairy products do upset some people… i eat a lot of low fat yogurt so hope this is not a problem as well.

The other thing that could be an issue is that i like to crunch on rice cakes and oat cakes, but do these count as reheated/processed grains as they are baked (like biscuits/cakes mentionned in the list above)? I have avoided eating too much wheat in the past as I wondered if it was upsetting me, but maybe bread would be better than crispbread type things after all?

So as you can see this has opened up a can o worms…

It also says for wind and bloating:

  • limit fruit to 3 portions a day and make up rest with veg (it explains what a portion is)
  • Oats and golden linseeds may also help with wind and bloating
  • you may wish to try probiotics… (more detail given, including to try different ones for month at a time as they have different bacteria that may suit some more than others…)

The advice for diarrhea is fairly similar to the above, as well as avoiding fatty foods.

For constipation (not really my problem but may be yours!) it says

  • fibre may help with constipation, but can make wind, bloating, pain and diarrhea worse. Fibre intake should be adjusted according to effect and reduced if necessary. If you do increase your fibre intake do so gradually because any sudden increase can make things worse.
  • For symptoms of constipation only, try wholegrains, along with fruit and veg, introducing no more than one extra portion over a 2 day period.
  • Oats and golden linseeds are good sources of soluble fibre which make the stool softer and easier to pass
  • Drink least 8 cups of non-caffinated fluid per day
  • probiotics may help

I also found this power point presentatin online about IBS and diet:

It has more information about what foods are likely to be ok and which may not, and goes into more detail about how to do what is basically an elimination diet. This is where you eat only safe foods for a time (usually several weeks) then when your system is calm and symptom free you introduce one food at a time (often just one per week) to see if there is any reaction. This is used to see if you have any food sensitivites/intolerances. I have done this before and with no real conclusions – it is a real challenge and i am not really prepared to do it again unless things get a lot worse!

I think what i am going to do is to eat a basic diet for a week or so and see if my symptoms do improve. If they do then i will know it is worth playing with my diet to see if i can avoid the worst symptoms in future when i have a flare-up. Just giving my system a rest may help in itself. I think my diet in general is pretty good and has not changed radically for years and most of the time there have only been minor issues on the digestive front so i think it is more a case of managing flare-ups than identifying food intolerance and making great changes. I already do not eat great quantities of dairy products (only really live yogurts and a tiny bit of cheese), and i also avoid eating a lot of wheat, which are the main triggers for people in general… this has generally worked for me.

From reading about it and thinking about it i feel my main issue is likely to be speed of digestive transit. My main issues are wind and stomach pain and going to the toilet too frequently. I think that maybe food is not being completely digested as it is going too fast to have enough time to break down properly, and not enough is being digested in the small colon. Reducing fibre (particularly resistant starches) i think may help this. Also from the power point presentation i think i maybe need to eat less raw foods so that they are easier to digest (no more raw sugar snap pea snacks for me! See how healthy i should be – it’s so unfair!)

I am going to detail my plan of action in the next post as this one is getting overly long!

ME/CFS Awareness

ME/CFS Awareness


January 2019
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