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Summary

Dietary fiber is the unsung hero of our digestive tract, and resistant starches are great for you too. What are the health effects of starches and fibers? This article will focus on “resistant starches” (fiber and other indigestible components in starchy foods like potatoes) and dietary fiber. Fiber and resistant starches can:

  • Help you lower your cholesterol
  • Prevent diabetes by lowering blood glucose levels
  • Help you maintain a lower weight
  • Increase your lifespan
  • Prevent diseases like cardiovascular disease and cancer

So, let’s look at the health effects of starches and fibers and how they can benefit your overall health.

Health Effects of Resistant Starches

Resistant starches are the part of starchy foods, like potatoes and whole wheat bread, that is indigestible and acts as fiber [1].

Resistant starches are great for your healthy gut bacteria

Our gut microbiome (the bacteria that make up the digestive system) is essential for digestion and disease prevention [2]. An unhealthy microbiome results in conditions like malnutrition, diabetes, inflammatory bowel diseases, and colorectal cancer.

Our gut bacteria need resistant starches because they provide the food our bacteria need to perform their vital roles. Researchers found in a recent study that digestion-resistant starches may help prevent disease by increasing your healthy gut bacteria levels, but more work remains in this area [3].

Read the “13 Best Prebiotic Foods to Eat.”

Resistant starches can reduce obesity prevalence

Obesity is a problem affecting many populations around the world. We now know that starches and sugars increase weight, and our increasingly sedentary lifestyle doesn’t help. We eat too many calories and don’t burn off enough, as a rule. But indigestible resistant starches might be a great solution to this problem without the need for pharmaceuticals [4].

A recent review examining the effect of resistant starches and fibers found that eating more of these foods reduced overall weight and risk of chronic diseases and cardiovascular diseases typically associated with this [5].

Certain food ca also increase your blood flow. Check out the “14 Foods That Increase Blood Flow.”

A reduction in obesity has bigger impacts from a disease perspective

Obesity is a bigger problem than weight alone. The human body isn’t built to be significantly overweight, which leads to an abundance of problems, including cardiovascular disease, excessive joint wear, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, and other conditions that reduce the quality of life and shorten overall lifespan [6]. Foods high in resistant starches can help you maintain weight and reduce rapid weight gain [7].

Health Effects of Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber differs from resistant starches because it is found in various foods (starchy or not). Dietary fiber is a bigger category that includes vegetable and fruit-based fiber and fibers found in animal products [8, 9]. Resistant starches are a form of dietary fiber.

Dietary fiber can reduce your risk of developing chronic diseases

In a recent study, dietary fiber from a variety of sources reduced the prevalence of multiple diseases in American children and adults. The risk of coronary heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, gastrointestinal diseases, immune disorders, and high blood pressure and cholesterol were lower in groups who consumed adequate dietary fiber [10, 11].

Dietary fiber is vital for a long, healthy life no matter the source (vegetables, fruit, or resistant starches). Of course, there are nutritional differences between these foods, but when choosing your daily menu, make sure you select enough dietary fiber (the recommendation is 25-50 grams per day, preferably in foods, not supplements) [12, 13].

Dietary fiber might be a key player in memory and mood disorders

While this is a very new topic and little is known about it, dietary fiber could also be responsible for brain functions in addition to protecting us from many different diseases and weight maintenance. Researchers recently discovered that increasing dietary fiber intake was also associated with improvements in mood and memory and infection prevention [14].

How these processes occur and what they could mean for our health are unknown, but this provides another great reason to make sure you’re getting your daily recommended fiber.

In conclusion, what are the health effects of starches and fibers?

Resistant starches and dietary fiber are part of a healthy eating plan [15]. Lowering your intake of processed foods and increasing the vegetables, fruits, and whole foods in your diet can help you achieve your recommended daily intake goals.

Simple choices like whole wheat instead of white bread can further boost your levels of these healthy nutrients. Fiber is associated with reducing chronic diseases and obesity and may even reduce your risk of developing memory or mood disorders.

This underrated dietary hero deserves a spot at your table, and there are many easy ways to increase your levels [16].

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