Thursday, July 30, 2015

The Bifidogenic Properties of Raw Potato Starch

Moved to
Bifidobacteria; courtesy of MicrobeWiki



  1. I tried RPS around a year ago. Initially I felt better, but after a number of months the bloating became unbearable. I was also trying to get a good dose of RS3 at the time, which I think had too much digestible carbs and made my symptoms worse (I still struggle with any moderate amount of carbs).
    I'm definatley going to start giving this to my son (who has a good daily blend of prebiotics), but am undecided as to whether to try myself or not.
    I know the easiest thing would be to just try, but as I'm starting to get better, my negative symptoms seem to take longer to present themselves. So I suppose the question is - do you think other 'gurus' condemnation of RPS has any validity for people with dysbiosis?

    1. Everyone is going to react differently to almost every intervention when dysbiosis is apparent. I chose the topic and title of this post carefully to point out to the reader that I am not attempting to formulate a strategy of fixing dysbiosis.

      In a healthy gut ecosystem, potato starch has been predicted to feed bifidobacteria. Any attempts at stating that potato starch is harmful to a healthy gut are, in my opinion, completely unfounded.

      For those attempting to repair the damage of long-term eating patterns that were not quite so good for the gut, antibiotics, or any other causes of gut dysbiosis, I think it is worthy of note that raw potato starch has been found to increase one of the most universally recognized probiotic species. This in no way implies that eating RPS will correct all gut dysbiosis.

      If RPS causes discomfort or a worsening of symptoms, it is highly indicative of a loss of microbes that can utilize RPS as a food source. Recovering from this situation requires a careful approach. At this point, I think it is wise to cautiously review all advice (guru and conventional medicine alike) and not get too wrapped up in any approach that guarantees "fast fixes" especially if they require you sending money to someone on the internet.

    2. As usual Tim, your advice is very helpful and logical. I will leave this experiment for myself for the minute as I feel its too risky at the moment.

      An update on the blueberries/ oat bran and inulin - I continue to do well with a little blip along the way. Thinking other polyphenols might also be helpful, I tried strawberries and raspberries along with the blueberries. Raspberries - fine, strawberries - feeling of tiredness and headaches.

      Oat bran - I've tried regular oat bran after our discussion and now have no issues at all, so have been using up the oatwell while using the regular stuff on top.

      Inulin I've been using for quite some time now, but only recently managed to get hold of the beneo orafti inulin (had to buy 20kgs!), so have been using 2tsp normal inulin + 2tsp orafti, 3 times/ day.

      Overall I'm very pleased - my skin at a quick glance now looks normal (unless you get close and start scrutinising). I hope it continues (if not gets better still!)

    3. Rob,

      Don't forget that there are many other fiber types out there. They don't all do the same thing, and some are considered gentler than others. Inulin is another great fiber, but it might cause issues. Glucomannan, psyllium husk, and partially hydrolized guar gum are often described as gentler.

      Don't move fast. Take an amount of something that is impossible to cause problems, say 1/8 tsp. give it a week or two. Then add a different fiber in an amount impossible to cause problems. Get about 3 or 4 fibers going, then up the dosage of one. Go slow.

      Tim, I'm not sure I understand what you mean that if RPS (or any other fiber) causes problems that it's indicative of a loss of microbes that can utilize RPS s a good source. It seems to me to indicate the opposite. That there is indeed microbes that are fermenting it, for otherwise it would pass unnoticed. Instead, it seems that there is a lack of diversity or an imbalance hat prevents the byproducts of the RPS fermentation from being utilized as food, such as gasses, etc.

      I think it's hilarious that I eat 120+ g fiber / day, yet if I eat beans after sometime away (I eat them less in the summer), I get great gas. Big farts. But that's only for day one. The next day, I can eat more without any unusual gas. My gut is not ready for the first bowl. The beans are certainly digested, but the byproducts (gasses) are not. The second day, the support staff is ready!

      But I'm starting from a now healthy gut. The support staff is presenting good enough proportions to adapt quickly. But in a dysbiotic gut? Maybe it takes more time. Maybe bacteria need time to evolve to handle new sources of food.

      I followed my advice here when I started my cure. I didn't go from 0 to literally 120. I started very slow. At a certain point, I was able to increase my rate of acceleration, but that was after a few months.

    4. Rob, you posted while I was typing! My suggestions might be a bit off, so adjust accordingly.

    5. This is a really good point Wilbur. I think many who have tried RPS give up because of all the gas that is produced. That means fermentation, right? The problem is, the gas will not pass and it becomes painful (bloat) and they give up.

    6. Wilbur said: "Instead, it seems that there is a lack of diversity or an imbalance hat prevents the byproducts of the RPS fermentation from being utilized as food, such as gasses, etc. "

      Yes, that seems to be more accurate, thanks.

      I know that most people reading this are here because they have gut problems. Each person is completely unique. There is no way that anyone can offer much of a "cure" based on a few lines in a comment.

      I've also seen some very hard cases that just don't seem to respond to anything, so I have pretty much given up on trying to cure anyone of any specific dysbiosis.

      I will, however, continue to highlight important discoveries and new developments in the gut-health world, as I think that sometimes these provide clues that people can use when working their problems out.

      The fact that RPS creates such massive amounts of bifidobacteria in my intestines is only shown to demonstrate that there are indeed bifidogenic qualities as discussed in many research articles.

      I've looked at gut reports from people who claim they are fit and healthy with no digestive complaints who have no bifidobacteria.

      I think we are a long, long way from trying to tailor our gut flora to create certain populations of bacteria. But knowing what fibers and combinations people are using to good effect can be very enlightening for those people who have problems and who are trying to come up with a plan.

      The fact there was almost no bifidobacteria when I was doing my "Half-Wilbur" does not concern me in the least, and I felt just as healthy then as I do now.

      Your creative fiber blend is undoubtedly agreeing with you, hopefully one of these days we'll get to take a peek at what is lurking in you. Come on, Wilbur...spill your guts! $80. For science.

    7. Rob, have you ever tried, or considered, digestive enzymes? Carbgest enzymes helped both my kids when they had problems with complex carbs. For one, it helped enough that he got on an improving trend overall and RPS helped push him over the edge so that he could eat all the carbs just fine without the enzymes. I hear that's not uncommon (that they help improve the environment and gut health trends better). It didn't work like that for my other kid, but it did stop the noticeable problems she had with complex carbs (pain, bloating, like that). There are probably other helpful brands of enzymes, that's just the one I ended up with because it's skewed toward lots of help with carbs (vs fats or protein).


    8. I can chime in on the benefits of digestive enzymes, too. A new colleague of mine told me she's had a lot less bloating after meals using those(like me she has IBS) so I got a bottle and I now feel I don't even have to take them with every meal any longer. It's only been about a month, now.

      I've a question too... Just out of curiosity-knowing what all of you do here and what some of you have to contend with, this no quick fix. How long does it take to get reasonably well again? Please know that I'm prepared even if it takes forever and I'm not in any hurry, not at all. Just curious. :)

    9. Thanks for the comments everyone.

      @Wilbur - I think you're right. If I stick to my routine, some days I feel really good - and it lulls me into a false sense of security. I then make the mistake of going too fast and then things begin to unravel. I think I'll stick with the 'patented' intervention (plus other fibres) for a couple of weeks, then try a new fibre (probably baobab) at a much lower dose.

      @Tanya/ Sparris. Thanks for this suggestion. I did try them previously, but that was when I was still reacting to everything (mainly because I hadn't at that point nailed down all my allergens). I will keep the enzymes in my memory bank for when I begin to (hopefully at some point) re-introduce starchy foods

      In terms of how long to get reassonably well (which is how I's probably term myself now - providing I stick to plan) - I think it took me above 3 years - BUT - that was because it took me that long to figure out my own personal issues. I'd misinterpreted an immune response to food (i.e. running to toilet 20 minutes after eating dairy) as a potential positive (the dairy being kefir) - which I'd interpretated as a 'die off' reaction.

      Other trials that seemed to work initially were food exclusions. Limiting fodmaps seemed to help at first, but I was quickly running out of options for food and symptoms were getting gradually worse.

      I think if I'd known what I know now, I believe I could have cut out at least 2 years of suffering.

      In a funny way though - I'm grateful for it (less pain would have been nice though!). My father has peripheral neuropathy which I've been able to help manage through diet, though it was tough - he did not want to give up the cakes! Also my son who is adopted and did not have the best start in life - had major problems with breathing and was beginning to fit the definition of asthma - we've got him taking fibres and eating very well (he always asks for raw onion!). He now shows no signs of any breathing issues.

      I have said it before, but can't help myself - this site and group of contributors have been a god send and I wish I could express my feelings of gratitude better!

  2. I have trouble with too many carbs, too, Rob. I also had problems with potato starch. And bloating, so I'm still a work in progress. I would sell my soul for a flat stomach. Elixa helped me quite a bit--I'm back to the level or dysfunction I was at about four years ago, which is better than it sounds.

    1. It is very difficult and complex. It has taken me above 4 years to get to this point - i.e. where I'm generally not worrying about finding a toilet and 80% pain free. But if I deviate slightly, all toilet troubles are back, headaches return and fortunatley I don't have any skin issues, except on my face(!) - so I turn into Freddy Kruegger! I think we should have a baby belly competition, I'm down to around 5 months now

    2. Kath/Rob - I know that I am doing folks like you a disservice when I talk non-stop about RS and other things you can't tolerate. I wish I had more answers concerning dysbiosis. All you guys can do is keep trying, and when you've explored every avenue, consider (carefully) a pharmaceutical approach.

      There are many mysteries in the gut, even doctors are just guessing. But most doctors know nothing of RS and fermentable fiber, so many of the people they could help, they don't.

      Good luck! Keep us posted.

    3. I'm glad you've kept banging on about RS as well as other things.

      I think there is a 'key' for everyone, but finding it and homing in can take some real time and effort. On top of that - trying to decipher what is a positive reaction that is causing a temporary worsening of symptoms and what is a negative reaction that will ultimately lead no where, is very tricky.

      I've had a bad day today - been to the toilet 5 times, each one taking a not in-significant amount of time. But only minor pain, no tiredness, no headache or struggling to think, no extreme bloating (just usual amount), no desperation where I needed to get to the toilet in 5 seconds or else and not much Freddy Krueger face. This would have been a very good day for me 1 year ago.

      If this was as good as it gets - its more than tolerable, but I think persistence will eventually pay off. Your efforts and that of others on this site is more than commendable and I hope you don't stop. This place is really the only one where I get new ideas to try.

      On a side note, I'm currently reading 'The Good Gut' by Justin & Erica Sonnenburg. I can't remember the exact phrasing of the paragraph (& I'm working away at the min) - but the upshot was that to change gut flora through diet took around 1 year to accomplish - unless the diet was really bad, in which case the composition could go down hill rather rapidly.

      Hence there may be no quick fixes!

    4. I don't think it has to take that long, Rob. Ask Tim, my gut per AmGut testing was as bad as you can get. 75% morganella morganii. Chronic morning D. I felt much better after diet changes within a few months, though I could not tolerate PS. The first day without the morning urgency was a day after I had a boba tea -- the boba balls are tapioca. And I knew very little about good starches then. When I started on Prescription Assist, that changed my life by day 2. I only got another gut test after 9 months, though, and my gut was completely different and much much better. No sign of morganella. I think (and so many through their tests too display this) it's POSSIBLE to change the population much faster than the literature suggests. I don't think we can be sure how, but I think it is possible.

    5. The mention of boba/bubble tea reminded me-wouldn't both yokan(made with cooked azuki beans) and mochi(pounded glutinous rice) contain resistant starch..?

  3. I appreciate this article tremendously, since I've been dumping PS into my evening salad mush for a long time now - I don't know, almost two years maybe. My problem is constipation. At first there was a drastic improvement, but things are still not bad (for me). Since I have no real pain it's difficult to tell what is normal for me, how much better I can get. First of all, I take magnesium daily, some salt in the morning, and coffee - so is it any of these that are also helping? Hard to know. I'm about the start a round of the probiotic Elixa, and am looking forward to seeing what happens. I'm also a little nervous... What confuses me a little, is everyone is talking about fiber, but if the bacteria isn't there the fiber would seem useless. And why isn't the bacteria there, and more important, how to get it there seems to be the big question.

    Love love love this post! I'm keeping on with my PS!


    1. "...if the bacteria isn't there the fiber would seem useless. And why isn't the bacteria there, and more important, how to get it there seems to be the big question."

      I hear you. And this is the big question. Personally, I think nature has a plan to get the right microbes into your gut. The plan is simple, the microbes that should be in your gut, want really, really badly to get into your gut.

      I am always amazed when reading studies on the colonization of newborns by different microbes, not just gut but entire body. Not all of the bacteria we need as adults are found in newborns, but within a year or two, viola, there they are!

      I will say with my dying breath that all one has to do is eat human-appropriate foods, including lots of fiber, and your gut flora will be one that keeps you healthy, even if the report doesn't match mine.

      Why some people continue to have problems despite years of "doing everything right" continues to perplex me. I've talked to several people whose guts "turned" on them quickly and nothing they do gets them back on track.

      Could there be a parasite we can't see? A mechanical defect that is hard to find? An auto-immune condition we can't detect?

      I think the worst thing one can do is to continue to eat a crappy, low-fiber diet and take Pepto Bismol or Nexium to hide the symptoms.

      Let us know how the Elixa works for you! It seems to be the probiotic du jour, let's hope it lives up to its hype.

      Thanks for the note.

    2. Debbie, Dr. Art talks about that over at 'Cooling Inflammation'; home-made fermented vegies, garden vegetables not scrubbed clean, and a return to a less hygienic way of living, at least that's my take. May help return some of the bugs until poop pills become OTC.


    3. Thanks, Tim. I definitely won't ever be going back to crappy eating even if I never go more than the current schedule. I'll let you know how the Elixa works; it hasn't arrived yet. As I said, I'm a little nervous - what if it gives me the opposite problem? Can you imagine?

      SL: I do eat plenty of fermented vegetables and fermented vegetable juice, so if Dr. Art is right, I should be one day - cured! Thanks.

    4. My bad gut came after making my own raw milk kefir and possibly getting lazy with cleaning everything scrupulously. Or maybe that batch of milk had something from the cow, that was not in enough quantity to hurt Cowsie or my little baby (under one year) or me, but in culturing grew into a White Devil of Diarrhea. I was the only one who drank the kefir.

      My dysbiotic gut started on a dime, though. One confounding variable was that I had been eating truly raw almonds from a farmer, but others were eating them too and I took a negative salmonella test right away.

  4. I am getting a grip on my Histamine intolerance, so it is onto the next phase. My orthomolecular therapist wanted to start to deal with another aspect of my gut problems: my low stomach acid. She has prescribed a course of Biotics Hydro-Zyme. So went onto Google to research the subject, and crikey, did I learn a lot.

    When hydrochloric acid is lacking one can develop multiple food sensitivities as abnormally large, inadequately digested food particles are absorbed, triggering an immune response. (Belching, gas, indigestion, poor appetite, prolonged fullness after meals, bloating, constipation, and diarrhea). No wonder I am never hungry and explains the Histamine intolerance. No wonder I couldn’t get a handle on my very erratic blood sugar levels.

    On Amazon, I happened to come across a book called “Why Stomach Acid is Good For You” by Jonathan Wright and Lane Lenard. It arrived yesterday and immediately started browsing. I came across some interesting facts confirming what I had already learned on the internet.

    Why fiber and low stomach acid don’t mix. Fiber can bind with nutrients and actually remove them from the body before they have a chance to get absorbed.

    No wonder I was having trouble with my gut. None of the experiments I did with RS and fiber seemed to work.

    Low stomach acid also promotes bacterial overgrowth of the wrong kind. H. pylori can survive the acidic environment of a normal stomach, making it very hard to eradicate. They devote a whole chapter on H. pylori.

    Lots more reading to do.

    Jo tB

    1. @ Jo - does anything you're reading mention the importance of adequate salt in the diet?

    2. Yes, it does. I add 1/2 teaspoon of celtic sea salt to the liter of water I drink per day. As I eat low carb/paleo with lots of vegetables I need to make sure I get enough salt and as I don't like salty food, I do the water bit. However, my diabetes nurse freaked out when I told her about the salt in the water bit. She thought I was getting too much salt. I'm not, as I don't eat any commercially processed food.


    3. @ Jo - I went through something similar, I was amazed to discover how little salt I was getting all these years of "eating right". I tried the water trick as well but what works better for me is to put my salt on a teaspoon of honey, a couple of times a day. I just wasn't hanging onto it when drinking it. I also had to learn to eat saltier food. At first it was awful! Now I crave it. I'm sure we're all bound to be different, but I need more than 1/2 tsp. I probably get twice that now and cutting back the water helped as well. I'm not low carb anymore though,it just didn't suit my metabolism, so that may make some difference?

    4. Thanks for the tip. I'm sure my salt intake is low. I think I will add the salt to my tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning. I want to avoid sweet things, as it triggers my cravings. And as I am making lots of soups, I could add a full tablespoon to the pan of soup. I think I should also measure the salt before I add it to food. I usually just shake some salt out of the shaker.


    5. Jo - Yes to soup especially! It draws the goodness out of the veg/meat and into the broth, so it's important to a good broth.

      Briefly, my story with salt - I'd been feeling lousy/low/headachey etc. I accidentally salted a stew twice. I tasted it, thought "oh no, too salty" but when I ate that stew I began to feel better. Realizing it may have been the salt, I began to really make an effort to salt all my food. It helped tremendously. I think salt in water just goes right through us, or in some people lead to water retention, but salt in food stays in the stomach longer where it normalizes stomach acid and leads to better digestion. Then everything works better downstream.

      Don't be afraid of honey! If it triggers a craving just have more. Honey does a body good and it's self limiting; you really can't eat too much before the body signals it has had enough. We have cravings for sweet for a reason, I think we ought to honour them.

    6. True Cukey. It's the reason I get cravings for a good pot of soup. The broth needs to have enough salt in it. People eating my cooking in the past would say 'it needs more salt'. I thought, no way, it's salty enough for me. But then, like you, I was feeling lethargic and enervated. I thought, okay, increase the salt gradually and see what happens. It's all good.

  5. I've been eating some salt in the morning - like maybe 1/4 teaspoon or a little more, which I just eat off the spoon and follow down with water. I'm concerned I don't eat enough salt otherwise; I only eat two meals a day, and dinner has zero added salt. I could probably use even more. But I drink fermented vegetable juice and that has salt. It's hard to know any of this for sure.


  6. When I have burps and reflux, I drink salted water (I don't measure it) and it 'settles' my stomach.

    Also, when I sweat a lot during the summer (especially during a heat wave - I have no air conditioner), I drink fruit juice diluted with water and I add salt (again no measurements). This drink quenches my thirst.


  7. hi. i have been a follower for a long time and an early PS adopter (helped make me regular). so by accident i bought a five pound bag of tapioca flour instead of PS and it would cost me half of what i paid to send it back. I have forgotten what the conclusion is with RS and tapioca flour!! should i try using it instead of PS? should i get more PS and since i have the TF just start adding it in? is TF a good source of RS?

    1. I cannot say for sure on tapioca starch. I've seen it listed in research papers from 0-60%. It all depends on how it was processed. Without having a sample of the batch you are using tested, it is impossible to say.

      I bought a bag a couple years ago, used about half of it, and it did not seem to be doing anything, so I stopped using it.

      The sad thing is, though. The same problems plague potato starch, although I think potato starch seems to be a much safer bet. I have started using this brand of organic potato starch myself.

    2. Why the change from Bob's? Is there any difference?

    3. I wanted to use an organic brand. Potatoes get lots of spray, at least being organic labeled might preclude getting some pesticide. I have no idea if Bob's has anything bad in it, probably not.

      The only reason I liked Bob's at first is because it was easily recognizable and it's everywhere in stores. I guess I'm becoming a bit of a snob wanting organic, but I am eating the stuff every day now for almost 3 years.

  8. So, I promised I'd report back on my experience with Elixa. No noticeable change. I have been losing weight, incredibly ! and feeling good, but it's hard to attribute that to Elixa. I've been eating somewhat less, and that is probably why I've lost weight.

    I checked out Tim's recommended products for the first time (I currently eat 4 tablespoons of PS at dinner) and see a lot to experiment with. I don't know where to start! For Miss Constipation - any suggestions?