The Human Microbiome

      22 Comments on The Human Microbiome

Part three of my interview about resistant starch with Richard Nikoley, Tim Steele and Grace Liu will run on Monday, but in the meantime, I thought I’d post a link to an article about the human microbiome that appeared in The Economist.  It’s a nice introduction to the topic.

That is, after all, what we’re talking about when it comes to the benefits of resistant starch – feeding the gut bugs that make up the microbiome.


22 thoughts on “The Human Microbiome

  1. charles grashow


    What are you thoughts on your good friend Jimmy’s latest dietary “stunt”?

    “My own personal ketogenic rehabilitation plan: 5 local pastured eggs cooked in salted Kerrygold grassfed butter with garlic spices and a whole stick of unsalted Kerrygold grassfed butter.

    After returning from last week’s Paleo(f)x conference travel from South Carolina to Austin, Texas, my ketones and blood sugar have been going wacky on me. So to help get things back in line again, this is a great go-to meal to push ketone levels higher, blood sugar levels lower. If you’re ever struggling with ketone production, try this and see how you do.”

    My thought is that a whole stick of butter would make me gag — even KerryGold butter.

  2. Gerard

    So i’ve just read part 1 and part 2.

    I see alot of people eating raw potato starch. I’ve been eating 1 to 3 raw potatoes every day for the last week to experiment. Feel fine – no different, no gas. Is there any data available on how much resistant starch I should be eating? Im assuming raw potato is a majority resistant starch? I don’t want to be reliant on some product (potato starch) to do this. With the exception of pro biotic initially. I also don’t want to be getting an insulin hit when trying to the right thing. Bowl Cancer is very prevalent in my family – I lost my grand mother to it and almost lost my mother.

    Your being a very naughty liberterian btw… Thats the fourth Australian Government production you have released on your site. 3 from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation 100% Government funded by tax payers like me. And now the CSIRO – another Government funded research organization.

    Conservatives party I think want to privatize the ABC. Over most of the left, the right and my dead body.

    As a libertarian, I have no problem sharing videos that taxpayers funded. If we’re talking about pirating and sharing a privately funded video, then I’d have a problem.

    I believe a raw potato is mostly resistant starch, but I’ll let the panel chime in. This stuff is still relatively new to me. They suggest getting 30-40 grams per day.

    1. Gerard

      Good for you mate… share it! Government run ABC is great… Better then anything the private media has produced here.

      Id like to think we do a good job of stopping all anointed visionaries here – if they are left, right or libertarian – truth is always at the center. Keep the bloody current 3rd way system alive from the 80s 🙂 is my motto. Enjoy the continued Government funded videos and free trade my nation provides. 3rd way free market socialism is the key to wealth mate.

      I’ll stay tuned on the issue of diet. I’m fascinated by this topic. This put EVERYTHING on its head for me.

      Big Kudos to you for being open and not cognitively dissident on issues on diet and publishing this being frank and open. Your a good bloke mate.

    2. Grace/Dr.BG

      Great question. Various experts believe we need 40-80 g total fiber daily for optimal gut function for disease and cancer prevention. Our paleo ancestors received even more than this perhaps 80-120 g/day or even higher.

      I peg optimal to breakdown as:
      RS 20-40 g/day (tubers, roots, legumes, grains, nuts, seeds)
      NSP 10-20 g/day (salads, vegs, fruit, skins, grains, legumes)
      Oligos 5-10 g/day (inulin, onion, leeks, garlic, endive, beans, lentils, chana dal, beets, rice and oat bran, etc)

      Legumes, heirloom tubers and soaked whole grains may be low GI and FYI not impact blood sugars esp once insulin sensitivity is achieved via hormone balancing, exercise, gaining muscle mass and reduction in mental stress.

    1. Dave L

      It would be nice if that list specified whether certain items like raw beans are in fact edible or not. I think we all hate those “dummy” warnings and labels on products, but the fact is that some people will make certain assumptions about safety and attempt to eat raw toxic beans for the RS content.

      I am also reminded of Mathieu Lalonde’s caution when analyzing data based on raw vs cooked foods.

      Since cultures around the world have taken the time to soak and ferment beans, my guess is that most of them aren’t edible raw. Green beans and sugar-snap peas seem to be the exception.

  3. Dianne

    Does anyone know if I can use Plantain Flour instead of Potato Flour? I’m sensitive to nightshades:-( I am trying the Potato Flour and am getting good results, but am beginning to get some soreness in my hands.

    Yes, plantain and green banana flours are high in RS.

    1. Ed

      Quick note. Raw unmodified potato starch and potato flour are NOT the same thing. At least not in the U.S., other places the terms may be interchangeable.

    2. Becky

      How ’bout tapioca starch? I didn’t see it mentioned, but I could have missed it. Solves the nightshade problem, and a LOT easier to find than banana or plantain flour. Will it, raw, feed the gut bugs?

      All I see on Tim’s list is tapioca pearls.

      1. Cindy C

        Bob’s Red Mill has tapioca pearls The recipe and cooking instructions is how to make pudding adding sugar. On line there are instructions on how to cook the pearls, but the size of them and the soaking before hand, and how long to cook varies. How can they be cooked to make the starch resistant?

  4. Paul Eilers

    Is eating a baked potato with butter and other healthy fats a good way to get resistant starch? (I also take several spoonfuls of Bob’s Red Mill Potato Starch every day.)

    To get resistant starch from that baked potato, you’d want to bake it, cool it in the fridge, then reheat it later. That’s what I’ve been doing.

  5. Nikki

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    Great summary that helps me especially after reading Dr. Gracie’s blog. I was beginning to understand that my IBS was a combination of leaky gut/inflammation/gut dysbiosis due to poor dietary habits.

  6. Ruth

    “Roux-en-Y, which short-circuits the small intestine……Dr Nicholson and his colleagues show that Roux-en-Y causes the composition of the gut microbiome to change”

    You don’t suppose that’s because all of the starch those patients eat becomes “resistant” starch because all of the starch they eat reaches their colons?

    Interesting thought.

  7. Miyanna

    Just wanted to say thanks for all the incredible info. I went to Whole Foods the other day and they are completely out of stock of Potato starch.

    Reading these blogs led me to all the other relevant articles regarding resistant starch – I probably would have found them eventually, but in my case sooner is better!

    I love potatoes immensely. High fat / low carbohydrate / moderate protein has been incredible, but I missed baked potatoes. Now I have re-discovered another love I had long forgotten about: potato salad (most likely due to common and deleterious supermarket deli ingredients). I found a wonderful Paleo potato salad recipe that has me eating cold potatoes like never before. Goes good with pastured beef and dark leafy green salad!

    Although I’ve read Gary Taubes, Nora Gedgaudas, and Maria Emmerich over the last few years, I hadn’t seen Fat Head. When I did, I recognized some scenes from some other presentations I’d seen on YouTube. Really lifted my spirits and solidified my otherwise vacillating approach to diet. Your website is an ever-evolving treasure trove of scientific evaluation and good old-fashioned satire.

    Thank you, and enjoy the potato salad.

  8. Moreorless

    I think most people on a low carb diet eventually clue into the fact that it isn’t as a good idea as the guru’s had us believe. Sooner of later the dreaded carbohydrates you once feared will eventually improve your health. I’ve read so many low carb and paleo books and slowly came the realization that I had indeed been “fed a bunch of bologna”.

    Part of the problem is people confusing “low-carb” with “no-carb.” Even Dr. Atkins himself instructed his patients to stay on the induction phase for two weeks, then start raising the carb count by five grams per week until finding a maintenance level.

  9. Cindy C

    There is evidence of the role of pain killers and damage to the gut. Leaving off gluten seemed to help heal my gut, and reduce my pain. Then I could go off pain killers, and thus further heal my gut. Then I can handle more foods instead of being sensitive to them, however, I am still not sure if I can safely re introduce gluten.

    There is going to be some pain associated with wound and body healing. Interfering too much in that process that begins with inflammation, will interfere with the healing.

    I wouldn’t be in any hurry to re-introduce gluten.

  10. Moreorless

    “Part of the problem is people confusing “low-carb” with “no-carb.” Even Dr. Atkins himself instructed his patients to stay on the induction phase for two weeks, then start raising the carb count by five grams per week until finding a maintenance level.”

    That’s true. But a lot of the low carb guru’s demonize all forms of starch. “Carbs are carbs, they all turn to glucose like sugar”.

    Gary Taubes, Fred Hahn, Ron Rosedale, Michale Eades, Etc.

    They have their whole career tied up in promoting the idea that starches are harmful.. Taubes seems to be changing his tune to an extent but he isn’t doing a very good job of it. In my opinion.

    You may find my comments a bit snarky Tom, but I am genuinely glad your promoting this kind of research.

    I also initially adopted the mindset that if low-carb is good, zero-carb is better, at least aside from the carbs in vegetables and fruits that provide necessary nutrients. I changed my view on that for several reasons, one of which was reading the excellent book “Catching Fire: How Cooking Made Us Human.” It was clear from the research cited in that book that tubers were part of the human diet going way, way back. That’s when I started adding sweet potatoes back into my diet.

  11. Jean Bush

    Fire is also a movie on Youtube. Thanks for the tip, Tom.

    I also want to comment you for your constantly evolving nutrition site, always adding new information that we can take as we need.

    The Atkins/Paleo crowd seem locked up in lockstep (bleh) regarding any form of starch. As I’ve tried Atkins and VLC over the years I had failed to lose an electron, however, I’m sure old age (65), menopause and colon surgery a couple of years ago have certainly taken me to task. I’m hoping a resurgence of good gut bacteria and RS will help speed things along.


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