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Why is starch so hard to digest?

by (589)
Updated about 18 hours ago
Created October 14, 2011 at 11:37 PM

Why do starchy foods (winter squash) so hard for me to digest--even if I take a digestice enzyeme?

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32518 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Starch isn't a FODMAP, but the fiber in some vegetables/fruits is.

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1515 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Yes, starch by itself can absolutely be a problem. There's a reason for SCD and GAPS. I'm amazed when people don't recognize this.

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1515 · December 21, 2011 at 10:08 AM

So your point is that problems with starch are rarer and unlikely in this case. Good for the OP, but in general that changes nothing. When you got serious dysbiosis and eat starch having just small amounts of starch malabsorption, you already lost. Even worse when you got SIBO, or both.

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37187 · December 21, 2011 at 4:55 AM

@wjones3044, that confuses me because I'm thriving on daily fermented foods (water kefir and yogurt) yet white potato makes my stomach heave.

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8858 · December 21, 2011 at 3:59 AM

Dean, it's not the starch that's the problem. Might be splitting hairs but rice or pure potato starch will pose few problems for MOST (not all) people. It's the fermentable carbohydrates embedded with that starch that feeds the bacteria. Note that I went through a period where I couldn't tolerate any starches except for very small amounts of well rinsed white rice. In my case it did improve.

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8858 · December 21, 2011 at 3:56 AM

Coconut butter is very FODMAP-ey. I can't tolerate it (though coconut oil is fine).

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37187 · December 20, 2011 at 8:41 PM

Hmmm. I'll check it out!

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9647 · October 24, 2011 at 7:30 PM

OK, gotcha. (Just now reading back to this.)

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32518 · October 15, 2011 at 1:12 PM

And some kombucha will generally help me to digest some of the foods I normally avoid--as long as I eat a small amount.

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32518 · October 15, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Nice link, Paul. Matches what I've learned. And just like you found out with mushrooms (which is usually on low FODMAPS lists), some foods like zucchini & squash can be a problem for some folk. So individual.

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9647 · October 15, 2011 at 4:32 AM

Isn't starch, as generally understood, not a FODMAP? Here's my take on it: http://paleohacks.com/questions/52605/has-anyone-ever-followed-the-fodmaps-protocol/52657#52657

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9647 · October 15, 2011 at 4:30 AM

I have never had any difficulty digesting starch, even after periods of absence.

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1786 · October 15, 2011 at 3:52 AM

what symptoms are you experiencing?

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589 · October 15, 2011 at 2:22 AM

Yes I did cook the squash (and it was organic) --acutally for a very long time in the crockpot. I ate it with some coconut butter --it was delicious BUT about 1 hour later --the BLOAT/GAS MONSTER!! I still feel like I am 12 months pregnant.

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15976 · October 15, 2011 at 1:02 AM

Yah if you haven't eaten starch for a while it'll be difficult. Also, really make sure you cook the hell out of it.

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3521 · October 15, 2011 at 12:22 AM

Have you just introduced it? When I first introduced starch I had trouble digesting it but now I don't. I think there is an adaption period.

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352 · October 15, 2011 at 12:21 AM

High fiber content maybe?

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12847 · October 15, 2011 at 12:19 AM

are they cooked? What does hard to digerst mean to you?

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18635 · October 15, 2011 at 12:00 AM

Lots more info needed...

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10 Answers

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
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32518 · October 15, 2011 at 2:50 AM

Look up FODMAPS. You may be intolerant. I am.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4
9647 · October 15, 2011 at 4:32 AM

Isn't starch, as generally understood, not a FODMAP? Here's my take on it: http://paleohacks.com/questions/52605/has-anyone-ever-followed-the-fodmaps-protocol/52657#52657

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · October 15, 2011 at 1:10 PM

Nice link, Paul. Matches what I've learned. And just like you found out with mushrooms (which is usually on low FODMAPS lists), some foods like zucchini & squash can be a problem for some folk. So individual.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · October 15, 2011 at 1:12 PM

And some kombucha will generally help me to digest some of the foods I normally avoid--as long as I eat a small amount.

Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab
32518 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Starch isn't a FODMAP, but the fiber in some vegetables/fruits is.

47a42b6be94caf700fce9509e38bb6a4
9647 · October 24, 2011 at 7:30 PM

OK, gotcha. (Just now reading back to this.)

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be
8858 · December 21, 2011 at 3:56 AM

Coconut butter is very FODMAP-ey. I can't tolerate it (though coconut oil is fine).

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5242 · December 20, 2011 at 11:26 PM

It could be a FODMAP issue, and it can also be a gut flora issue. If you've gone without starches for sometime your gut flora will adjust. When you add them back you'll notice more gas for a few days until your gut flora readjusts.

So have you had a period of time of no/low starch and you're adding them back now?

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37187 · December 20, 2011 at 8:44 PM

Sorry to disagree with several others but I don't get along with starch either and I sometimes wonder if I missed the starch gene. All squashes are problems for me except yellow summer squash. I'm not wild about sweet potatoes either; the only vegetables I like that are "starchy" are rutabagas and celery root.

White potatoes and "hard" squashes are probably the starches I have the most trouble with.

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1515 · September 07, 2013 at 1:28 AM

Yes, starch by itself can absolutely be a problem. There's a reason for SCD and GAPS. I'm amazed when people don't recognize this.

96bf58d8c6bd492dc5b8ae46203fe247
37187 · December 21, 2011 at 4:55 AM

@wjones3044, that confuses me because I'm thriving on daily fermented foods (water kefir and yogurt) yet white potato makes my stomach heave.

531db50c958cf4d5605ee0c5ae8a57be
8858 · December 21, 2011 at 3:59 AM

Dean, it's not the starch that's the problem. Might be splitting hairs but rice or pure potato starch will pose few problems for MOST (not all) people. It's the fermentable carbohydrates embedded with that starch that feeds the bacteria. Note that I went through a period where I couldn't tolerate any starches except for very small amounts of well rinsed white rice. In my case it did improve.

2870a69b9c0c0a19a919e54cb3a62137
1515 · December 21, 2011 at 10:08 AM

So your point is that problems with starch are rarer and unlikely in this case. Good for the OP, but in general that changes nothing. When you got serious dysbiosis and eat starch having just small amounts of starch malabsorption, you already lost. Even worse when you got SIBO, or both.

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3125 · December 20, 2011 at 4:15 PM

most starch digestion in humans should happen inside the mouth with salivary amylase and chewing. if you bypass this step it will happen with bacteria inside your intestines. i puree my butternut to a nice soup and savor it in my mouth if i fart latter its worth the trouble. you wont stink like a sasquatch dude. just fresh baked cinnamon buns.

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4359 · October 15, 2011 at 4:34 PM

Second FODMAP recommendation. In other words, the starch ain't the problem; it's the fiber that comes with it. Try potatoes.

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722 · October 15, 2011 at 10:21 AM

If you stop eating starchy foods, your body will simply be a little chocked, when you reintroduce them. Vegetarians often have similar issues if they start eating meat. It could be caused by less amylase activity in saliva and altered micro flora in gut and intestine/colon. When fully adapted to eating starchy, they don't normally cause digestive issues, but if you have omitted starch for a while, I think that the bacteria in colon has changed somewhat, and the ones that normally handles resistant starch and excess starch in general, are not up to the task anymore. Re-adaptation normally takes place without to much trouble, just be sensible. Andreas

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1716 · December 20, 2011 at 8:37 PM

I don't think that its starchy foods that are irritating your gut, I think its the winter squash specifically. I can't eat squashes without experiencing debilitating pain, gas and diarreah until it leaves my system fully. But I am totally fine with Kumara, potatoes and yams.

I know a few other people who have this reaction to squashes as well (butternut, pumpkin, other random green one which I don't know the name of)

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10 · October 15, 2011 at 10:12 PM

the lady that runs this site will be able to help you sort out your gut flora to enable you to eat starch more safely in the future

http://www.healingnaturallybybee.com/

Love Joanne

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37187 · December 20, 2011 at 8:41 PM

Hmmm. I'll check it out!

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17103 · April 05, 2014 at 12:55 PM

@Spiritualhealing

It has nothing to do with that. Yes, processing a food makes it easier to digest, but the true answer is two fold: a) what kind of gut flora do you have? and b) How many AMY1 sequences in your genome do you have? Whatever carbs you don't properly break down via amylase, your gut flora will eat. Have the wrong ones and you'll get all farty.

There are plenty of plants that are poisonous for us that contain starches that humans must absolutely process the right way before they're non toxic. For example: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cassava.

That certainly is a case where a "manmade thing" is safe, and a nature made thing is outright poisonous.

Certainly grass seeds contain some level of starch as well as plenty of anti-nutrients. There's nothing you can eat to disable gluten or gliadin. You could sprout it, to get rid of some, you could hull it to get rid of some, you could ferment it to get rid of some, but the end product will still have enough of the anti nutrients to be harmful. So, even with the "manmade thing", the toxins are still there, though in lesser quantities.

Even if you were to eat the whole grains raw, they'd have more antinutrients than the special made powder from its starch, so your statement is incorrect. And if you were to eat grains raw, they'd be even more toxic.

Another example is beans. If you don't properly cook them, or you try to eat them raw, you'll wind up poisoned and in the hospital. They're certainly high in starches and sugars, and in their raw, natural form will hurt or kill you. But through manmade processes, by soaking and cooking, they become far less dangerous to eat. (We paleos avoid beans because they're a very poor source of protein, contain antinutrients, some that survive cooking and soaking, and they're too high in sugars.)

Allergies are caused by proteins not starches. Doesn't matter how much starch there's in a food, as long as the allergens are there in the protein, you'll be allergic to them. Sure you could take a drug such as Benadryl to cut down on the reaction, but that's also a "manmade thing".

Please, spare us the yogi spiritualism mumbo jumbo - science wins every time. They were very smart for their time, and may have been great philosophers - and you could think of them as early proto-scientists, but they could not foresee what junk food there is today and how it affects us. However, through science we can figure out what is good and what is bad for us.

Science is a tool. It can be used for many purposes. Sadly, it's used to increase corporate profits rather than the health of humans in most cases due to the way its funded.

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0 · April 05, 2014 at 9:41 AM

In a very natural form starch is ok and good but the artifical creation of starch( to take out the starch and make a special powder) is really dangerous. if a food is having starch, in a natural form there are some other substances which makes it balance. so starch is ok , it is not allergic normally, there is no problem in natural form,

In a very common statment you can say " all man made things are dangerous, all natural things are healthy"

now you can check how much natural things you have and how much man made things you have.

The true idea was spoke by various yogis in past time and they were using only natural food products.

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