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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Anyone following the "safe starches" debate between Paul Jaminet (an astrophysicist) and Jimmy Moore (registered holistic nutritionist) might be wondering whether a low carbohydrate diet is safe.

The basics:

All starch ultimately degrades to glucose, and all glucose raises blood sugar. A rise in blood sugar causes a rise in the hormone insulin, produced by pancreatic islets. Insulin in released after you have eaten starch and your blood glucose is high. Insulin extracts glucose from the blood and moves it into cells for energy storage.

People on a high starch / sugar diet risk insulin resistance, where the body's cells fail to respond to insulin. Insulin in the body is kept at unnaturally high levels until cells no longer respond to insulin.

If the pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin this leads to type 1 Diabetes; if the body's cells fail to respond to insulin (insulin resistance), this leads to type 2 Diabetes. It is believed that both types of Diabetes might be auto-immune disorders.

Ketosis

We store carbohydrate in our liver, fat cells and muscles as a complex sugar, glycogen. The amount stored is roughly around 2000 calories. If we reduce starches (glucose) in our diet, we can burn up all the glycogen in our liver and muscles. This would take days or weeks depending on how active we are.

Once we use up our reserves of glycogen, the body needs to find another source of energy stored in our body - fats and proteins. A limited glucose supply forces fat and proteins to be metabolised into ketone acids.

A state of ketosis is when most of the body's energy comes from ketones in the blood, as opposed to the normal state - glycolysis, in which glucose provides energy.

Diabetic Ketoacidosis is a serious condition affecting those with diabetes. The body stops producing insulin and the body switches to burning fats instead. If untreated this can lead to diabetic coma or even death. The difference between ketosis and diabetic ketoacidosis is that the level of ketones are dangerously high.

A low carb, ketonic diet would not be suitable for a person with Diabetes.

Blood is normally slightly alkaline, and an overabundance of ketones can lead to acidosis if blood pH falls below 7.35.

Opposing views of low carb:

Advocates for low claim often cite the longevity of the Inuits who live largely on fatty protein, however it is now believed that they supplemented their diet with seaweed and other carbs and that their diet isn't ketogenic at all.

The inuits take in 20% of their calories from carbohydrates from the glycogen found in raw meat and their offal.

(Muscles contain carbohydrate as glycogen, a polymer of glucose. After an animal is slaughtered it loses its glycogen. Liver and shellfish are believed to retain 5 to 20% of carbohydrates).

Starch digestibility differs from person to person

Metabolism disorders can affect people in different ways. Some get diabetes, some IBS - but the underlying cause can be the same.

http://jn.nutrition.org/content/142/5/853.abstract

http://www.nature.com/ng/journal/v39/n10/abs/ng2123.html

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4489572/

Amylase is the salivary enzyme that digests starch. People differ in the number of genes that makes amylase, AMY1. People have highly variable levels of AMY1 genes - anywhere from 2 to 16. More AMY1 genes means more salivary amylase which means starch is broken down and digested more easily.

Low numbers of AMY1 gene

People with more copies of the AMY1 gene tend to have a lower BMI - i.e. They're not overweight. For people with fewer copies of these gene less amylase is produced , then digestion takes longer which results in low satiety causing a feeling of hunger. This can lead to overeating.

Not all people with low numbers of the AMY1 gene overeat or are overweight. Some have IBS, as the starch residue travels through the colon, feeding bacteria and causing gas and other IBS symptoms.

People with larger numbers of the amylase gene digest starches sufficiently and stop eating after a while. Blood glucose rises as a natural consequence of their meal, leading to a corresponding insulin response.

If someone has fewer AMY1 genes, then they are unable to absorb starches fully and keep eating. This means that they eat more and more food, causing a sharper spike in blood sugar, causing higher spikes in insulin. After a while this causes insulin resistance, or pre-Diabetes.

Insulin resistance

A very high diet in starch can lead to too much blood sugar, and a high level of insulin follows. However the glucose isn't taken up correctly into the cells and remains in the blood stream. The pancreas keeps making more and more insulin because of the higher levels of glucose. Over time, the cells block glucose and no longer respond to the presence of insulin. Insulin tries to overcompensate for this by increasing its levels. This causes hyperinsulinemia which downregulates insulin receptors and desentitises pathways. This is insulin resistance.

The debate between Paul Jaminet & Jimmy Moore

http://livinlavidalowcarb.com/blog/more-safe-starches-stuff-and-why-ive-decided-not-to-test-them-on-myself/12068

Both agree that a low starch diet is better than a high starch diet.

Paul Jaminet advocates a "safe starches" diet - starches that lack protein toxins (lectins, phytates, saponins). White rice, as it lacks toxins, is therefore a safe starch. Ketones (from fats & proteins) don't diffuse well into the brain. Many of our lubricating molecules are mainly composed of sugars - mucus, tears & saliva. Mucin - the intestine lining, is mostly sugar.

Very low carb diets can be dangerous and lead to mucus deficiency and gastrointestinal cancers.

A very low carb diet has serious health issues as the liver is forced to aid in manufacturing glucose from fats and proteins. Ammonia is created as proteins are converted to glucose, your body can't produce mucus and the immune system becomes impaired, with a risk of bacterial infection.

He believes that while a lower carb diet is beneficial, we need glucose in our diet and the only people who should limit their intake of glucose are diabetics. He believes that there is a safe threshold for glucose and that as long as we are under that threshold there are no problems. He believes that we need at least 600 calories per day of carbs to avoid glucose deficiency. He believes a moderate spike in glucose is OK unless one has a metabolic problem. He believes low carb diets can impair immunity and cause protozoal overgrowths.

Some pathogens can feed on ketones (Jimmy Moore has no real response to this).

He claims low carb dieters can cure fungal infections with increased starch consumption (how does this happen? Fungi feed on sugar!).

Bacteria can metabolise mucosal sugars (starving bacteria have to eat something). Glucose is not a toxin, it is a nutrient.

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Jimmy Moore takes the opposing view that glucose is toxic, for everyone, and that there is no healthy threshold for glucose tolerance. He believes that glucose isn't necessary in the diet at all, as we can get all the energy we need from fats and proteins. He believes there is no need to eat sugar or starches and that glucose isn't an essential nutrient. He doesn't believe in glucose deficiency. He cites studies that claim that a daily allowance of only 80 grams of glucose is necessary, and that these could be derived from fat and protein. A ketosis diet mimics the effect of starvation, and even 100 grams of carbohydrate will inhibit this process that he sees as healthy.

Jimmy Moore believes that if glucose is only safe for those who can metabolise it correctly then clearly glucose is not safe for anyone as the body must overcompensate and constantly correct for glucose spikes and doing so will eventually lead to insulin resistance.

He discusses Advanced Glycated End products (AGEs) which are sugar glycates that combined with proteins and DNA can causes oxidative stress. AGEs are known to be inflammatory. He believes that glucose feeds cancer. Rice and potatoes are the worst starches as they convert immediately to glucose. Everyone who eats starches has diabetes, to a certain extent.

Interestingly enough, he believes it is necessary to supplement with potassium and magnesium on a ketonic diet (why should this be necessary if glucose isn't essential as he claims?). Why would a healthy, optimum diet need supplements?

He believes a high starch diet is the major cause of disease.

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My take on all this is that I have benefited greatly from a low carb diet, but I have serious misgivings about whether or not it is healthy. The only prebiotics I allow at the moment are low FODMAP bananas, generally one a day. A diet composed fully of low starch, low FODMAP vegetables, raw salads with animal and fish protein cured my IBS symptoms but I don't feel that this is a healing diet at all. It works, in that it doesn't feed my bacterial overgrowth and I suspect I don't digest starch all that well, but instinctively, I don't think that fats and proteins are the best sources for calories. Ultimately we have to rely on what our gut instincts tell us and mine tell me that it's probably best to keep some safe starches in my diet (no grains, legumes or nuts) but sweet potato, banana and low starch vegetables seem to be reasonably tolerated. There are no long term studies on the effects of a very low carb diet that I know of.
 

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There was a study in which two men ate only meat for a year.

My personal experience is that I need starch. My fungal problems got worse after the ketogenic diet. Apparently, fungi can use ketones.

Fat is a good source of energy.
 

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As I stated previosly I also had a lot of new issues when following a VLC diet that were resolved when I added a sufficient amount of carbs in the form of glucose. When asked what people with gut issues should do if they can not tolerate whole food starches Jaminet recommended Dextrose or Brown Rice Syrup as a carb source.

Frankly apart from fruit it seems tough to reach a reliable carb intake without supplemental glucose like dextrose. I have been researching more on food toxins and green beans are apprently high in saponins, carrots in lectins that are not lost during cooking and sweet potates also have significant lectins. Apprently in addition to seed plants roots vegetables are also quite high in lectins though I am uncertain if they are the problematic kind.

Jaminet does not seem concerned with lectins in non grain/legume food but he also seems to underestimate the toxicity of nightshades since potatoes are recommended as a safe starch. Though this could be because his recommendations are geared toward the average person and not someone with IBS. If you have gut issues however the only real safe starch I see is white rice. I have read that pressure cooking deactivates most lectins so the other root vegetables may be more suitable after pressure cooking.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I'm sure that green beans aren't high in saponins. Most veges only have tiny amounts of antinutrients and the worst saponins are in dried beans not fresh young beans. I live on green beans and carrots and whatever they have in the way of antinutrients they make up for in providing a safe, low FODMAP source of insoluble fibre. I tend to agree that white rice is probably the safest grain in terms of toxins. I've found too that all foods that aren't insoluble fibre are constipating - and that includes soluble fibre. I really think green beans, mashed sweet potato and carrots would be better than eating sugar or flour. We all suffer from constipation to some extent and these veges will stimulate your colon which dextrose or any other pure starch won't do. I don't think lectins are destroyed by cooking but I've heard conflicting reports. But root veges would have to be the safest starches.

Jaumeb, some people recommend fibre to cure Candida as it seems impossible to eradicate and the only way to do this is encourage the good bacteria. I think the safest prebiotic would be a banana, which is one of the few low FODMAP ones. But generally I think high sugar and high starch make IBS worse for everyone whatever form of overgrowth you have.
 

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Tummyrumbles, I got the Saponin content from the table here:

http://thepaleodiet.com/alfalfa-sprouts-autoimmune-disease/

Some lectins are destroyed and some aren't. There is a significant reduction in the lectin content of dried beans after cooking which is why people don't get extremely sick from eating cooked beans but do when eating them raw. Soaking removes a significant portion even if cooking does not.

The information on carrots I found here:

http://www.dadamo.com/txt/index.pl?3011

Selfhacked also seems to have an issue with them, orange sweet potato and Banana.

http://selfhacked.com/2014/05/27/assigning-inflammation-scores-foods/

At the end of the day just because the foods have lectins does not mean they are the detrimental kind but I am still wary. Most of the studies done on lectins have been on grains/beans not root vegetables.

I am concerned about the saponin content of green beans since it is listed as quite high and saponin does not appear to decrease during cooking. Anecdotally however people are able to eat green beans raw which you certainly can not say for normal beans.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hello Denis,

I think we have to relax more about food. All foods have some level of toxins but that chart showing the high levels of saponins for green beans is the only one I could find. Saponins have health aspects too. The problem is we have such a restricted diet we have to find something to eat. We don't want to over-think things too much. If you try my diet for a day and it makes your symptoms worse, then you've learned something. I really don't think this will happen though. All of us need to have more insoluble fibre so that food residue in the colon is fully evacuated the next day. If we don't do this the residue will help to feed bacteria making IBS worse. I think we all have genetic susceptibilities in the colon that normal people don't have but for us the really aggravating factor is incomplete evacuation. I have found that as horrible as a high intake of animal protein is, it does at least travel through the colon reasonably well, unlike starch and it could simply be that it isn't metabolised by bacteria so isn't producing a lot of gas. You do need to keep up your water though or you get "traditional constipation" where you can feel the BM in your lower colon but it won't empty. If you get this you just have to wait it out but it will come, unlike the incomplete evacuation from starch where you could be sitting there for hours because the BMs are all higher up in the colon and probably separated by pockets of gas.

I'm going through all this because we don't want to get sidetracked in things that just aren't all that important. OK so IBS-safe vegetables have traces of antinutrients. These are traces. The only veges that will hurt you are high FODMAPs and nightshades. Try to eat mainly raw salads for lunch and keep the skin on the cucumber if you tolerate fibre OK. Green leafy veges like bok choi and lettuce are good. These are all high carb (because they're plants), just low starch. Insoluble fibre has zero calories so put butter on your veges. You could try adding hard cheese if you're struggling with hunger. Jaumeb, you could try feta cheese as I've heard it's lower in starch and OK on a Candida diet. I'm going to try some but it is very high in salt.
 

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I also could not find much about the saponin content of green beans. They seem to be tolerated pretty well by people with IBS, I just want to make sure I am not doing anything to sabotage my healing. My understanding is that saponins can cause or exacerbate leaky gut. Still, we are already avoiding so many saponins with our diet that green beans occassionally may be fine.

You are right that we need to find something we can eat and preferably of a decent variety. I have been trying to build up a list of safe vegetables so I am getting a good variety of nutrients and fiber. I also read that damage from lectins was minimized significantly just by having a varied diet of vegetables (likely because of less exposure and different lectins).

I researched further into the lectin issue of carrots and sweet potato, it seems to be a non-issue. A study measured the agglutinating potential of their lectins and they do not seem to react to human RBC, but apparently do to rabbits. The best idea for lectins seems to be avoiding grains, beans, nuts/seeds and nightshades as well as peeling and deseeding vegetables since that is where the lectins are concentrated. I did not see other root vegetables in the study but it is possible that apart from nightshades like potatoes other starchy root vegetable lectins do not cause harm to humans.

The good thing about FODMAPS is that they are dose dependant. Most of the vegetables that contain them (apart from outliers like onion, garlic and cauliflower) are fine to eat at reasonable doses fo 1/2 cup to 1 cup.

A well tolerated starch I have been reading about is arrowroot. I am staying away from starch in general right now but if I decide to try something it will be arrowroot. Apprently not only is it well tolerated by IBS individuals it has actually helped diarhea, constipation and abdominal pain in some studies, from my reading.
 

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Denis, have you reduced your symptoms through your diet? I'm interested in what you're eating if you don't mind sharing this. I think ultimately we just have to experiment and see. I think the very low starch diet is about the best starting place as insoluble fibre, animal protein & fats don't feed bacteria, generally. So try an extreme low starch diet for no more than a day or so, just to verify yourself that it works (although I think you said it didn't work for you?). The level of insoluble fibre is really important and all veges have both so there will be some gas but what we want is evidence that low starch works and reduces IBS symptoms so we know we're on the right path, and this is definitely true for me.

We need to consider the possibility that we might not be able to digest starch all that well, and there's not many studies in this area and how it relates to IBS. None of us would know for sure unless we undertook really expensive genetic testing. Refined starch just doesn't move through well for me at all, but if you find your symptoms are reduced more by sugar / flour than by things like sweet potato then keep going with this. What we want is some starch in our diet, and we have to figure out our safest starch, and it might not be someone else's view of safe starch. Paul Jaminet seems to tolerate potatoes very well, but white potato is possibly the most toxic vegetable possible. Why eat white potato if sweet potato has much the same nutrients and is higher in insoluble fibre? It could be that he has more starch digesting enzymes than say you or I. We just don't know.

Everyone has an agenda. I advocate insoluble fibre a lot because it works very well for me and I have plenty of enzymes that digest this. Paul Jaminet advocates potato because he digests it OK so it works for him. We all have to tendency to think what's good for us has to be good for everyone else. But all of us are different in our genes, enzymes, sensitivity to lectins etc. Sometimes a harmful diet can take a while to reveal itself, i.e. a ketonic diet so not all symptoms are immediate which is another trap.
 

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Tummyrumbles, I have indeed reduced symtptoms through my diet though many remain. My diet is similar to yours in that I eat mainly meats/fats for calories and add low FODMAP vegetables for additional nutrients. I try to stay below 20 to 25 fermentation potential accorfing to Fast Tract. Right now I eat Beef, Lamb, Bison, Chicken (without skin as I seem to have some histamine issues), Salmon (also without skin) for protein. For fats I add Beef Tallow (Fatworks and Epic both have some available), Extra Virgin Olive Oil and I plan to try avocado oil and high oleic sunflower oil to see how I do. Finally for vegetables I have Zucchini (Peeled and deseeded), Romaine Lettuce, Carrots, Brocilli (After extended boiling) and Kale. I am planning on try cucumber (peeled and deseeded due to lectins) today as well as possibly cabbage, yellow squash, other types of lettuce and ppssibly winter squash later. For carbs I eat Lemon/Lime juice with dextrose and a teaspoon of sugar. My biggest reduction in symptoms was making sure I eat carbs away from protein and lowering my sugar intake once I started taling dextrose. If I eat too much sugar I start to get worsening symptoms.

I have tried nabisco rice thins since they are made from white rice flour and while they don't cause bad symptoms I still gwt somewhat worse if I eat too many or for too many fays in a row. Seeet potato seems like a sloid option but keep in mind it is high FODMAP at quantities higher then 1/2 to 2/3 of a potato.

My biggest problems seem to have been caused by the overeating of gluten free grains, cheese and ice cream, and sugar. I have been gluten free for a while but I kept eating dairy and had a significant sugar intake which I think caused gut problems as well as bacteria overgrowth.

I agree that the ketogenic diet is dangerous for some. I had a lot of additional symptoms when I was on it. Being in keto is a significant stressor on the body so while it can have benefits your body needs to be able to handle the stress. People with IBS likely already significant stress so I think it is better to just go low carb with intake above 50 grams.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Well, good luck with your diet Denis. It is very similar to mine. I'll have to branch out and try more FODMAPs. I seem to tolerate mushrooms OK. I've also gone back to having porridge oats for breakfast as I hated eating bacon and eggs for breakfast and I have enough protein as it is. You really taste the sugar in things like carrot and lettuce when you stop eating refined sugar, so I think a low starch diet is really very healthy as long as you keep some starches. A full ketonic diet really shouldn't be necessary. It's all about reducing the symptoms and this is do-able without going overboard.
 

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Thanks Tummyrumbles, you too. If you tolerate it coconut shreds seem to be a good source of insoluble fiber and are fairly low FODMAP. I tried the toasted coconut shreds from Dang yesterday and almost couldn't stop eating them. They also offer a good replacement for chips/sweets.

I forgot to mention that I also drink a cup of bone broth every morning which I do think has been helpful.

I have been forced to cook a LOT due to the restrictions and one of the best techniques I have found is freezing food. I cook the proteins in large batches then seperate them into small servings in parchment paper and ziploc bags. I then pop them in the freezer and take out what I need for each meal to reheat. I am also now trying the same thing for vegetables that need to be precooked. This has worked really well so far and helps reduce the stress of having to prepare all your meals.
 
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