What is resistant starch, you ask?
Don’t worry if you don’t know. While it’s become a hot topic in some nutritional circles, most are still unfamiliar with it.
As a brief primer, starch is simply a long chain of glucose molecules, a “complex” carbohydrate found in things like wheat, potatoes, and rice.
Humans, along with the rest of the animal kingdom, love the stuff. A little too much. Both the blessing and curse of starch is that it can be rapidly broken down into its component sugars, resulting in a rapid rise in blood sugar and a boost of energy.
Energy dense food is great if you’re refueling after a long day of gathering. But sitting on the sofa with a bag of chips?
Likewise, for the migraineur trying to avoid significant fluctuations in blood sugar, starch can also pose a problem.
Resistant starch, as its name would imply, is starch that is resistant – at least in part – to breakdown into its component sugars. It’s found in things like green bananas, raw potatoes, and cooled rice.
And in tiger nuts.
Tiger Nuts? :0
Besides its favorable impact on blood sugar, perhaps the most noteworthy and widely touted benefit of resistant starch is that it serves as food for the “good” bacteria in our gut. The starch that’s not broken down in the stomach and small intestine makes its way to the beneficial bugs further down in the digestive tract, helping them grow and thrive.
It’s also referred to as “prebiotic fiber”, aka food for your gut bacteria.
Despite their name, tiger nuts aren’t nuts at all, but tiny little root vegetables, ones that appear to have been a favorite amongst our hunting and gathering ancestors (and for our members who just took part in our Eating on the Wild Side book club, one that has not had its healthfulness bred out of it through farming).
I’ve been interested in experimenting with resistant starch myself, and was intrigued by the tiger nut.
So back to that question: could I, a migraineur, safely add them as a “probiotic” supplement? Only one way to find out…
The Tiger Nut Experiment
Step 1: Check blood sugar.
Step 2: Eat a serving of tiger nuts (I chose a tablespoon, roughly 12 nuts, which is about the most I would typically eat in one go).
Step 3: Check blood sugar about 45 minutes afterwards (the typical time when blood sugar peaks after eating).
As you can see, my blood sugar response after eating my serving of tiger nuts was minuscule, within the margin of error of measurement, in fact.
What do they taste like? It’s a bit hard to describe, because they don’t quite taste like anything else.
The texture is particularly unusual: firm and chewy, but strangely pleasing. And with just a mild touch of sweetness.
Because of their chewiness, they’re not well suited for stuffing handfuls into your mouth, and so easy to consume in moderation (also a plus since they’re not exactly cheap).
A Worthwhile Supplement?
Though we know that the composition of our gut microbiome has major effects on our health, and that modern living and eating has altered it in unhealthy ways, we’re still in the infancy of understanding what exactly to do about it.
It’s also likely that microbiome health has special significance for the migraineur, as maintaining the integrity of the gut lining is critical in a disorder characterized by heightened sensitivity to the environment (since the gut is the wall across which the world outside gets inside of us).
In my opinion, resistant starch has one of the most favorable risk-to-potential-impact ratios of the available interventions for promoting a healthy gut flora.
Welcome, tiger nuts, to our pantry.
(Afflinks used above)