The Power of Resistant Starch for Fatty Liver and Gut Health
Article

The Power of Resistant Starch for Fatty Liver and Gut Health

Published on Monday, June 24, 2024
by
Andy De Santis

Low-FODMAP
IBS
Nutrition

A Promising New Low FODMAP Supplement For NAFLD

Resistant starch is a family of four distinct types of prebiotic dietary fiber found in a relatively small number of foods.

These include:

  • Oats & Barley
  • Cooked & cooled rice, pasta, or potato [think leftovers]
  • Legumes [lentils, chickpeas, all beans]
  • Very green bananas 

Resistant starch is also increasingly available in supplemental form, and it has been studied for potential benefits across a wide range of metabolic conditions, including reducing insulin resistance and fasting blood sugar levels.

With a unique capacity to influence the human gut microbiome and also fit the Low FODMAP classification, resistant starch supplements have become a topic of growing interest in the world of health and wellness.

Only recently, the scientifically acclaimed Cell journal published a randomized controlled trial investigating the influence of resistant starch on individuals with fatty liver disease.

Let’s take a closer look at what they found and why it matters.

Resistant Starch – A Primer 

Statistically speaking, many people under-consume dietary fiber, and it’s fair to say that increased exposure to this important nutrient will almost inevitably improve metabolic health in most cases.

But resistant starch isn’t any old dietary fiber – it has a demonstrated potential to boost the levels of healthy bacteria in our gut microbiome.

Given the gut-liver connection and the important role of rebalancing the microbiome in fighting fatty liver disease, findings like these must not be underestimated. 

The downstream effects of resistant starch’s supporting role in the gut microbiome mean that it also likely confers pro-immune and anti-inflammatory benefits.

There’s more, though.

Many fiber supplements with prebiotic potential [such as inulin] are high FODMAP, whereas resistant starch supplements are not.

This is because resistant starch is fermented very slowly compared to other prebiotic compounds.

This is a very relevant finding, given the overlap between IBS and fatty liver disease.

Let’s Review The 2023 Cell Study

Here are the important details:

Dose & Duration

Participants were provided 40 grams of resistant starch daily or a starchy placebo at the same calorie level. 

Resistant starch supplements are generally available as flavorless and colorless powders that can be added to room-temperature or slightly higher-temperature dishes like oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and so on.

Outcomes

A decrease in liver fat content by 5.89% independent of weight loss.

A reduction in levels of a potentially harmful bacteria, Bacteroides stercoris.

My Thoughts

The findings of this study are extremely intriguing for fatty liver-focused practitioners like myself. 

That being said, I don’t consider resistant starch an essential supplement for fatty liver disease in those who are very confident in the quality & balance of their diet.

Not everyone is, though, understandably so.

If you fall into that category and feel you’ve got more room in your routine for fiber, particularly a fiber supplement, resistant starch is an exceptional choice.

As are the foods that contain it.

Speaking of foods, let’s close today’s content by identifying a few high polyphenol and Low FODMAP options.

Bonus - High Polyphenol, Low FODMAP

Given that polyphenols are uniquely beneficial to liver health and the gut microbiome and that Low FODMAP is a theme in today’s post, let’s pick a few foods that check both boxes.

Those include:

  • Flaxseeds
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Olives
  • Spinach
  • Green Tea
  • Pecans
  • Raspberries/Strawberries
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Spinach

I consider all of the above, for similar and different reasons, fatty liver superfoods – do you eat them?


  1. Maier, T. V., Lucio, M., Lee, L. H., VerBerkmoes, N. C., Brislawn, C. J., Bernhardt, J., Lamendella, R., McDermott, J. E., Bergeron, N., Heinzmann, S. S., Morton, J. T., González, A., Ackermann, G., Knight, R., Riedel, K., Krauss, R. M., & Schmitt-Kopplin, P. (2017). Impact of dietary resistant starch on the human gut microbiome, metaproteome, and metabolome. mBio, 8. https://doi.org/10.1128/mbio.01343-17 
  2. Ni, Y., Qian, L., Siliceo, S. L., Long, X., Nychas, E., Liu, Y., Ismaiah, M. J., Leung, H., Zhang, L., Gao, Q., Wu, Q., Zhang, Y., Jia, X., Liu, S., Yuan, R., Zhou, L., Wang, X., Li, Q., Zhao, Y., El-Nezami, H., … Jia, W. (2023). Resistant starch decreases intrahepatic triglycerides in patients with NAFLD via gut microbiome alterations. Cell metabolism, 35(9), 1530–1547.e8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2023.08.002 
  3. Wang, Y., Chen, J., Song, Y. H., Zhao, R., Xia, L., Chen, Y., Cui, Y. P., Rao, Z. Y., Zhou, Y., Zhuang, W., & Wu, X. T. (2019). Effects of the resistant starch on glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, and lipid parameters in overweight or obese adults: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrition & diabetes, 9(1), 19. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41387-019-0086-9 
  4. Zhu, W., Zhou, Y., Tsao, R., Dong, H., & Zhang, H. (2022). Amelioratory Effect of Resistant Starch on Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease via the Gut-Liver Axis. Frontiers in nutrition, 9, 861854. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnut.2022.861854 

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