Resistant Starch and IBS

Resistant starch is a part of our diet that has been receiving attention recently in the research world. Let's take a look at what resistant starch is, what role it may play in our overall health, and whether it is a friend or foe to a person who has Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Bunch of green bananas
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What Is Resistant Starch?

Resistant starch "resists" digestion and absorption in the stomach and small intestine. This means that it arrives in your large intestine in an intact state. In the large intestine, it is thus available for fermentation by gut bacteria.

Health Benefits of Resistant Starch

Since resistant starch is not digested, its consumption does not cause blood sugar or insulin levels to rise. This is different than many of the high-carbohydrate foods that make up a large portion of the standard American diet.

In the large intestine, resistant starch is fermented by gut bacteria. One result of this fermentation is the release of short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs), most notably one called butyrate. SCFAs, and especially butyrate, are thought to play an important role in colon health, cancer prevention, and reduction of inflammation.

Resistant starch is also thought to play a prebiotic role, increasing the number of helpful bacteria in the gut.

Given this, researchers are beginning to find evidence that resistant starch may have benefits for the following conditions:

Foods That Contain Resistant Starch

Foods that contain resistant starch are those that you might typically describe as being "starchy".

Examples of foods that contain resistance starch incude:

  • Bananas (unripe)
  • Beans
  • Lentils
  • Plantains
  • Potatoes (raw)
  • Seeds
  • Whole grains

For some foods, resistant starch content goes up when foods are cooked and then cooled, such as rice and potatoes.

Resistant Starch and FODMAPs

The low-FODMAP diet is based on eating fermentable carbohydrates. In general, FODMAPs are certain kinds of carbohydrates that differ from resistant starch, although both may be present in the same foods.

Resistant starch is fermentable, but its gas output is much smaller than that of the FODMAPs. FODMAP researchers suggest that people on the low-FODMAP diet make it a point to consume resistant starch for its beneficial effects on gut bacteria because the long-term effect of FODMAP restriction on bacterial balance within the gut is not known.

Resistant Starch and IBS

There does not appear to be any direct research on the relationship between resistant starch and IBS.

However, given its potential for enhancing a favorable balance of gut bacteria and reducing inflammation, it would seem that resistant starch holds the promise of being helpful. It may be safest to try to add more resistant starch to your diet slowly to ensure that your body can tolerate it without exacerbating your IBS symptoms.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Rashed AA, Saparuddin F, Rathi DG, Nasir NNM, Lokman EF. Effects of resistant starch interventions on metabolic biomarkers in pre-diabetes and diabetes adults. Front Nutr. 2022 Jan 12;8:793414. doi:10.3389/fnut.2021.793414

  2. So D, Yao CK, Gill PA, Pillai N, Gibson PR, Muir JG. Screening dietary fibres for fermentation characteristics and metabolic profiles using a rapid in vitro approach: implications for irritable bowel syndrome. Br J Nutr. 2021 Jul 28;126(2):208-218. doi:10.1017/S0007114520003943

  3. So D, Yao CK, Gibson PR, Muir JG. Evaluating tolerability of resistant starch 2, alone and in combination with minimally fermented fibre for patients with irritable bowel syndrome: a pilot randomised controlled cross-over trial. J Nutr Sci. 2022 Feb 21;11:e15. doi:10.1017/jns.2022.9

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.