Starchy Foods and Its Effect on the Digestive System

Starchy Foods and Its Effect on the Digestive System

Authored by DesiMD Doctor on 26 Feb 2016 - 12:18

Starchy Foods

Starch is a complex carbohydrate found chiefly in fruits, seeds, tubers, corn, potatoes and rice. Starch compounds are big and complex. Your body uses starch to supply glucose to all cells.

Digestion of Starch

When you chew any food that is high in starch, cells in your mouth automatically excrete saliva, an enzyme-containing digestive juice. Saliva helps to pull away all of those sugars, so you swallow simpler carbohydrate sugar molecules, instead of those complex starch compounds. When these simple sugars reach your stomach, specialized cells release more digestive substances that combine with all broken-down food particles. Everything gets combined together into chyme; a semi-liquid mass of partially digested substance, which gets pushed to your small intestine to promote digestion.

Enzyme Action

In the process of chewing and in-salivating, ptyalin (an amylase secreted in saliva) enzymes convert starch into sugar. Secretions from saliva accompany food and salivary starch digestion continues in the stomach. This takes more time for food to digest if it is taken in the right way. It is best to consume good amount of liquids because it softens food artificially and makes you eat more food than, when it is dry. Consuming liquids during meals, stops complete in-salivation and mastication of food.

If ptyalin is suppressed or lost, or if starch digestion is disrupted, the starch which is partly digested enters the duodenum (the part of small intestine). The starch is further digested in the duodenum and the starch that escapes from digestion is subsequently acted upon by the intestinal and pancreatic enzymes. However, disrupted gastric digestion is also possible.

Ptyalin needs neutral or alkaline medium. If acids in fruits are ingested along with carbohydrates, digestion of starch is prevented and this leads to fermentation of food.  A table spoon of vinegar that contains acetic acid suspends digestion in saliva. If the food is not decomposed with the digestive enzymes, bacterial decomposition occurs and shoots fermentation.

The Effect of Eating Starchy Foods

Starchy foods are an essential source of calories in our diet. Even though it is often indicated that starchy foods are fattening, each gram of carbohydrate offers less than half as many calories as a gram of fat. What matters here is where you get your starch from.

Check out some starchy foods below:

  • Vegetables like green peas, corn, potatoes, pumpkins, avocados, winter squash and yams are all high in starch.
  • Fruits: Mangoes, grapes, peaches, apples, berries, pineapple and melons are just some of the fruits that have starch. Dates, prunes and raisins contain a bit of starch.
  • Beans and Lentils: Although beans and lentils are high in protein, they are full of starch. Processed beans like baked, canned and refried beans are very starchy. Also brown, yellow, green or other variety of lentils, provide additional sources of starch.
  • Breads: All types of bread products have too much starch. Muffins, pastries, pancakes, biscuits, pitas, wheat, etc also contain starch.
  • Cereals: Most of the breakfast foods like corn flakes, bran flakes, wheat, puffs and oat-based cereals also are high in starch.
  • Refined Flour Foods: Any food prepared with flour like cake, cookies and brownies, contains starch. You will also get starch from rice cakes, crackers and chips. 




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