Can I Get That Banana in Pill Form?

YOU THINK YOU EAT vegetables, fruits, and plant matter just to get your daily dose of vitamin C or folate? Perhaps so, but since you can get those from vitamins and supplements, why go to the pain of cooking when you could pop a pill? Goodness, even boxed donuts are fortified with iron and B vitamins! So vegetables, fruits, and plant matter that nobody really wants to eat seem senseless anyhow.


No way.

Interruption: Thank you SO much to Molly Green Magazine for giving me a spot to share the medical value of eating real, whole food. My article here you’re reading today ran to help provide an alternative viewpoint to a ketogenic diet article running in the same issue. I just love that the editor loves to keep things balanced! And for the record, I absolutely see a place for ketogenic diets, but I am very wary of protecting the microbiome too.

In addition to my article, this quarter of Molly Green Magazine features articles on “Aquaponics: A Fishy Business,” “Duck Egg Delights,” “Strawesome: An Alternative to Plastic,” “SEO: The Key to Growing a Business,” and “Help! My Homeschool Teen is Being a Pain”—and other fascinating topics for exceptionally curious minds! Check it out! 

Bacteria and Macaroni and Cheese

You can’t have the easy way out! Nice try. The real reason to eat plant matter is for the trillions of bacteria living within you. It sounds strange, but our intestines are perfectly designed to function in sync with billions of bacteria living and giving inside of us—as long as we feed them properly. Unfortunately, the processed foods that we rely on, such as most breakfast cereals, macaroni and cheese, most store-bought bread, crackers, and pizza (and certainly white sugar), do not make it to the lower part of the intestines where these bacteria live. We are starving out some exceptionally friendly, essential bacteria that we need for our health.

The Case of the Missing Fiber

Those essential bacteria need fiber. “Yeah, yeah, yeah,” you loftily say. “I’ve heard of fiber. I eat lots of oatmeal and salads.”

No. That won’t cut it. It’s not enough. There’s one type of fiber that was naturally included in traditional, healthy cultures which is virtually absent in today’s civilized, processed diet. It’s called resistant starch. Yes, you’re reading correctly; the fiber that you need and probably are not getting is a form of starch. It’s not broken down by the body to be absorbed like other starch is (and thus you don’t get all those calories), so it makes its way to where the bacteria live in your colon.

When the bacteria there eat this resistant starch, they make beneficial, natural substances that bathe the colon cells and reduce colon cancer. However, the bacteria’s by-products also work to fight diabetes, boost the functioning of the brain (perhaps decreasing dementia), soothe the lining of the gastrointestinal tract, and support a healthy metabolism. In fact, this kind of “fiber” is so important food companies are researching ways to add it to your food!

But there’s no need to wait and get it from a box or modified plant. Of course not. Real food always wins! Get the benefits of resistant starch and its power without spending any extra money on your food bill and without your family giving you dirty looks. I mean, they eat rice, potatoes, and bananas, don’t they? Yes! You’re in business. Health is on the way. If you want to get fancy, green peas, lentils, beans, and plantains can be added to the mix.

The Value of Leftovers

Wait. This is too good. You know there has to be a catch. Well, there is a small one. Resistant starch is a bit fussy and might go away as a food ripens or when a food is cooked, at least when it’s cooked and hot the first time around. It’s related to some fascinating physical chemistry. Although Grandma didn’t know the physical chemistry, when she served leftovers or made a potato salad, bean salad, or rice salad, she was serving resistant starch.

For potatoes, resistant starch is available in raw potatoes, but most people don’t like those too well. (Did you know that despite what people say, eating raw potatoes is not toxic? Green potatoes are potentially toxic, and cooking does not inactivate the toxin.) Cooking potatoes changes the resistant starch to available starch, which is nearly all absorbed so your gut bacteria don’t get any food. However, cooling the cooked potato in the refrigerator re-forms resistant starch. Eat the potatoes cold (as in potato salad) or reheating them up at this point still preserves the resistant starch.

When it comes to cooked rice, cooling it down also allows resistant starch to form; fresh, hot, cooked rice has little to no resistant starch. Lentils and beans (especially navy beans) contain some available resistant starch when cooked, but they will also form more as they cool down in the refrigerator, too. Grains, nuts, and seeds contain some resistant starch, but potatoes, green bananas and plantains, and legumes contain more. As for bananas and plantains, resistant starch is found in green fruits. As the fruit yellows, the starch becomes plain starch which feeds you more than your bacteria.

It’s Not about Roughage

For people who are on low-carbohydrate diets, such as for weight loss, diabetes, or to control other health conditions, it is vitally important to eat fiber, including resistant starch.

Unfortunately, when people think of “fiber,” they think of “roughage.” It is so much more than the “rough” matter in the vegetables and fruits we need! The roughage may be the least important part because the bacteria do not create beneficial substances from it! If our gut bacteria are not fed properly, the integrity of the gastrointestinal tract can be compromised, the colon cells will not receive the beneficial substances formed by the bacteria, and the rest of the body’s functions will be affected.

It’s a little confusing how bacteria living in our digestive tracts can affect the neurons and myelin sheaths in our brains—or how they can regulate our blood sugars and body size. But research is proving this to be true, and science is backpedaling as it realizes how far off base we have gotten in our modern eating habits.

A diet rich in whole, real plant matter feeds us not only our vitamins and minerals, but also feeds our gut bacteria important substances like resistant starch. Maybe health doesn’t come in a pill after all. Eat whole. Eat real.


42 thoughts on “Can I Get That Banana in Pill Form?

  1. sal

    Hi Terri,

    Always enjoy your posts. Your are not attached to any one diet or way of eating which gives you the freedom to post changes in your thinking as new science becomes available. My comment/question is this, my daughter has very high thyroid antibodies but still a working Thyroid, for now. When I brought this to the attention of the doctor and that we want to stave off Hashimoto’s so please could we have testing that would help track of what was going on (different doc from the one who did the original testing), her response was ‘sure but I don’t know about ‘staving’ off the disease’…very depressing. So, back to RS, so many auto-immune protcols, Wahl’s diet, SCD, GAPS, etc., all call for reducing starchy veggies and grains. Do these protocols actually hurt the micro-biome? For people with leaky gut/intestinal permeability who may benefit from some form of these diets, what should they do to keep their guts healthy until they can eat potatoes, rice, and beans? Green plantains and bananas?

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Sal,

      Good evening. Let’s see. When I did the autoimmune protocols strictly, I made sure to include plenty of garlic and tons of onions. I do okay with those foods. Yes, too, I did focus a lot on green bananas and plantains. The Curious Coconut has some great green plantain recipes that we really liked. I also did fine with sweet potatoes and used some of those. I know with Wahls’ hardest ketogenic level, the green bananas/plantains/sweet potatoes are hard to incorporate. I didn’t do (didn’t need to do) that one very long. (Early on, I liked to try out these diets for curiosity sake—and also some healing sake. That’s why you may see that I refer to the fact that I tried this and that. I’m not really a diet “hopper,” but for learning and understanding, it really helps to try what you’re learning about. Eeks!)

      Do these protocols actually hurt the microbiome? I explored that a few months ago. I don’t have an answer. The microbiome, fiber cheerleader in my head wants to say YES! But the serious science clinician in my head says PROVE IT. So I tried to read sites of medical doctors who are using these ketogenic diets clinically. Surely they’re going to see problems in their patients and their guts with long term ketogenesis. However, they just don’t seem to be reporting them. (Bias??? Don’t know.) On the other hand, patient forums that I read, well, so many patients say that this or that had shut down on ketogenic diets, and when they added back in safe starches, their health blossomed again. (Placebo effect? Don’t know.) So, I just don’t know. It is a question and research that got interrupted, but I want to come back to it.

      I feel like the microbiome should be viewed maybe more functionally. Even if we aren’t feeding the gut a particular prebiotic food for one type of bacteria, ideally we’re feeding it another food that will feed another group which can make a metabolite to cross-feed another group. I hope to write something up along these lines when I can. So, I don’t have an answer, but I feel like plant matter is important. So, as autoimmune disease allows, I like to add back in foods as the body tolerates, particularly certain starches and fruits. I think if a person is living on a what I call their “safe,” feel-good diet (a diet that keeps their symptoms at bay), then it’s wise to re-introduce a plant-food and see how it goes, watching very closely for any changes, including fatigue.

      Well this is getting long and probably off-topic a little. Sorry.

      I know where the medical doctor is coming from. I would have said the same thing back five years ago. However, now I would definitely want my antibodies monitored periodically, and I’d consider some more alternative ideas/supplements.

      Oh, and lastly, I was just introduced to boiled yuca (not yucca). I believe it’s cassava and on autoimmune. This may be another starch to try as well.

      Please ask for any clarification. I was kind of rambling. And lastly, be safe and use my information for curiosity and consideration sake (not treatment and absolute), but I know that’s understood. 🙂

      Best wishes,


  2. laurie t

    Resistant starch explained in barely a thousand words. Simple language, concisely phrased and without bashing on about the need for fibre, and whatever, in our inadequate diets.
    I’m hooked.

  3. Rhonda Witwer

    Thanks for a great article. You did a wonderful job of explaining resistant starch, which is a fairly complicated subject. I agree with you on food sources of resistant starch with a big exception – the science on resistant starch was mostly done with resistant starch delivered as a supplement because the quantities needed to prove the benefits are pretty high. The lowest amount of resistant starch showing improved insulin sensitivity is 15 grams (in overweight men – it took 30 grams to see the benefit in postmenopausal, insulin resistant women). 1/2 cup of white beans contain 3.7 grams of resistant starch, a green banana has 4.7 grams and 1/2 cup of cooked and cooled potatoes would have between 4 and 5 grams of resistant starch. You would have to eat beans, bananas and potato leftovers every day to get enough resistant starch to reverse prediabetes. Any amount that you get is good, but people cannot eat beans, bananas and potatoes each and every single day. Supplements can help these people get RS more easily if they are trying to reverse prediabetes.

    Please support my petition to ask the FDA to issue a ruling on resistant starch reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. The petition was submitted in March of 2015 and the FDA has delayed its ruling three times already.

    For more info on resistant starch’s science, including 135 published clinicals, please see


    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Rhonda,

      Hello, and thank you so much for your comment!

      I have read the information you linked to when I read one of Vegetable Pharm’s (Tim’s) post. I have not “signed” (Ha! It’s still hard for me to call electronic clicking “signing!”) the petition because I guess I wanted to know the wording of the decision that is wanting to be brought about by this petition. I clicked over to the FDA site (I believe this was from Tim’s post or maybe linked to from one of your links above.) to try to discern this, but it was too lengthy for me to sort through quickly. Can you help me know what specifically is being asked for? What specifically the FDA is deciding on, holding their feet back on?

      I am a whole foods advocate who watches out for food sensitivities, and I want to be sure that what I sign supports the awareness and approval of resistant starch as a beneficial, intrinsic substance in common, sustaining real foods. I understand that sometimes people with disease/certain health conditions/certain health states cannot tolerate particular nutritious, healthy foods, whether temporarily or, more sadly, permanently; so they might need select supplementation (such as resistant starch supplements) either temporarily until they “heal” or permanently if it can’t be reversed.

      Maybe you can help me understand your viewpoint and what your petition is specifically asking for. I’m sorry if I missed it in my skimming of the material. I think resistant starch is important, and it seems you do too! But I want to make sure that how resistant starch is encouraged to be obtained is similar.




      1. Rhonda Witwer

        The claim that is requested in the qualified health claim petition to the FDA is “resistant starch from high amylose corn helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.” It will be accompanied by some type of qualifiers – i.e., … “although there is scientific evidence supporting the claim, the evidence is not conclusive.” or “Some scientific evidence suggests … however, FDA has determined that this evidence is limited and not conclusive.”

        All of the data showing improved insulin sensitivity was from studies using resistant starch from high amylose corn delivered as a supplement or baked into foods (bagels, low glycemic cookies and crackers). The FDA could agree with this claim as submitted, or they could change it to be “resistant starch from natural foods helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes” or even to all sources of resistant starch. We do not know what they are going to rule until they issue the ruling. What this would do would be to allow foods containing resistant starch (with the limitations specified by the FDA) to also include information on packages that it helps to maintain healthy blood sugar levels, improves insulin sensitivity and helps to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

        None of the data showing improved insulin sensitivity uses resistant starch from beans, green bananas, peas, or intact whole grains – those studies simply do not exist. It would be nearly impossible to get enough resistant starch from foods to show improved insulin sensitivity because the quantity required to show the benefit is high. You have to keep in mind that clinical studies need to show really high improvements for the benefits to be statistically significant, and thus accepted. It will take new clinical studies with a huge number of people to show smaller improvements with statistical significance.

        If the FDA issues a statement that resistant starch is connected to type 2 diabetes, it will give greater credibility to natural sources of resistant starch. Omega-3 became better known because it received a qualified health claim with a ton of qualifiers. It is the only ingredient with more science than resistant starch. I want resistant starch to become better recognized for its benefits and an FDA ruling will help. Does this answer your question?

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        It absolutely does! Thank you! I’m very conflicted because I see your point about just getting RS “out there”–with your using the omega-3 idea of how it has been brought to the consciousness of the public now. Yet on the other hand, I fight REALLY hard to keep my kids (and myself) off of processed foods and feel that it’s confusing to tout processed foods as healthy because they have RS, omega-3, or folic acid added. Adding sardine and anchovy oil to peanut butter is not constructive. Adding folic acid to bread often masks deeper nutritional deficits. Adding RS to bagels, well, it’s just not going to help DMII. I want raised awareness, but how am I willing to go about it?

      3. Rhonda Witwer

        I understand your concerns. There is just so much stuff out there that promises benefits without having science to back it up. How are people supposed to know what is beneficial and what is marketed hype? They will not and cannot dig through piles of science to understand how fenugreek or cinnamon or resistant starch may be able to help them. Is it better to deny people the knowledge of what has been scientifically discovered because you believe it should look a certain way (ie., whole foods). Ever since I organized the first functional food scientific conference in 1995 (called The Regulatory Future of Functional Foods), I was arguing that people get to choose whether they consume nutrients in foods, in supplements, in pharmaceuticals, or however else is convenient for them to do so. Consumers will always get to choose.

        I also believe that plant-based diets are better and that resistant starch is one of the reasons why it is better. I believe we are better off knowing that fermentable fibers help change your metabolism because we now know that resistant starch improves insulin sensitivity and that plants naturally contribute fermentable fibers. Anything that we can do to help people understand that the science is credible and the evidence is sound probably helps increase the likelihood that they’ll eat better and make better choices.

      4. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        “Is it better to deny people the knowledge of what has been scientifically discovered because you believe it should look a certain way (ie., whole foods).”

        No, I don’t think so. Perhaps a curious person will take the next step. An incurious mind will stay an incurious mind until something ignites it.

  4. wildcucumber

    And if we make our own mac & cheese from left over pasta, I’m pretty sure there’s some resistant starch in there too, right?

    When I first heard about all this from Tim over at the ‘Pharm, I was thrilled. Batch cooking has always been my go-to method out of sheer laziness. Making beans? Make extra for next time, ditto potatoes and rice. It really is heartening to find out you’ve been feeding your gut bugs right all along even with comfort foods like shepherd’s pie and rice pudding.

    Btw, I clicked over to the magazine and because I’m Canadian I almost had a heart attack over the gun ad. Wow. Culture shock.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Yes. On all of that! I realized belatedly that I should have picked something besides pasta– because there is some resistant starch in that, although with how I used to prepare it, the resistant starch aspect would have been a drop in the bad health ocean, trying to make up for the folic acid, vegetable oil, yellow dye, etc. I, for some reason on this article had a short deadline turn-around. I was typing quickly and just picked mac n cheese thinking of my former days when I made the boxed stuff for my kids (and me). I should have chosen chicken nuggets or something like that.

      We do the same. I make a big batch of rice and potatoes and we eat on them too, like you say. I love mix a little cold rice into my red cabbage/cilantro/cucumber/lemon salads. So good.

      And lastly. Good. You need some culture shock. 🙂 🙂 (I’m sorry. Teasing. I’m chuckling. I grew up on a farm with a gun rights activist but then going to pharmacy school and med school I obviously circulate(e) with the other crowd too. I joke with my husband that the government’s going to come after us here because I’m slamming nutrition, homeschooling my kids, and writing for a “prepper” magazine. 🙂 )

      Thanks for the Ted talk stuff. I’ll get to watch it soon. Have a great weekend!

  5. Debbie

    Hi Terri,

    It’s been awhile since I commented, but I thought of you today because – well, what’s your feeling about water and constipation? I’ve been drinking tons of water for years, assuming I needed it at minimum to stay hydrated for purpose of, well, constipation relief. (My constipation, by the way, has been much improved, and I think Inulin is the trick. But we do know fibers work until they don’t. I’ve been having about 3 heaping teaspoons of the powder.)

    I’ve also been eating plenty – mostly – potatoes and kombucha squash, and fermented cabbage and its juice. Suddenly I’ve got low sodium levels and slightly elevated potassium levels. And my blood pressure is elevated above 120/80 for the first time. I’ve had urgent and frequent urination – big surprise – and UTIs – all I’ve assumed were menopause related. Right now no UTI. So, I’m thinking maybe I’ve been overdoing the water? Drinking about 4 liters – I think – a day. I’m so used to it, and feel I need it – but maybe I’m just plain used to it. Also drink about 3 cups of coffee.

    Do you think constipation is even really affected by drinking a lot of waters?


    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Debbie,

      My feeling on water and constipation. Personally, I never found a connection. I tried upping water. I tried something called the water cure. These didn’t help me. However, I know upping water does help some people. I was just talking to someone today who definitely knows if she drinks plenty of water, especially in the morning, it helps her constipation. So I think water may help some and not others.

      I don’t use inulin supplement now, but I’ve tried it in the past. I liked it too. It didn’t help my slow gut, but it seemed to help my bloating.

      Okay. On to the real issues. Done with small talk.

      I don’t have all the details, nor since I’m simply an internet entity, do I want them all because I still might miss something. But with low sodium, high potassium, urgent and frequent urination with “UTIs,” my red flags are going up. I’d be knocking down some doors at the doctor’s office. (And had to knock down some doors for a similar case in a family member.)

      Thinking of you,


  6. Tim Steele

    Such a shame that any health research has to end in a new drug or supplement. I always laugh at studies on RS other nutrients that conclude: “This offers various opportunities for new pharmaceuticals.”

    Speaking of a new drug, Chris Kresser is talking about a nutraceutical that supposedly helps with constipation. I have no idea if this has merit or not, but it contains three herbs (M. balsamea Willd extract, Quebracho extract, Conker Tree extract):

    “Atrantíl is a new nutraceutical that relieves bloating and abdominal discomfort (with or without constipation or diarrhea) caused by gas in the gut.

    Developed by a gastroenterologist, Atrantíl works differently than probiotics or any other remedy. It attacks problem bacteria and the gas they produce at the source—in the small intestine and not the colon. Atrantíl’s three natural botanicals work together to produce long-term relief for these difficult-to-treat digestive symptoms while promoting a healthy gut.

    Not a probiotic, antibiotic or digestive enzyme
    Gets rid of bloating and abdominal discomfort
    Everyday digestive support
    Supports the immune system
    Gluten-free and non-GMO and vegan
    Gastroenterologist recommended

    These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. “

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      That’s interesting. I’d be interested in learning more about those three ingredients. What do they do? For me, in general, the less supplements I have and the more I can get in the grocery store—the better! (Food rather than supplements. But you know I know there’s a line and a balance.) Clicking over now.

      Clicked back to edit my comment with more information for interested readers with slow gut issues. I’ve cut and pasted little excerpts below from Kresser’s interview. I’m intrigued:

      “We ended up having bloating scores improving almost to 91 percent, constipation improved up to 77 percent, and we didn’t have a whole lot of side effects.”

      “I just want to be able to treat these people who are frustrated coming in, so we did a retrospective study—right sort of people, 26 people that had failed everything else available. I mean, the worst of the worst, they had to have failed Amitiza, Linzess, GlycoLax, probiotics, and I’m a big Xifaxan writer, they had to have failed Xifaxan plus neomycin. So we took people that really were at their wits’ end, and shockingly, I gave you that paper there—or not shockingly I should say, that as we expected—they did equally as well. We had almost an 88 percent quality of life improvement. Bloating improved threefold. We had a threefold improvement … I’m sorry, bloating improved fivefold, pain improved threefold, constipation improved three-fold. So, super-exciting in the sense that we felt like, “Wow! Now we finally have something that we can actually help some of these people!”

      “I really think that we’re heading in the right direction as far as gut health, bringing a lot of gastroenterologists and MDs, speaking with naturopaths, speaking with dieticians because everybody just wants people to get better. That’s the bottom line.”

      ” Like, did the people typically get better right away, or is there a Herxheimer type reaction in a lot of patients where they get a little bit worse initially and have what some colloquially refer to as a “die-off” reaction? What should patients and clinicians expect in terms of using this treatment?”

      “We know that those people that have very, very tough-to-treat disease are really going to take 10 to 20 days to really start feeling better. So, 80 percent of those people are really going to start noticing that. Of those, I would say, and I warn all my patients about it, so I tell them that if they start feeling bad or start experiencing a die-off, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I don’t want you stop. I want you to stick through it. I add a little bit of baby aspirin, which tends to help and they can get through it, and so they get very excited when they start to have that because they kind of feel like something’s happening. In my own practice, I never really saw that very much whenever I would treat people with Xifaxan if they have constipation, so that kind of explains why we’re not having that kind of success with that. So, of these people that do that, what I do is I have them take that course, they get through it and then we’re learning something that most of my patients, they taught me this, they just feel better if they sort of take it as a daily supplement. And the reason is, is that these are just polyphenol molecules. They are the molecules that our body really wants and they almost work like prebiotics then. Then, they go into your colon where the colon breaks them down and makes you feel better. So most of my patients do a course and then they just stay on it, and then as needed, go back up. So that’s really tough to treat.”

      “Now, the extreme to treat, it always makes it a tough day when I show up to clinic and somebody’s already holding my product and I’m like, “Oh no, that’s all I had… And as we’re going through it, very surprisingly, I have had some of these patients come back to me and say, “Hey doc, you know what, I increased it to three three times a day and now I’m better.” So we know that there’s the dosing thing.”

      “It’s really interesting, and so that is an angle why I have all these patients taking it as needed. The mechanism of action, I don’t know. I don’t know if we’re binding zonulin. I don’t know if it’s the hydrogen sink that works that way, but I actually have celiac patients that swear that they can, and I’m not telling anybody that has celiac to go out and try this, but they’re the ones that actually say, “Yeah, there’s something else going on here,” and so that’s where we kind of where we start thinking of what else is going on, what’s the future of this. But for the clinicians in the audience, it’s two separate groups, main groups: the ones that need to take it periodically and then sort of take it as an overall digestive health; the ones that need a good round of treatment, 10 to 20 days, sometimes a little bit longer, and then that little subset that I’m going to … well, basically, people like you and myself are trying to figure out, right? Those people that keep getting second opinions and that’s what I really like, when I get feedback from people and they say, “Hey, I took it with barberry and I had a better response.” “Oh, that’s awesome.” We’re trying to figure those stuff out.”

      My (Terri’s) own thoughts: When I first started all this “silly” jazz just over four years ago, I did try rifaximin/neomycin/erythro combo. I had VERY slight, very short-lasting improvement of significant bloating and significant, lifelong constipation. (Back then, I was hoping for a cure and to go eat some pizza.) I’ve tried many herbals and supplements and probiotics and diets and meditations and vagal nurturing techniques to arrive at a nice, comfortable spot (without pizza 🙂 ). Still no cure but certainly tolerable! This new herbal supplement sounds exciting(always with reservations…). I like the sound that it covers the Archaea bacteria and their methane. I like the sound that it’s more of a treatment then with a support from the product as needed. I don’t feel like I’ve always had SIBO. I feel like I had a slow gut from way back and then SIBO evolved from that (maybe something in my gut predisposes me to have more Archaea and more methane.) But, as this is all vague and uncharted territory really, who knows. But, as I’ve got a boatload of tossed supplements, I’m not overly optimistic. But still worth exploring, I think. However, to me, any supplement is a drug. Just because this is “herbal,” doesn’t make it any less of a drug with both good and bad sides.

      1. Tim Steele

        I’m so glad you took a look. I only sent because Kresser seems to be pretty reserved at what he recommends, and he admits that there are many unknowns and no easy answers.

        I have NO idea whether the research cited is legit or just for sales. The “3 secret herbs” are listed out in the ingredients, so it’s not beyond reach to source the ingredients individually.

        IF this supplement works, the next step is to isolate the compounds responsible, make synthetic chemicals to replicate them, and sell as a new drug. Otherwise, there is no money in it.

      2. Jo tB

        Terri, as you know I suffer from constipation, have for decades. It gets really bad as soon as I start to travel. I got a bit of relief by buying flaxseed oil and taking a tbs or two of that. Lately I’ve been experimenting with morning smoothies. This time I start off with a blood grapefruit add about 100 grams of silken tofu (for the protein) add a scoop of protein powder and some raspberries, or frozen mango chunks, or blueberries. Add in 2 tbs chia seeds and 2 tbs hemp seeds. I’m having a BM every morning, sometimes even a second one. INCREDIBLE for me. For me, I’m getting to the stage that I think my constipation is down to not enough fat in my diet.

        I know people have been led to believe soy products are not good for you, but if the Asians have been eating it for hundreds if not thousands of years, it can’t be as bad as we are led to believe. Maybe, it is not so good since the professional manufacturers have gotten their hands on it. Apparently you can make it at home, so I’m gonna give that a try as well. Another experiment to add to all the others !!! From what I’ve read, homemade tofu is miles better that the one bought in the shops, definitely fresher.

        Who knows what is causing the improvement, but the silken tofu gives the smoothie a nice creamy feel.


      3. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Wow. That’s incredible. Wonder if that will last!? (You know what I mean, I’m sure. As things seem often so fleeting and temporary.) If you do this for a month and it keeps up, you tell me. I’ll try. I’ve done chia. I’ve done hemp. I’ve done rasperries and mangoes and blueberries. Grapefruit, not so much. Tofu not at all. (Not necessarily because I think it’s “bad,” as I think most things are good and bad, but because I never really liked it before.) Never all of it together. 🙂 Unless my slow gut fixes itself, I’ve got plenty of time to read on all this stuff and maybe try it. Why do you think fat when it’s the tofu you added? Wonder about hormonal component with soy helping? Eh, who knows. The good news is it’s working and it’s a great food combo!

  7. Elisa | blissful E

    Hi Terri, Thank you for the research and writing you do. Quick question: at what point in the cooling process does the resistant starch re-form? Is it when the rice and/or potatoes get back to room temp after cooking? When they get to fridge temp after cooking? When they have been in the fridge X number of hours? I love this concept, but I have a big family and a small refrigerator, so I am wondering how to make it work.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Dear Elisa, I always throw my potatoes and rice into the fridge because I knew that took care of it. So, does room temperature cut it? Great question. I’m going to have a lot of stuff here. The short answer is no. I’m going to have different sources here.

      FIRST: Tim Steele, The Potato Hack author and RS revolutionary, a reply to my e-mail to ask him your question:

      Cooled at room temperature overnight, a potato shows almost no retrogradation. Retrogradation starts at about 50 degrees and is maximized around 35 degrees. Refrigerator temperatures are usually 35-40 deg, so just right for retrograding starches.

      Temperatures below freezing, even down to -30, do not increase the retrogradation beyond what occurs at 35 deg.

      And 8 hours at 35 degrees seems to be enough to fully retrograde the starch in a cooked and cooled potato.

      My advice is always “overnight in the fridge.”

      This also holds true for wheat and rice, as shown in this 2016 paper. They describe retrogradation as:
      “Starch retrogradation is a term used to define the process in which gelatinized starch undergoes a disorder-to-order transition.”

      I love that definition!

      Conversely, the “disorder-to-order” is disrupted when heated to something like 475 deg f. So, light cooking is OK with cooked and cooled starches.

      Starch, Potato. “Basic studies on cooking potatoes. II. Effect of potato extract on the interrelation of gelatinization-retrogradation of potato starch.” Cereal Chem 56.4 (1979): 257-261.

      If you read under the section titled retrogradation (this is when the usable, free, cooked starch starts pulling back in to form crystallized resistant starch), you can see they recorded at 0 degrees Celsius and 30 degrees Celsius. I can’t copy and paste the paragraph for you sadly. It says something like “Retrogradation, which occurred in cooling the paste at 30 and 0 C for 1 hour immediately the first heating …the greater retrogradation was found at 0 C than 30 C.” So not much and not real helpful. However this makes it sound like here it did start at 30 degrees C (which is 86 degrees F) and increased at 0 C (32 degrees F).


      I could just read an excerpt. I don’t know if you can get it to pull up or not. Again, I can’t copy and paste. It basically says, in very wonderful, complex terminology, that resistant starch forms more quickly and in more quantity the lower the temperature with their range mentioned being -1 C to 43 C. It goes on to talk about the organization of the crystals, which is very interesting, indicating that starting initially at a colder temperature (to foster nucleation of the crystallization process) and then increasing the storage temperature will promote crystal growth. (So after initial cooling, I think they keep their RS present at room temperature.)

      Well, that’s all I know or don’t know that I think I know. 🙂

      Kindest regards and wishes to you and your family.

      1. Tim Steele

        After reading your reply, I thought it worthy to mention one reason for the seemingly different results in forming RS3 at different temperatures…the testing method.

        The testing methods used to test for RS3 involve heating and cooling of the sample, skewing the results tremendously, Some newer test methods have been developed recently that may be more accurate.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        That would be nice scientifically to have some newer, better tests. Although maybe it will be like weather. We’ll just never be spot on. For me, it’s good enough for now to know that I can make batches of potatoes ahead of time, serve them as leftovers, and realize that they’re giving my kids extra benefit.

        I seemed to think the water content also contributed. So as a potato dries out, does it promote greater retrogradation?

  8. Christine

    Tim & Terri,

    That supplement is interesting …

    “M. balsamea Willd” is peppermint, the top choice of grannies everywhere for gaseous digestive issues.

    “Quebracho” was used traditionally for respiratory troubles from what I’ve seen on a quick search of my usual sources. I find that particularly intriguing because sometimes treatment-resistant digestive issues stem from poor breathing or gulping air while eating. hmmm.

    “Conker Tree” is the horse chestnut. Maude Grieve’s herbal (and old standby text) says “The bark has tonic, narcotic and febrifuge properties and is used in intermittent fevers, given in an infusion of 1 OZ. to the pint, in tablespoonful doses, three or four times daily. As an external application to ulcers, this infusion has also been used with success.The fruits have been employed in the treatment of rheumatism and neuralgia, and also in rectal complaints and for haemorrhoids.”

    From the parts of the above I imagine it is quite astringent, meaning it tones the tissues. Tree medicines are generally high in tannins. Febrifuge means cooling and the narcotic properties would make it pain relieving and calming I suppose.

    Terri, I agree, when ‘herbal supplements’ *are* drugs and should be used with abundant caution. I’ve been railing against them for years.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Thank you for the herbal discourse. I can’t even begin to go there yet! I do like peppermint oil, but I’ve never used the leaf.

      If Quebracho is used for respiratory troubles, maybe it does something to mucous production, which I think is disrupted in the dysbiosis that I think accompanies constipation. As to what you suggest about poor eating habits, I do see that personally that contributes to my bloating–getting up and down with the kids and never sitting nicely to sit and relax and eat my food. Poor mothers everywhere. 🙂

      Huh. Conker Tree. Trying to see how toning would help the gut and any narcotic factor–which tears me apart.

      I’ll look forward to checking out this supplement more as this is the problem that started my path here!

      “See ya'”

      Edit: I take that back. On peppermint: I had the leaf as a child from my grandma who made tea from it. And I have used the loose leaf dried stuff when doing GAPS a little. And my daughter has grown some herbs and I’ve brewed some from that. So I guess it is not true that I’ve never used the leaf. And, as I sit here thinking about it more, I use lots of mint in my cooking and salads. But—goodness!!!! I don’t even really know if what I use/used was peppermint or spearmint or even some other mint. Oh, boy! 🙂

      1. Christine

        See, that’s the thing with our time. No one knows to just try a cup of tried and true peppermint tea any more.
        Not extract or oil, just leaves, fresh or dried, loose or in teabags. Free from the garden or dirt cheap from the grocery store. No side effects, safe enough for children and for long term use.

      2. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        When I first started really “intense” diet change, I started with something called the GAPS diet. It allowed NOTHING processed, not even tea bags. So I had to brew my own from leaves and plants (chamomile, ginger, mint, lavender). I did this. It didn’t help. That’s the thing. Without magnesium citrate (Natural Calm brand), I won’t defecate. Period. Not, I go every three days and it’s hard. Or sometimes I have diarrhea then I’m constipated. No. My gut just won’t move. So I’m keeping watch out and trying safe things in a non-obsessive, easy going manner.

        Edited: Doesn’t mean I’ll try the med mentioned, but I sure will read on it and see where its success or failure goes.

    2. Tim Steele

      Yes, thanks! I was meaning to dig into the three herbs to see what they really were. So, if we wanted to make this blend without the “microcrystalline, cellulose, gelatin, magnesium stearate, silicon dioxide, and titanium,” do you think it would be possible? The ingredients all seem readily available on Amazon.

      I found on another spot on the Atranil website, they say:

      “Atrantíl is a nutraceutical made up of three botanical extracts—a flavonoid (Quebracho extract), saponin/flavonoid (Conker Tree extract) and anti-spasmodic (M. balsamea Willd extract).”

      Funny, I did not even recognize M. balsamea Willd as peppermint, lol…sounds a lot sexier as M. balsamea Willd, lol.

      Quebracho, as you said, is a high tannin, hard wood. ( ) Available for $46/kg on Amazon ( ) And, has other uses, too…lol ( )

      And the conker tree? Again, it completely went right over my head they were talking about horse chestnuts. Here’s Horse Chestnut Tea ( ) Not sure if it’s the same as “Conker Tree Extract.” I suppose they want to be as vague as possible so people like us don’t make our own, haha.

      I’m finding it hard to believe that this company just stumbled across this perfect blend of three fairly common botanicals, but also excited to see if the claims hold up for the “hard-cases” of gut dysbiosois.

      I found Atrantil on Amazon for $39.95 ( ), Kresser is selling it for the exact same price.

      1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

        Tim and Christine!

        On conker trees: That is so cool! I grew up in northern Indiana on a farm and we had buckeye trees in our woods! I used to pick up the nuts and carry the them in my pocket when we chopped wood, and my dad would go tell me to wash my hands when we got back to the house, saying “They’re poisonous.” Tim’s comment got me looking up horse chestnut trees, which I kind of fuzzily remembered the term, and then I see that sometimes horse chestnut is interchanged with buckeye. And even when they’re referred to as different, they are very closely related. I just Googled it a little, and I see the Native Americans would grind the nut and make it into biscuit to treat battlefield victims, like an aspirin or something. Wow! They sell them here in South Dakota in the supermarket one time of the year, and I wondered each year, “Why are they selling poisonous buckeyes here in the grocery store?” I still wonder who buys them and what they do with them.

        The quebracho tree Wikipedia snippet sounds sad, how they cut down the trees severely in one forested region as they found it was great for tanning leather and then exploited the population for cheap cotton production labor after they cleared the trees.

        Kresser’s Atrantil is sold out. 🙂 I’m looking at it good and hard, as a hard slow moving gut case.

      2. Christine

        Tim – Heaven knows what they mean by extract, that’s usually indicates an alcoholic tincture but there are no hard and fast rules about these terms .. and if this ‘supplement’ is in capsule form I’m stumped. But to make it at home, tinctures would be the way to go for sake of convenience. You could easily sub some other bark, like oak for the chestnut and get similar effects ..

        BUT that said, I’d think this formula is mostly peppermint, or at least I would *hope* so. I’m concerned by the tannins in the other two ingredients. While tannins are useful for say, ‘healing and sealing’ tissues, after a time they can prevent uptake of nutrients, strip the mucous lining of the gut, inhibit saliva production and generally wreak havoc.

        I sure wouldn’t recommend the formula for long term use until I saw the ratios.

      3. Tim Steele

        Christine – My first reaction was that maybe this “special blend” is similar to the patented oat bran/inulin/blueberry smoothie, but **Now with added M. balsamea Willd!***

        The spiel about this blend doing crazy things to “Archaea bacteria and their methane” seems a bit inflated, and does not seem to be described in PubMed. My guess is that maybe they have found a good blend, that actually helps bloating and constipation, and are now developing a “proprietary story” to sell it, lol.

        IF Terri tries it, and IF it works, I’d be more interested in deconstructing the blend and trying to find similar natural foods/herbs instead of becoming an Atrantil salesman.

  9. Debbie

    I don’t think my comment posted. Let me try again. Thanks for the – scary – response. No, really. I intend to check out everything. BUN is 8; Creantine is .67. No urinalysis was done as the dip showed no infection. But I’ve always had small amounts of blood in urinalysis. Thanks again.

    1. thehomeschoolingdoctor Post author

      Debbie, No fear. No fear. Just proactiveness. Usually I’m like, whatever. It’s probably all good. But this scenario deserves a check out! Then, we can rest easy and say too much water for you, too much potassium in the cabbage ferments for you, etc. You can email me too to keep me posted. It’s thehomeschoolingdoctoratgmaildotcom. I personally never, ever liked to see trace blood on repeated urinalyses. I know lots of docs accept that, but our clinical experiences shape us, so I was sensitive to that and made sure it either resolved or got checked out by a urologist and or nephrologist. But be careful accepting blood on UA. Most times, nothing, but with unusual labs, don’t ignore. I’ll delete the other message. It came. I tried to email you but it came back. 😦

      1. Debbie

        Thanks again. I’ll email you. Banging down the doors of these MD’s offices is not an option. I argued and finally got through to the PA, and still couldn’t get an appointment with my cardiologist until early November. I’m going to start with him. And deal with my diet. I understand potassium rich food shouldn’t have an effect on blood levels, but I’ve been seriously overdoing. So, thanks again.

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