6. Why Starches Are Less Than Ideal Sources Of Carbohydrates
There are many reasons why starches are less than ideal as sources of carbohydrates for humans.
6.1 Many Digestive Steps Use More Body Energy
A larger amount of the body’s limited supply of nerve energy is used up when starches are used for fuel than when fruits are used because starches are, as you know, polysaccharides and must be broken down (digested) into monosaccharides before the body can use them. Fruits contain a preponderance of monosaccharides, which, as you also know, need no digestion at all. Therefore, fruit eating leaves more of the body’s energies available for other activities. This explains, in part, why people feel so ”light” when they eat fruits and so heavy when they eat beans or bread.
6.2 There Is a Greater Tendency to Overeat on Starches
Because starches usually lack the amount of water content found in fresh fruits, it is much easier, to overeat on them than on fruits. It takes larger amounts of starch foods to get the same feeling of fullness that you get from a fruit meal. When starches are consumed, it is best to use only one kind of starch at a meal, as this helps control the tendency to overeat on starches.
6.3 Many Digestive Steps Take Longer and Fermentation Can More Readily Occur
For good digestion (an important prerequisite for good nutrition), not only do foods need to be compatibly combined with one another, but they also need to be digested fairly quickly. As stated earlier, food that remains in the stomach too long will be decomposed by the bacteria that reside there.
The only starch-splitting enzyme secreted in the saliva, as previously stated, is ptyalin, also known as salivary amylase. The available amount of this enzyme is somewhat limited, and it is unlikely that large amounts of starch foods can be completely digested by salivary amylase, even if no proteins or acid foods are eaten with or too soon before or after the starches. Therefore, complete digestion of the starches eaten, especially if more than a very small amount is eaten or if they are eaten with protein or acid foods, is dependent upon the starch-splitting enzymes in the intestine—pancreatic amylase. However, the likelihood of indigested starches reaching the intestine without first fermenting in the stomach because of the action of bacteria there is rather small. Conditions of emotional or mental stress or anxiety, lack of sleep or rest, eating too fast or a digestive system weakened by years of past abuse are some of the reasons why fermentation may occur before undigested starches can reach the small intestine for digestion by the pancreatic amylase.
Fruits, on the other hand, if eaten with other fruits of like character, pass through the stomach very quickly into the intestine, where their monosaccharide content is rapidly and efficiently absorbed. Unless fruits are eaten with slower-digesting foods such as fat/protein foods (such as nuts, seeds or avocadoes) or starches, they are not likely to ferment in the stomach. Their need for almost no digestion makes it possible for the body to pass them through the digestive tract quickly, before fermentation by bacteria can occur.
6.4 Starches Are Poorly Digested Raw But Cooked Starches Are Unwholesome
Only very small amounts of raw starches can be digested because of the nature of the starch granule. Even the most thorough mastication of raw starches breaks open only a small fraction of the starch-containing globules, as each of these globules has a thin but strong protective cellulose covering which acts as a protective membrane for the plant’s storage product (starch).
Neither salivary amylase (ptyalin) nor pancreatic amylase can commence digestion of the starch until it is released from its globule. These starch-containing globules are, therefore, not digested at all and must be eliminated from the body as so much debris. Undigested materials such as these are toxic in the body and pose an eliminative burden without providing energy or other value.
Cooking makes starches more digestible. As stated earlier, starches are not soluble in cold water and need to be heated to break down the cellulose coverings that surround starches. Heat also converts some of the starches to dextrins, and the more and longer heat is applied to the food, the greater will be the amount of starch that is converted to dextrins by this method. Undextrinized starches which have been freed by heat from their protective globules will be hydrolyzed (digested) by the salivary and pancreatic amylases. The resulting dextrins are large polysaccharide molecules that yield the disaccharide maltose upon hydrolysis. Maltose is, in turn, hydrolyzed into molecules of the monosaccharide, glucose.
Despite the greater digestibility of cooked starches, cooking is a very unwholesome process for many reasons, some of which were mentioned in previous lessons and more of which will be elaborated on in a future lesson dedicated to this subject. Basically, cooking destroys vitamins, partially or completely, depending on which vitamins are involved and how long and hot the cooking is; it converts minerals from their usable organic state back to their unusable (and therefore harmful) inorganic state; and it deranges (or deaminizes) the proteins present. (Starch foods do contain small amounts of protein, as protein is a component of all living matter.)
To summarize, while cooking might improve the digestibility of the starches in starch foods, it certainly does not improve the usability of the other nutrients and components of the food. On the contrary, it renders the minerals and proteins present at least partially toxic and unusable. Therefore, we recommend that neither raw starches nor cooked starches be included as part of an optimum diet.
In the case of legumes such as lentils and beans, however, there is one alternative: sprouting. The starches in legumes are converted in the sprouting process at least partially to dextrins, which can be hydrolyzed by body amylases into the appropriate sugars. Grains which have not been processed (whole grains, in other words) can also be sprouted, but usually with less success because they often sour before their enzymes can complete the conversion of most of the starches to sugars.
The only starch foods we recommend are sprouted lentils, sprouted mung beans or sprouted azuke beans. A later lesson on food preparation will discuss sprouting in more depth.
6.5 Starches Are Usually Unpalatable Raw
Because we are physiologically fruit-eaters, most of us are not especially fond of nonsweet foods, at least not compared with how much we love sweet foods. We are not physiological starch eaters, and this is evidenced by our disinterest in foods such as raw potatoes, grains, beans, etc. Most starches just don’t taste that good in their raw state.
Carrots, sweet potatoes and yams are notable exceptions, however, because these tubers, in addition to containing starches, also contain enough sugars to give them a sweet flavor. The main problem with eating these vegetables is that their sugars are likely to ferment in the stomach while they are held up there with the starches, which digest more, slowly than do the sugars. As stated earlier, sugars are normally passed swiftly through the stomach to the intestine for immediate absorption, but if they get held up in the stomach they ferment because of bacterial action. Carrots, sweet potatoes and yams may be used juiced, as long as they are eaten alone or about a half hour before a meal of compatible foods.
Some of us enjoy certain mildly starchy raw vegetables such as cauliflower and carrots. Eaten in moderate amounts, these vegetables are fine. Grated carrots and/or cauliflower flowerettes are nice additions to vegetable salads, but these salads should not contain nuts, seeds or tomatoes, which are poor combinations with even mild starches.
Remember: Although some starches can be sprouted or juiced, and others may be fine in moderation, especially if they’re only mildly starchy, starches are, as a rule, unpalatable and indigestible raw and unwholesome cooked. As stated earlier, humans are not biologically adapted to starch eating.
6.6 Some Starch Foods Also Contain a Significant Amount of Protein
A future lesson on food combining will discuss in detail why it is unhealthful to consume starch foods and protein foods in the same meal. Basically, the two kinds of foods require very different digestive environments and enzymes, starch requiring ptyalin and an alkaline digestive environment, and protein requiring the enzyme pepsin and an acid digestive environment. Both foods cannot be digested simultaneously, and if eaten together or close to the same time, protein digestion will occur, at least partially, leaving the starches and sugars to ferment because of bacterial action in the stomach. Fermentative byproducts interfere with the protein digestion in progress, and protein digestion will most likely be incomplete. Undigested protein will putrefy (rot).
Most foods contain either a predominance of one factor or the other. For example, tubers and grains contain predominately starches, whereas nuts and seeds can be classified as protein/fat foods. But there are some foods which contain a lot of protein along with a lot of starch. Examples of some of these foods are beans of all types, peas and peanuts. Unless these foods are sprouted, which converts their starches to more easily digestible sugars, they are to a large extent indigestible. This is why beans are often referred to as the “musical fruit.” They ferment and putrefy in the stomach and intestine, and this is an unwholesome occurrence because fermentation and putrefaction byproducts are toxins which must be eliminated as quickly as possible so that the body doesn’t suffer great harm from them. Much body energy is used up in toxin elimination, energy that could be much more wisely used for other activities. Also, not all toxins are eliminated before some harm has resulted.
6.7 Wheat Poses Special Problems
Wheat is the most popular of the grains used in this country, especially commercially. But this popularity is undeserved because wheat poses special digestive problems that make it unwholesome. Basically, besides the digestive problems that wheat shares with the other starchy foods, the special problem with wheat is that it contains gluten, a protein substance that humans do not have the enzyme to digest. As you know, undigested substances are toxic in the human body and must be eliminated at a great expense of vital energy.
We might add at this point that beets are a mildly starchy root food that have a special problem: They contain too much oxalic acid which the body neutralizes by binding calcium. We recommend that you not use beets as an item of diet.
6.8 Grains and Legumes Are Acid-Forming
A later lesson will discuss in depth which foods are acid-forming and which are alkaline-forming and why we should have a predominance of alkaline-forming foods in our diet. Suffice it to say here that most grains and legumes are acid-forming and, for this reason, should be eaten in extreme moderation, if at all.
Grains contain phytic acid, a substance which binds calcium and iron, both in the grains themselves and the body stores of these minerals. This fact only complicates and aggravates the problem of calcium being taken from the bones and teeth by the body in the metabolism of carbohydrates that have been refined and their minerals, therefore, removed.
Anyone concerned about getting enough calcium should not eat grains. People who suffer with nervousness, sleeplessness and/or cramps may already be experiencing some of the symptoms of calcium deficiency. Getting carbohydrates from fresh fruits, and consuming dark green leafy vegetables, possibly along with a few occasional nuts, seeds and/or avocadoes, will insure adequate intake of usable calcium. Consuming grains in addition to the wholesome foods mentioned above is defeating of your purpose and is to be discouraged.
- 1. Introduction
- 2. Classifications Of Carbohydrates
- 3. The Role Of Carbohydrates In The Body
- 4. How Carbohydrates Are Digested And Used By The Body
- 5. Sources Of Carbohydrates
- 6. Why Starches Are Less Than Ideal Sources Of Carbohydrates
- 7. Why Fruits Are The Ideal Source Of Carbohydrates
- 8. Amounts And Variety Of Carbohydrates Needed By Humans
- 9. Disease Conditions Related To Carbohydrate Consumption
- 10. Questions & Answers
- Article #1: Carbohydrates By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #2: Digestion Of Foods By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #3: Starches Are Second-Rate Foods By Marti Fry
- Article #4: The “Staff Of Life” By Marti Fry
- Article #5: What’s Wrong With Wheat By Marti Fry
- Article #6: Fruit – The Ideal Food By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton
- Article #7: Are Humans Starch Eaters? By Dr. Herbert M. Shelton