Ask Gutbliss: Starch and Microbial Health

Gutbliss Reader Question: Recently, I’ve been increasing the amount of fibrous vegetables I eat, based on the recommendations I’ve seen here. I’ve also started eating oatmeal again. But I seem to notice Candida flare-ups when I eat too much starch. Should I limit my intake of oatmeal and maybe other starchy foods, such as sweet potatoes? Also, I’ve seen, on other websites, that green banana and green plantain are good prebiotics. Would you recommend eating these foods? –Autumn


As a general rule, incorporating fibrous plant foods high in inulin and resistant starches – like bananas, green bananas, green banana flour, green peas, lentils, uncooked rolled oats, white beans, as well as squash and sweet potatoes – are a great way to increase the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut, and in turn, crowd out pathogenic bacteria, promoting a balanced microbiome.


While some individuals suffering from dysbiosis (imbalanced gut bacteria, including Candida overgrowth) will thrive on a diet containing these foods, others may find that starchy foods lead to symptoms. If you find this is the case, listen to your body, and decrease, or completely eliminate, these recommended starchy foods from your diet for a period of time (NOTE: Eliminating artificial sweetener and sugar is an important step in treating dysbiosis). If you enjoy these foods and would like to reintroduce them, do so slowly after 2-3 weeks, and find a balance that works for you.


Another way to feed beneficial gut bacteria is through leafy greens, so if you find that foods high in inulin and resistant starches are problematic, focusing on an abundant and daily consumption of leafy greens can help promote a balanced microbiome.


-Leslie Ann Berg, MSPH


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