Starches: Unsuspected White Danger

  • 2014

Starch is one of the most abundant elements in human nutrition, given its important presence in grains, fruits and tubers of mass consumption. Conceived by vegetables as an efficient reserve nutrient, it serves the human diet as the main carbohydrate generator of cellular combustion. However, if certain metabolic conditions are not met, it can become an important source of body toxemia. This situation is due to a related factor: excessive intestinal permeability, which allows rapid passage to blood flow and causes a large number of chronic diseases.

To understand the functioning of starch in our organism, it is good to understand its function in the plant kingdom, where it is originated. Starch is produced by vegetables as a nutritive reserve substance, which is mainly stored in seeds and roots, in order to underpin the successive reproductive cycle. Plants produce sugars through: solar photosynthesis, the carbon in the air and the water that the roots send. But these nutrients could not be conserved in the seed in soluble form, since the germ of the brand new seed, usually must wait a year or more, in order to find appropriate conditions to generate a new vegetative cycle. Therefore, the plant transforms soluble sugar into insoluble starch, also providing the germ with certain enzymatic elements that will allow it to reverse this process, given the need for sugar to feed the next germinative phase.

That is, in the seed, starch is nothing more than sugar stored safely and stably over time. This wonderful effectiveness is demonstrated when they manage to germinate seeds that have remained 4 or 5 thousand years in lethargy. The sugar generated by the splitting of the starch, allows to nourish the germ that wakes up, until the seedling can produce sugar by itself, through the new leaves and roots. This function of starch in the seed, makes some botanists consider it as the equivalent of breast milk for the baby.

Starch as a human nutrient

Starch, technically defined as a polysaccharide carbohydrate, is formed by two types of structures: amylose and amylopectin. Amylose is poorly soluble in water, even in hot water. The richest foods in this insoluble structure are corn (species destined for starch production reach 75% amylose), peas, wheat and potatoes. The poorest in amylose, and therefore richest in amylopectin, are cassava, rice and barley.

The role of starch in human nutrition is that of cellular fuel ; but in order to fulfill this task, it must be converted into simple sugars (glucose) that cells can use. When the body warns of excess available glucose, the liver and muscles store the surpluses, recombining these simple sugars in the form of glycogen (reserve polysaccharide structure) or as fat (adipose tissue). When there is a lack of sugars, the body is forced to use glycogen or tissues (proteins) to produce energy. In other words, the adequate presence of sugars allows you to reserve proteins to build structures. It is worth adding that in addition to nourishing the cells throughout the body, sugars also serve to regulate fat metabolism (oxidation) or to complete liver detoxification processes.

So that the starch can contribute its nutritional richness to the organism, we saw that it is needed its correct unfolding in simple sugars: glucose . In the past, cereals were eaten without grinding. Some grains were collected before their full maturity, when not all sugars had yet become starch. Today we do that only with some fresh legumes (peas, beans). Once the grain has matured, although its storage is practical, to use it it is necessary to cause the starch inversion process in simple and assimilable sugars. The most natural process is the germination of the seeds. With moisture, temperature and absence of sunlight, the germ awakens, launching the natural enzymatic cascade that nature envisioned to transform starch into simple sugars. Sprouted was a system widely used in ancient times. For example, Roman soldiers used to carry a stock of seeds at the waist, which, by the action of moisture and body heat, germinated and provided an excellent nutritional reserve amid the long crossings. Another example was the bread of the Essenian communities, described in the gospels and barely commented.

The development of agriculture and the ability to store reserves in the form of grains, was changing human consumption habits. First, the genetics of the most popular grains began to change : from the primitive manual selection, then the domestication of non-original species (export of crops to new environments), agricultural hybridizations (cross between varieties), until reach genetic manipulation (transgenic obtained by biotechnology). Today certain varieties of wheat are developed to reach high concentrations of gluten, the protein responsible for its spongy and light response in baking. These alterations have grown exponentially in recent decades, since the "green revolution", and the most popular cereals have changed substantially many structures (especially at the protein level) with respect to the original varieties, with which the human being evolved .

In the opinion of many independent specialists, this accelerated change (decades) is not consistent with the biological organic capacity to modify enzymes and mucins in order to process new structures (hundreds of millennia). A rare exception to this rule is rice. Higham discovered in 1989 that the chromosomal structure of the rice grain is transformed for some generations because of the manipulation of the farmers, but it has to return to its original wild state in its 12 pairs of chromosomes. Obviously, this is no longer valid in the face of biotechnological mutation (and there are already transgenic rice!).

Along with the genetic alterations, the milling of cereals and the production of flours also began to become popular, perfecting the industrial processes, until arriving to the modern super fine white flour (00000) of the last century and the immaculate and impalpable cornfields. This technology caused the starches to be left without their synergistic companions before the seed (germ, minerals, proteins, vitamins and the essential enzymes) and that they depended exclusively on certain essential conditions for achieve the split into simple sugars .

In the absence of germination, there should be sufficient hydration, which allows the embedding of the molecules and helps to break the membrane that surrounds microscopic amylidic structures. Heat is another factor that contributes to this process, favoring hydrolysis. From there the ancient techniques of making slow-leaved bread (dough of whole-wheat flour leaked for a whole day), of roasting the grains prior to processing (activates the dextrination process) of fermenting the seeds (cereal milkshake).

Today, the efficient industrial bakery processes do not take into account these important requirements. With the development of flour premixes, which already include rapid leavening and improver additives, hydration is fleeting. To this is added the ultra-fast cooking of electric ovens that handle high temperatures. All this not only happens in the big factories, but also in the small bakeries or pizzerias of the neighborhood, with which the problem is spectacularly massified .

The metabolic pathway of starch

But let's go back to the metabolic process of starches. In the absence of slow hydration and cooking, to complete its splitting the good presence of enzymes is necessary, especially when we must metabolize starches that have lost seed enzymes in the refining process. Then the enzymes present in the food or those provided by our body come into play. The enzymes being very sensitive to temperature, the foodstuffs are reduced to the increasingly scarce contribution of the raw components of the diet (salads, sprouts, freshly squeezed juices, barely roasted seeds, etc. ). In many cultures, the use of natural ferments that contribute their rich enzymatic load: sauerkraut, soy sauce or paste (shoyu or miso), water kefir or even beverages such as wine or beer is ancestral. But of course, for these elements to contribute their enzymatic richness, they must come from processes lacking enzyme-destructive techniques : the case of the ubiquitous pasteurization, even mandatorily required by law in modern industrial foods.

Regarding organic enzymes and their adequate availability, it is something that depends on the good nutritional balance of the organism, something difficult to achieve in the average citizen. Enzymes are amino acid structures, specific to act and transform certain substrates. It would be like the spark that triggers a combustible mixture . Continuing with graphic terms, its specificity would be like the right key to open a lock; Only one key can open the bolt. In turn, enzymes depend on the presence of a complementary element (coenzymes), without which they cannot function. Coenzymes are synthesized from vitamins and minerals (especially trace elements or trace minerals). That is, without an adequate nutritional contribution of amino acids, vitamins and minerals, the lack of enzymatic synthesis will be obvious and therefore the possibility of metabolizing foods such as starch will be diminished.

In relation to the organic enzymes involved in the splitting of starch, the first and most important are in saliva, whose action converts polysaccharide structures (starch) into di-saccharides (maltose). Salivary amylase (formerly known as ptialin) has a neutral pH (7) that is optimal for this process. Its action is interrupted when the bolus reaches the stomach and meets the acidic pH of gastric juices. Hence, some suggest not mixing starches and acidic elements in the same meal. In any case, it is obvious that the slow and careful chewing is elementary for the good unfolding of starches, especially in the presence of the usual intestinal permeability that we will see next. Checking the effects of good chewing is very simple to experiment : just take a bite of neutral cooked cereal, that is, without salt or sugar that can modify its flavor. As the chews pass and the saliva acts on the starch, we can gradually notice how a delicate sweet taste gradually intensifies: it is the conversion of the insipid starch into simpler sugars (maltose).

After passing through the stomach, the bolus of food bolus receives in the intestine the beneficial influence of new enzymes secreted by the pancreas: pancreatic amylase . Under the presence of amylases, starches become dextrin and maltose (disaccharide). Finally, by the action of maltose (enzyme synthesized in intestinal hairiness), maltose is converted into a simple carbohydrate: glucose (monosaccharide). Even so, it is estimated that 20% of legume starches cannot be digested in the small intestine and must be processed by the flora of the colon. When the colonic flora is unbalanced, which usually occurs, the classic flatulence is noticed, which is unfairly awarded to legumes.

All of the above indicates that several conditions are necessary for the efficient conversion of starch into simple sugar, beyond genetic manipulations: good hydration, proper cooking, proper chewing and insalivation, adequate enzymatic input and balance of intestinal flora . As we saw, very few of these conditions are achieved in our modern diet. And this generates the problem of "raw" or "resistant" starches. By minimizing the issue, we could argue that more than a problem, this is nothing more than a nutritional waste. However, this incorrect processing of starch has more serious facets, since it is combined with intestinal disorders.

The problems of raw starch

The main intestinal problems that enhance the problem of raw starches are two: the excessive permeability of the intestinal mucosa and the imbalance of the flora . The subtle mucosa that lines the small intestine (just 0.025 mm thick) is the only barrier that protects us from poorly digested nutrients and toxic substances. Due to numerous circumstances, this delicate filtering structure becomes too porous, allowing inconvenient substances to pass into the blood plasma. In this way, the "raw" starch molecules that reach the intestine, arrive quickly to the circulatory flow, and since they are not soluble in blood, the body detects them as toxic substances.

The consequences of this harmful and inadvertent daily contribution of blood starches, are accurately illustrated by Dr. Jean Seignalet, French eminence in intestinal problems and organic fouling: “These molecules gradually accumulate in the extracellular environment or inside of the cells, producing intoxication diseases: primitive fibromyalgia, manic-depressive psychosis, endogenous depression, schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, non-insulin-dependent diabetes, gout, hematological diseases (anemia, thrombocytopenia, polyglobulia, leukopenia, hyperplaquetosis), sarcoidosis, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, arteriosclerosis, premature aging, cancer and leukemia. The task of eliminating these exogenous molecules is ensured by the neutrophil polynuclear and macrophages that transport the waste through the emuntoria. When the white blood cells increase excessively, they cause an inflammation of the emuntory. This results in elimination pathologies: colitis, Crohn's disease, acne, eczema, hives, psoriasis, bronchitis, asthma, recurrent infections, allergies, canker sores, etc ”.

Another interesting explanation is provided by Dr. Norman Walter, long-time author of the book "Rejuvenate": "When I became aware that the starch molecule is not soluble in water, alcohol or ether, I discovered why cereals and starchy foods eaten in large quantities had caused such damage to the liver, causing it to harden like a piece of cardboard . It also gave me clues as to why hard stones such as stones in the gallbladder and kidneys form, and why the blood clots unnaturally in the blood vessels, forming hemorrhoids, tumors, cancers and other imbalances in the body. The starch molecule travels through the bloodstream and lymph as a solid molecule that the body's cells, tissues and glands cannot use. ”

Wes Peterson, a nutritionist from Wisconsin (USA), brings more data to the puzzle: “I have long noticed that starches create mucus . Many specialists have dealt with this issue, and I have proven it in my experience and in that of many other people. Why do they form mucus? One reason is because they are insoluble in the blood. Starch particles or granules that pass from the intestine into the bloodstream are toxic; the body cannot use them and they are harmful. The body tries to eliminate them through the main detoxification channels, among others, the lymphatic system and the sinuses . In this way, the body seeks to purge itself through mucus. But this mechanism is sometimes not enough; starches congest and block the organism, a factor that contributes to the degeneration of the body and disease ”.

However, this problem has been known for a long time, as Prof. Prokop of the Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany) points out: More than 150 years ago the fundamentals of the so-called Herbst effect, which was later forgotten. In the 60s he was rediscovered by Prof. Volkheimer at the Charite Hospital in Berlin, and then examined through many experiments and publications. What is the Herbst effect? If an animal or a human being is given experimentally, a significant amount of corn starch, biscuits or another product containing starch, starch granules can be found n in venous blood, minutes or half an hour after intake, and in the urine after an hour or more. The term persopci n has been created to describe this interesting phenomenon. In fact, it is surprising that he has been given so little attention . It is, in fact, the basis of our understanding of peroral immunization and allergies. I hope that many realize the implications that this has on public health.

Volkheimer himself points out: Solid and hard microparticles, such as starch granules, whose diameters are clearly in the micrometer range, they are regularly incorporated in considerable numbers from the digestive tract. Motor factors play an important role in the paracellular penetration of the epithelial layer of the cell. From the subepithelial region, the microparticles are removed through the lymphatic and blood vessels. They can be detected in body fluids using simple methods; just a few minutes after oral administration, they can be found in the peripheral blood system. We observe its passage into urine, bile, cerebrospinal fluid, alveolar light, the cavity of the peritoneum, breast milk and through the placenta towards the blood flow of the fetus. Since persorbed microparticles can embolize small vessels, this is linked to microangiological problems, especially in the central nervous system region. The long-term deposit of embolizing microparticles, formed by potential allergenic or contaminating substances, or that carry pollutants, has immunological and technical-environmental importance. Many ready-to-eat foods contain large amounts of microparticles that can be persorbed.

In this regard, Dr. BJ Freedman expresses: The intact starch granules can pass through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream. They remain intact if they have not been cooked in water for long enough. Some of these granules embolize arterioles and capillaries . In most organs, collateral circulation is sufficient for the function of the organ to continue. However, in the brain, neurons can be lost . After many decades, the loss of neurons could have clinical significance and be the cause of senile dementia . To test this hypothesis, brains need to be examined for embolized starch granules. The polariscopic examination of the tissues makes it possible to clearly distinguish the starch granules from other objects of similar appearance.

To ensure that starches are digested properly, human beings should chew food very well, so that it mixes efficiently with saliva. However, only 30% or 40% of the starch consumed can be degraded in the mouth by the action of salivary enzymes. Dr. Arthur C. Guyton in his Text of Medical Physiology clarifies: “Unfortunately, most starches, in their natural state in food, occur in small globules, each of which has a thin protective cellulose film . Therefore, most natural starches are digested inefficiently by the action of ptialin, unless food is cooked very well to destroy this protective membrane. ”

Now, the cooking necessary to destroy the protective membrane of starch cells, what does it do to the nutritional value of the food? The American nutritionist Wes Peterson makes a reasoning in this regard: “To avoid absorbing intact starch granules, toxic to the organism, the starchy food must be cooked in water to form a homogeneous mass of soft consistency. However, cooking transforms the food into a pathological, artificial and strange substance, messes up its structure and its energy pattern, destroys its vital force, damages and alters nutrients, eliminates enzymes and vitamins, and creates new toxic substances. Since the human body uses starches through a complicated process that is only partially effective, why not consider the need for carbohydrates by consuming, for example, fresh fruits, which already contain simple, easy-to-digest sugars. ? We don't need starches at all and we can have better health without them . ”

The problems of very cooked starch

The other side of the coin is the excess cooking that our food starches suffer today. In this sense, the most studied problem is acrylamide . It is an artificial, mutagenic and carcinogenic substance that originates when frying, roasting or baking starchy foods above 120ºC . Acrylamide is part of the new molecules that are generated through the cooking of food and that are toxic.

The first alarm signal came from the University of Stockholm (Sweden) in 2002, through a study that found high amounts of this substance in consumer foods: 1, 200 mcg in industrial fries, 450 mcg in homemade fries, 410 mcg in cookies, 160 mcg in breakfast cereals and 140 mcg in bread . To give an idea, WHO allows only 1 mcg per liter of drinking water, as an acceptable value. For its part, the International Agency for Research on Cancer establishes that acrylamide induces mutations in genes and tumors, and damages the nervous system.

Useful Recommendations

Without the need to adopt extreme postures, however it is important to become aware of the seriousness of the exposed problem, given the implications in the generation of important chronic and degenerative pathologies. As a summary, we believe it is useful to outline some suggestions to minimize the damage caused by the modern industrialized food to which we are exposed.

• Reduce the consumption of flours, since they usually have inadequate processing.
• Privilege the consumption of whole and whole grains, which require extreme cooking care.
• Do not forget that cereals and legumes are seeds that can be activated, germinated and fermented, which unfolds the starches avoiding cooking.
• Prefer slow and low temperature cooking, trying not to exceed 100ºC.
• When cooking whole cereals, pre-dry dry, then add the water to complete its correct cooking.
• When cooking legumes, pre-soak, then hold the cooking until the grain disintegrates under the pressure of the fingers.
• Prefer less genetically manipulated grains and more resistant to structural changes (rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, amaranth, Andean maize, etc.).
• Perform a good chewing and insalivation of starchy foods, trying to notice the natural sweet taste generated by simple sugars.
• Combine cereals and legumes with enzymatic accompaniments: raw salads, sprouts, freshly squeezed juices, barely roasted seeds, sauerkraut, soy sauce or paste (shoyu or miso), water kefir, etc.
• Ensure a good supply of microminerals, vitamins and amino acids, through natural and complete foods (bee pollen, Andean salt, algae, seeds, etc.).
• Take care of the balance of the intestinal flora, reducing food consumption with antibiotics and preservatives, and increasing those that provide enzymes, soluble fiber and flora regenerators.


Extracted from the book “Dairy and Wheat”

Starches: Unsuspected White Danger

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