Potential benefits of resistant starch for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Potential benefits of resistant starch for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Resistant Starch: A Promising Treatment for Fatty Liver Disease


Supplements can sometimes help people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. (Image Source: FootageStockEasy/Getty Images)

Are you struggling with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)? Well, there might be some good news for you. Researchers have recently discovered a potential treatment for NAFLD using resistant starch. Not only does this starch positively affect metabolism, but it may also help reduce liver injury and inflammation, lowering the risk of developing NAFLD.

The Groundbreaking Study on Starch and Liver Disease

In a study published in the journal Cell Metabolism, researchers recruited 200 people with NAFLD and provided them with a balanced diet. Half of the participants received a resistant starch powder derived from maize, while the other half received a non-resistant corn starch with a matching calorie content. Both groups were instructed to consume 40 grams of starch mixed with water before meals twice a day for four months.

After the four-month period, the results were astounding. The group that received the resistant starch treatment showed a nearly 40% decrease in liver triglyceride levels compared to the control group. In addition, they had reduced liver enzymes and inflammatory factors associated with NAFLD. Even after adjusting for weight loss, the improvements remained significant.

The Role of Gut Microbiota

To further understand the mechanism behind the treatment, the researchers analyzed fecal samples from the participants. They found that the group receiving the resistant starch had a different composition of gut microbiota. Specifically, they had a lower level of Bacteroides stercoris, a type of bacteria that can affect fat metabolism in the liver.

To validate the role of gut microbiota in the treatment, the researchers transplanted the resistant starch group’s fecal microbiota into mice fed a high fat, high cholesterol diet. The results were promising, with the mice experiencing a significant reduction in liver weight and triglyceride levels, as well as improved liver tissue grading, compared to those transplanted with microbiota from the control group.

Dr. Hardeep Singh, a gastroenterologist with Providence St. Joseph Hospital, hailed this study as an interesting breakthrough in understanding the potential connection between the gut microbiome and fatty liver disease. However, he also emphasized the need for further research before recommending resistant starch as a treatment option for NAFLD.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: The Silent Threat

NAFLD occurs when fat accumulates in the liver, potentially leading to severe liver disease and increasing the risk of developing other conditions like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, there are currently limited treatment options for this condition. Weight loss through diet and lifestyle modification remains the primary approach.

Studies have shown that weight loss, particularly through bariatric surgery, can reduce fatty liver disease and scarring. Coffee consumption, specifically 2 to 3 cups of regular black coffee per day, has also been associated with reduced fat and scarring in the liver. Additionally, vitamin E supplementation has shown promising results in improving fatty liver disease in select patients.

Prevention is Key: Tips to Avoid NAFLD

Prevention is always better than cure. The Ohio State University, Wexner Medical Center recommends adopting a healthy lifestyle to prevent NAFLD. Following the Mediterranean diet and monitoring sugar intake can be beneficial in avoiding the accumulation of fats in the liver that lead to injury, inflammation, and fibrosis.

Dr. Singh advises that lifestyle modifications, particularly for individuals who are overweight or obese, can play a crucial role in preventing fatty liver disease. By becoming more active and losing weight, the risk of developing insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome, precursors to NAFLD, can be reduced in some patients.

However, Dr. Singh also highlights that there are cases where genetics play a significant role, making it difficult to prevent the condition. Just as some slim individuals develop diabetes, certain patients with a normal body mass index and no risk factors for metabolic syndrome may still develop fatty liver disease due to genetic predisposition.

The Power of Resistant Starch

Resistant starch, a type of carbohydrate that acts more like fiber, has shown positive health applications for conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and digestive health. Typically found in foods that have been cooked, cooled, and reheated, resistant starch digests slowly and offers various health benefits. Some good sources of resistant starch include legumes (especially lentils), cooked and cooled potatoes and rice, overnight oats, green bananas, and whole grains.

While there isn’t a recommended daily allowance for resistant starch, experts suggest incorporating a variety of sources of fiber, including soluble, insoluble, and resistant starches, into your daily diet.


In conclusion, the recent study on resistant starch and its potential benefits for fatty liver disease offers hope for those struggling with NAFLD. Although further research is needed to establish its efficacy as a treatment option, adopting a healthy lifestyle and maintaining a healthy weight remain crucial in preventing this silent threat. So, go ahead, try including legumes, cooled potatoes, and other resistant starch sources in your diet, and take charge of your liver health today.