Are Starch Blocking Supplements Safe?
Answered by: Susan Eagles
Question from: Name not given
Posted on: August 19, 2003

I have been a registered dietitian for 25 years. I have noticed that suddenly there are products called starch blockers on the market. I’m interested in some of the ingredients such as

1) acacia (4th ingredient)

2) crospovidone (5th ingredient)

3) white kidney bean extract (Phaseolus vulgaris) This is being marketed as a all natural protein concentrate. Is it truely all natural and does it come from the common white kidney bean?

The above ingredients are a few listed in the [commercial starch blocker product]. I have seen a variety of different pills and fruit chews on the market that class themselves as starch blockers. Are these products safe? The fat blockers had a side effect of loose stools. These products claim no side effects.

I have not found any research information on possible side effects of starch blockers. For those using starch blockers as a weight loss aid, it must be realized that starch blockers do not block fats or sugars.

Regarding the constituents that you question:

1) acacia: the gum of various acacia species is used in herbal medicine as a soothing agent for inflamed intestine, throat or bronchi. It is also used as an emulsifying agent in food and medicinal products.

2) crospovidone is a synthetic powder that is sometimes used to help dissolve tablets and capsules.

3) white kidney bean extract (Phaseolus vulgaris): phaseolus vulgaris is the common white kidney bean. It is high in protein. I do not know how this extract is prepared. According to James Duke, (http://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/duke_energy/Phaseolus_vulgaris.html#Folk Medicine website accessed August 2003) the raw or uncooked dry bean can cause illness similar to food poisoning, possibly because of a constituent toxin that is destroyed by cooking. It is also important to know whether synthetic chemicals are used to prepare the extract. You can contact the manufacturer for more information.

In herbal medicine, rather than promoting the use of supplements, we usually recommend a change in diet. Overconsumption of starch in a North American diet that is high in refined cereals, breads and pastas, is a common cause of medical problems. We recommend complete avoidance of refined carbohydrates, and a balanced diet that is high in vegetables, includes meat, fish or a legume/whole grain protein source, and essential fatty acids with a good ratio of omega-3 oils (in wild fish and flax seeds) and omega-6 oils (most nuts and seeds). I have found in all cases that as well as resolving various health problems, my clients lose weight and sugar/starch cravings dimish after converting to such a diet and engaging in daily exercise. For more information on this diet, please see our web page at www.richters.com. Choose Q&A from the main menu and enter "syndrome X" for the search.

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