Researchers from Purdue University in Indiana have developed a method which slows down the rate at which starch is digested and converted into glucose.
The technique involved embedding ‘guest’ molecules of other substances into the water channels of the starch matrix. The researchers experimented with embedding a number of different guest molecules that included vitamin C, curcumi, ibuprofen and thymol.
Curcumin is an interesting choice as this molecule, found in the spice turmeric, has significant health properties including helping to improve blood glucose and cholesterol levels.
Starch is a form of carbohydrate. When eaten, starch is broken down by the body into glucose. The time it takes for the body to break down starch depends on the type of starch as some starches have more complicated molecular structures which take longer for the body’s digestive system to break down.
For the purposes of this study, the researchers tested their technique using potato starch. When the custom potato starch with embedded molecules was tested against conventional potato starch, the altered form delayed the release of glucose by 22% within 2 hours of digestion.
The advantage of the technique for people, particularly those with diabetes or prediabetes, is that by slowing down the release of glucose, the starch can help to reduce sharp rises in blood sugar levels following meals. The researchers also see this as an opportunity to supplement foods with additional vitamins and compounds.
The hope that the starch could prevent type 2 diabetes is perhaps optimistic and further research would be needed before such claims could be substantiated.

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