I first discovered green banana flour many years ago when I visited a banana farm in North Queensland. The banana farmers there had made a fortune by turning their wasted green bananas into powders to sell. This is when I first heard about resistant starch and the benefits of resistant starch for gut health in particular. Interestingly when I was breastfeeding I mistakingly bought some breakfast bars from the supermarket. I bought the bars without much thought and did not realise that they were fortified with synthetic resistant starch. Synthetic resistant starch is not ok. It gave me hypoglycemic attacks where my blood sugar would drop really low and I would get dizzy and be terrified of passing out with a little four-month-old baby in my arms. The whole experience triggered some pretty severe anxiety in me (because low blood sugar causes anxiety) and it was by far the worst and scariest time of my postpartum experience. It took me 1-2 weeks to figure out that the bars I was eating were causing my issues and as soon as I stopped eating them ( I was having them daily as my go-to snack) my blood sugar crashes stopped. The whole experience was so awful that I became terrified of low blood sugar for quite some time! It is true that if I was not breastfeeding then this reaction was unlikely to occur, at least not as severely, as breastfeeding is generally a state of lower than usual blood sugar due to the increased energy needs, but the experience actually surprised me because as far as I was aware resistant starch is supposed to be incredibly healthy and my diet has always been quite high in resistant starch. I have always eaten a lot of cooked and cooled potatoes, cooked and cooled rice as well as legumes and have never ever had any issues with my blood sugar, this is yet another experience that simply proves that food will always be superior to supplements. Isolating and concentrating a compound and then putting it back into food or taking it as is in a pill will never be as safe as eating food the way it is found in nature. This is why I like products like this Green Banana Flour from DHOW Nature Foods. Green banana flour is a very high source of resistant starch, it provides 42- 52 g of resistant starch per cup making it the highest food source of resistant starch available. It is so high in resistant starch that it can be used as a supplement if needed but it provides the benefits of the resistant starch in a safe whole food form that also contains a lot of other nutrients and compounds and doesn’t lead to unwanted side effects when used correctly.
So now that we have established that it’s much better and safer to get resistant starch from foods over supplements or fortified foods, let’s dive into the benefits of green banana flour and resistant starch for women’s hormones.
Resistant starch is a type of carbohydrate that is resistant to digestion. This means it acts similarly to fibre in the body. It is also a known prebiotic (just like fibre) which feeds the gut microbiome.
- Helps improve insulin resistance.
Many studies have shown that resistant starch can help improve insulin resistance. Insulin resistance is a root cause of a few hormonal imbalances like PCOS. Having high insulin can lead to higher than normal levels of testosterone which can lead to weight gain, acne, hair loss and facial hair in some women. Resistant starch is also powerful at lowering blood sugar, it’s so good at lowering blood sugar that it can have a second meal effect, meaning that if you eat a breakfast that is high in resistant starch it will lower the blood sugar spike after breakfast and also lower it after lunch even if no resistant starch is eaten at lunch. When eaten in whole form resistant starch can help balance blood sugar which can greatly improve symptoms of PMS and help manage anxiety. Many studies have shown resistant starch to be powerful at combating obesity and promoting weight loss.
- Helps heal the gut lining and lower inflammation
Inflammation is another root cause of many hormonal imbalances eg. PCOS, thyroid conditions, endometriosis. One of the greatest sources of inflammation in women is poor gut health. “Leaky gut” or “intestinal permeability” where the tight junctions in the gut cells wear out and the gut allows undigested food particles to enter the bloodstream. These particles cause a widespread inflammatory response as they are foreign to the system. Resistant starch has been shown to help heal the gut lining, therefore, preventing any undigested particles from entering the bloodstream. It does this through the production of a short-chain fatty acid called “butyrate” which functions to help improve the integrity of the gut lining as well as lower inflammatory markers.
- Assists the estrobolome in ridding unwanted estrogen
The estrobolome is a specific subset or group of bacteria in the microbiome that is responsible for reactivating estrogen and excreting it or sending it back into the bloodstream. It does this through a compound known as beta-glucuronidase, which unpackages estrogen. In a healthy gut, only enough beta-glucuronidase is produced keeping estrogen in balance. Low microbial amount and diversity can lead to low estrogen states as not enough beta-glucuronidase is produced, similarly, an overgrowth of bacteria in the gut (eg, sibo) can lead to too much beta-glucuronidase being produced and too much estrogen being reabsorbed leading to estrogen dominance conditions like endometriosis, PMS, fibroids etc. Resistant starch is known to affect beta-glucuronidase production in animal studies and is known to help increase Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium in the gut. This can help the estrobolome keep estrogen in check.
- Green banana flour may support mood by boosting serotonin
Green banana flour has other benefits beyond resistant starch, namely that it is high in the amino acid tryptophan, magnesium and vitamin b6. These three nutrients interact to create the neurotransmitter serotonin during the day and the hormone melatonin at night. Serotonin is needed for healthy gut motility (most serotonin is produced in the gut) and is the main neurotransmitter associated with a happy good mood. Estrogen and serotonin have a very tight relationship and imbalances in serotonin can be one of the reasons women experience fluctuating moods at PMS as well as low and anxious moods during the first part of the cycle if estrogen is low. Melatonin is the hormone that helps us sleep at night and is also responsible for many detox reactions in the body (as most detox happens at night).
- Green banana flour contains essential nutrients for hormone balance
Aside from magnesium and vitamin b6, green banana flour is also high in zinc, phosphorous and manganese. Magnesium and manganese work directly on the pituitary gland in the brain and are responsible for the production of enough estrogen, testosterone and progesterone. They also help regulate the stress response, stabilise the nervous system and promote restful sleep. Vitamin b6 is crucial for establishing a good steady mood especially at PMS and zinc is responsible for healthy follicle/egg development ensuring a smooth menstrual cycle all month long.
Green banana flour is naturally gluten-free and has a mild nutty taste and aroma. It is quite a dense flour and does not rise very well. For this reason, I like to use it mostly for dense cakes, cookies and brownies. This particular recipe for a vegan chocolate cake produces a small thin cake (do not expect it to rise much in the oven) but it has a deliciously moist and dense texture, similar to a mud cake. The thing I love most about this recipe is that it has the green banana flour as a prebiotic AND yogurt as a probiotic! So it is an overly very gut-friendly hormone balancing chocolate cake!
|The Benefits of Resistant Starch for Women's Hormones and Vegan Green Banana Flour Chocolate Cake|| |
- 1 cup DHOW Green Banana Flour
- 1 cup plant-based yogurt (I used cashew yogurt)
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ½ cup + 2 TBSP almond milk
- ¼ cup cacao powder
- ¼ cup neutral-tasting oil (I used macadamia oil)
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- pinch salt
- 1 cup cacao powder
- ½ cup cacao butter
- ½ cup maple syrup
- In a bowl combine together the green banana flour, coconut sugar, cacao powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. In a separate bowl combine together the yogurt, milk, oil and vanilla.
- Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients until a batter forms.
- Pour batter into a lightly greased 20cm springform cake tin.
- Bake in the oven at 180 C for 40 mins or until a toothpick comes out clean.
- For the frosting: meltdown the cacao butter in a saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and stir in maple syrup and cacao powder. It will create a thick frosting. Lather on the cake with a spatula and decorate with berries. Slice and enjoy.