Starch is a part of a well-balanced diet. Starch is a carbohydrate, the kind of macronutrient that should make up the bulk of your diet. When you digest starch, it is broken down into its simplest form and the excess is stored for later use. However, unlike plants, the human body stores starch in a different form.
Starch is a carbohydrate and like any other dietary carbohydrate, your body breaks it down during digestion. Starch digestion begins in the mouth as the enzyme salivary amylase begins to breakdown the complex structure of starch. Digestion halts in the stomach and begins again as the food enters your small intestine. Starch gets broken down until it is a monosaccharide known as glucose.
Glycogen is the body's storage form of starch, though it is technically glucose. To understand this, you must understand that starch is a plant's storage form of glucose. However, as humans, we store the same glucose as glycogen. Our body is equipped to contain excess glucose molecules as glycogen rather than starch.
After you eat a meal, your body releases the broken down carbohydrates, including starches, as glucose into your bloodstream. This raises your blood glucose levels, which initiates the release of the hormone insulin. This hormone triggers your cells to take in the glucose from your blood and either use it for energy or store it as glycogen for later use. Most all of your cells do this, including your liver, which stores more than its fair share because it helps to regulate your blood glucose, releasing stored glycogen during times of low glucose.
Sources and Considerations
Starch is found in many commonly eaten, plant-based foods. These include breads, potatoes, peas, corn and beans. Some starches are very easily digestible and can impact your blood glucose rapidly. People who are diabetic may want to control their starch intake for optimal blood glucose control.
- "Nutrition: Concepts and Controversies"; Frances Sizer and Eleanor Whitney; 2004.
- "Anatomy and Physiology"; Kenneth S. Saladin; 2004
- University of Maryland Medical Center: Starchy Foods; David Zieve, MD, MHA; May 20, 2009
- American Diabetes Association: Diabetes Myths