Are starch blockers weight loss products safe?

Finer Points of Carbohydrates

Is it possible to sneak one by Mother Nature?

In the e-Alert “Complex Made Simple” (6/23/04), HSI Panelist Allan Spreen, M.D., explained the finer points of carbohydrates; why some are acceptable, and why others should be avoided.

In the “must avoid” column, Dr. Spreen listed starch, pointing out that starches break down into sugar as soon as they begin the digestion process.

So what if you could block that starch?

You may have heard about “starch blockers” – the weight loss products that promise to stop complex carbs from breaking down so they’ll simply pass through your system. These starch blockers do work for some people, but there may be a price to pay.

Dr. Spreen explains: “Breaking down starches requires an enzyme in saliva (and other digestive juices). This enzyme can be blocked, using plant-based enzyme blockers. If the starch is not broken down to sugar it becomes like cellulose; it is not metabolized and subsequently passes out of the system. However, you can’t be assured that the starch you’re blocking is unrefined, and the lack of fiber can be responsible for problems within the bowel other than just caloric absorption.

“Again (and again, and again), it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature!”

And that’s true whether you’re blocking starches or refining carbohydrates.

Another problem with starch blockers: Even though they’re natural products (an extract from white kidney beans), the long-term effects of fooling your digestive system with this supplement are unknown. Obviously, the healthier choice is to eat properly rather than trying to hide those dietary transgressions.