In an exchange with Seth Roberts in the comments section of this post, I postulate a possible link between the honey experiment that Seth has been blogging about, and the Resistant Starch experiment.
The main outcome of the honey experiment has been the reporting of dramatically improved sleep. Sound familiar? That’s also one of the main effects people have reported while on Resistant Starch (potato starch).
Seth has apparently been following the RS experiment and made the connection himself. But he proposed a link that isn’t probable — that both honey and RS raise blood sugar, which leads to better sleep.
That’s based on a (understandable) misunderstanding of RS. I think many who aren’t following too closely are assuming that RS is a “slow carb” that is slowly digested by the body, like many other complex carbohydrates. That couldn’t be further from the truth. RS is, if I may invent a term, a “no carb.” It’s indigestible. Skips the whole digestion process, and instead goes straight to the colon, where the “other you” (your microbiota) feeds on it. And in fact, RS’s effect on blood sugar is quite the opposite — people report a lowering of fasting BG and post-meal BG. How so? The bacteria that RS feeds in turn produce short-chain fatty acids. Specifically, butyrate. Butyrate stabilizes blood sugar.
A more plausible link: Honey contains oligosaccharides, another kind of fermentable fiber which feeds bacteria that produce SCFAs, causing blood glucose to stabilize.
Oh, and what kind of oligosaccharides does honey contain? Short-chain fructooligosaccharides (scFOS)! As I’ve shown in the last couple of posts, scFOS has been shown to have complementary, different, and sometimes superior effects to Resistant Starch.
A useful test for the honey experimenters would be to measure their morning FBG after a night without honey, and then after a night with honey. If the results mirror the RS experimenters’ outcomes, then we might be onto something.