McDougall, M.D., July 2011
The Starch Solution.]
What better way to poke a
sharp stick in the reader’s eye than with the word “starch”? I want to
get people’s attention and force a reaction. More importantly: “Starch”
is the correct scientific term for the foods people need to eat.
My new publisher, Rodale Inc., with a target date of April 2012, is
making great progress on my new book, The Starch Solution. The initial
manuscript has been sent to their editors.
People continue to ask me the same questions: Why do you use the
highly inflammatory word “starch”? Why, especially, in the title of your
new book? No one will buy it. Starch is for laundry. Starch is white
glop. Starch makes you fat.
My answer: What better way to poke a sharp stick
in the reader’s eye than with the word “starch”? I want to get people’s
attention and force a reaction. More importantly: “Starch” is the
correct scientific term for the foods people need to eat.
The Scientific Journal, Starch...
Each month the international journal Starch is published with scientific
papers for the investigation, processing, and use of carbohydrates and
their derivatives for food and non-food purposes. Thus, the proper
scientific name for these high-carbohydrate, vegetarian (vegan) plants
foods is “starch.”
Until you realize that you are a starch-eater,
the solution to your health and weight problems will remain elusive.
Once you understand that the bulk of your diet must come from starches,
like rice, corn, beans, potatoes, and sweet potatoes, everything will
fall into place. You will now think: It just makes so much sense now.
The program is easy to follow, the foods are delicious and satisfying,
the excess body fat disappears, the bowels work, my laboratory test
results are now great, and my mental and physical energy have become
boundless. Most importantly, with starches at the center of your meals,
you feel a sense of wellbeing and control. You have finally come home to
your food. This way of eating is for life.
Starches Are Plants, but Not All Plants Are
Referring to my dietary recommendations as
vegetarian, vegan, plant-food-based, or high-carbohydrate is correct,
but not sufficiently specific.
- Vegetarian means that meat is eliminated.
Most people would include eggs and dairy products in a vegetarian
diet and many would also allow fish (or chicken).
- A vegan diet avoids all foods from animal
origin, but can still be based on Cokes, potato chips, and vegan
cheesecake. At least half the vegetarians and vegans I know are
overweight and unhealthy because of all the soy meats and cheeses,
olive oil, nuts and seeds, simple sugars and refined flours they
- A plant-food-based diet could mean lettuce,
kale, broccoli, and cauliflower, and therefore, a lifetime of hunger
pains and fatigue from lack of energy.
- And table sugar is a high-carbohydrate
food: enough said.
The word “starch” conveys exactly what you are
supposed to eat.
What I love best about your focus on
starch in this lecture is
that it’s much simpler for me to understand than focusing on carbs,
proteins, and fats. I know what a starch is; I can recognize that
food easily. And I can grow starchy foods in my gardens. But how do
I grow a protein, a carb, or a fat? Those explanations were always
too far removed from what I see on my plate.
Email from Caroline G.
All Plants Contain Starch
Plants synthesize and store carbohydrate in
their roots, stems, leaves, flowers, and fruits. Some plant parts, like
the seeds (grains and legumes), roots, and tubers concentrate very large
amounts of starch in the form of stored energy. This fuel will serve to
sustain the plant’s parts during the winter and provide the energy for
reproduction during the next growing season. Starch supports the
germination of grains (rice and corn) and legumes (beans), and the
sprouting of tubers (white potatoes) and roots (sweet potatoes) in the
In practical terms of the foods on your plate,
starches are plant parts that contain very large quantities of
carbohydrate and therefore can sustain human life. Non-starchy green,
yellow, and orange vegetables are too low in energy; you would have to
eat two bushel basketsful of cabbage to get sufficient calories to make
it through the day. Fruits are plentiful in calories, but they are
mostly simple sugars that fail to provide sustained appetite
McDougall’s Classification of Common Foods:
Grains: Barley, buckwheat, corn,
millet, oats, rice, rye, sorghum, wheat, wild rice, etc.
Legumes: Beans, peas, lentils,
Starchy Vegetables: Carrots,
Jerusalem artichokes, parsnips, potatoes, salsify, sweet
potatoes, winter squashes (acorn, butternut, Hubbard, banana),
Green, Yellow, and Orange (Non-starchy)
Vegetables: Bok Choy, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage,
cauliflower, celery, chives, collard greens, eggplant, garlic, green
beans, kale, leeks, lettuce, mustard greens, okra, onions, peppers,
radish, spinach, summer squashes, rhubarb, scallions, turnips,
Fruits: Apples, apricots, bananas,
berries, cherries, grapefruit, grapes, figs, loquats, mangos,
melons, nectarines, oranges, papayas, peaches persimmons,
pineapples, plums, tangerines, watermelons, etc.
What Is Starch?
Plants make basic carbohydrates (simple sugars),
like glucose, by combining water and carbon dioxide with energy derived
from the sun in a process called photosynthesis. The sugars formed are
then linked together in long linear (amylose) and branching (amylopectin)
These chains of sugars then aggregate within the
cells of plants to form starch granules (grains) in their cytoplasm. The
starch granules are located in chloroplasts of green leaves and in
amyloplasts of seeds, legumes, roots, and tubers. Starch granules
examined under a microscope differ in size, shape, and markings
depending on their plant source. Potato starch granules are
smooth-surfaced and oval, while corn, rice, and wheat starch granules
are less smoothed-surfaced, angular and pentagonal. Potato starch
granules are about two to three times larger than wheat, corn, and rice
Starch is the main source of digestible
carbohydrate in the human diet. During the process of digestion, the
enzyme amylase, which is found in large quantities in human saliva and
the intestine, breaks these chains into simpler sugar molecules. The
digestive processes are slow and result in a gradual release of glucose
from the small intestine into the bloodstream. Eventually, large amounts
of glucose enter the body. Most of the starch consumed by people will
have already been cooked. Cooking starts the breakdown of starch
Commercial Uses of Starch
Starch in its pure form is a white, odorless,
tasteless, carbohydrate powder. Starch granules are not soluble in
water, but when heated in water the granules swell and gelatinize. When
cooled, this gelatin sets into a paste, which can be used as thickening,
stiffening, and gluing agents. The word "starch" is derived from a
Middle English word, sterchen, meaning to stiffen. Starch is a
principal ingredient in laundry products, medicines, cosmetics, and
Papermaking is the largest non-food application
for starches, worldwide. The construction industry uses it to make
gypsum wallboard, stucco, and various adhesives or glues.
In the food industry, starch is used to make
corn syrup, which is used in table syrup, preserves, ice cream, and
other confections. Thickeners and stabilizers made from starch are used
in puddings, custards, soups, sauces, gravies, pie fillings, and salad
The Starch Revolution
The central role of starch in human nutrition
has been forgotten. All large populations of trim, healthy people,
throughout verifiable human history, have obtained the bulk of their
calories from starch. Examples of once thriving people include Japanese,
Chinese, and other Asians eating sweet potatoes, buckwheat, and/or rice;
Incas in South America eating potatoes; Mayans and Aztecs in Central
America eating corn; and Egyptians in the Middle East eating wheat.
My book, The Starch Solution, will serve
as a manifesto to help reverse current health trends. Worldwide, people
are fat and sick because of their dependency on meat, dairy, eggs, and
oils for calories. The all-too-real changes we are presently
experiencing in our climate are being fueled in large part by pollution
from the livestock industry. An amazingly simple win-win opportunity
stares us in the face: a global switch to a starch-based diet will solve
the diseases of over-nutrition and put a big dent in global warming with
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