Rice is a staple food around the globe and is popular due to its high levels of nutrients, combined with a low-calorie count.
Rice contains carbohydrates, protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other nutrients, and has the added bonus of being a relatively cheap, filling meal, which has seen it become a staple in many dishes.
For some people, however, rice can cause stomach problems such as bloating, gas, or diarrhea. We took a closer look at just what rice can do to your stomach and the reasons and science behind this.
What Is Rice?
Rice is an edible cereal grain that comes from several species of grasses native to Asia, and is one of the most important foods for humans, providing about 20% of the world’s daily caloric intake.
The word “rice” derives from the Latin arum, meaning “aromatic herb”.
In English, “rice” refers to any type of grain from the genus Oryza, including wild rice (Oryza glaberrima), but also includes domesticated varieties like long-grain white rice (Oryza sativa) and short-grain brown rice (Oryza brachyantha).
The grains are harvested when they have reached maturity, after flowering, and before the seeds begin to ripen. They are then dried, polished, and milled into flour.
Health Benefits Of Rice
Rice is a good source of dietary fiber, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, potassium, selenium, zinc, copper, iron, vitamin B6, folate, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin E.
It is also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, especially linoleic acid, and is a good source of monounsaturated fats.
In addition to these health benefits, rice is also a good source of protein, making up about 10% of the average person’s total daily calories.
Rice is also a great source of energy, containing 496 kcal per 100 grams. This makes it more than twice as nutritious as wheat, which has only 200 kcal per 100 gm.
How Does Rice Affect Your Body?
Rice is a carbohydrate, and therefore digests quickly, causing a rapid rise in blood sugar levels. However, unlike other simple sugars, it does not cause a sharp spike in insulin levels, so it does not contribute to weight gain.
Because of this, rice is often recommended as part of a healthy diet. It provides a slow release of glucose, helping to keep blood sugar levels steady throughout the day.
It is also a complete source of all essential amino acids and is considered by many nutritionists to be a complete protein.
However, because rice is a complex carbohydrate, it should be eaten in moderation.
A large amount of rice will increase your glycemic index, which means that you will experience a sudden rise in blood sugar levels, followed by a drop. This causes a surge in insulin levels, which leads to increased fat storage.
Can Rice Cause Digestive Issues?
While rice is generally considered to be safe for most people, there are some exceptions, and this is usually due to an underlying medical condition.
For example, if you have celiac disease, then eating gluten-containing foods like rice can trigger severe reactions.
This is why it’s important to check with your doctor before starting any new dietary regime. They can advise you on whether you need to restrict certain types of food, and what changes you might need to make to your diet.
In addition, eating too much rice can lead to bloating, fatigue, and nausea in some individuals, and this is because it can be tricky to digest, resulting in unwanted side effects and symptoms. So, how can you avoid these symptoms?
A few tips include:
Eat Smaller Portions
When you eat rice, try to limit yourself to around half a cup, or about 150 grams. This helps to prevent overeating and keeps your blood sugar levels stable.
Eat With Other Foods
One way to reduce the impact of rice on your stomach is to combine it with other foods.
Pairing rice with beans, lentils, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, peas, carrots, whole grains, nuts, and tomatoes will all help to keep your tummy happy, as these foods help to slow down digestion, preventing a sudden rise in blood glucose levels.
Avoid Cooking With High Glycemic Index Ingredients
Cooking with high glycemic index ingredients such as potatoes, pasta, bread, and sugary cereals increases your risk of developing diabetes. Try to cook with low glycemic index ingredients instead.
Choose Smart Cooking Methods
There are a number of ways to prepare and cook rice, but boiling and steaming are generally considered to be the healthiest options and will ensure that you get the maximum benefit and nutrition from your rice dish.
Use Whole Grain Rice
Whole grain rice contains more nutrients than refined white rice, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
When choosing between brown and white rice, choose the former. Brown rice has been shown to have numerous health benefits, including lowering cholesterol levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.
Try Different Varieties
Rice comes in different varieties, each with its unique nutritional profile. You may want to experiment with different kinds of rice to see which one works best for you.
Some popular varieties include basmati, jasmine, wild, black, red, and long grain, and each of these has its own health benefits.
The Best Alternatives To Rice
If you find that your body is not comfortable tolerating rice, there are a few alternatives that you can try, and some of the most popular include:
Quinoa is rich in protein, iron, magnesium, zinc, phosphorus, and vitamin B6. It also contains essential amino acids, making it a great alternative to rice.
Oats contain many beneficial nutrients, including soluble fiber, potassium, manganese, copper, and magnesium. They also provide energy-boosting carbohydrates, helping to keep you going throughout the day.
Millet is a gluten-free ancient grain, so it is perfect if you suffer from celiac disease or wheat allergies. It is also very nutritious, containing lots of dietary fiber, folate, calcium, and iron.
Beans are another healthy option, providing you with plenty of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates. They are also a good source of folic acid, potassium, and magnesium.
Nuts And Seeds
Nuts and seeds are packed full of nutrients, including protein, fiber, and omega-3 fatty acids. They also contain important minerals like selenium, zinc, and magnesium.
Soybeans are a great source of plant-based protein, and they are also a good source of fiber, calcium, and iron, among other things.
These tiny little seeds are bursting with nutrients, including protein, calcium, magnesium, and omega-3 fatty acid. They also contain antioxidants, making them a great addition to any diet.
This grain is packed full of protein, iron, and calcium, and is gluten-free. Amaranth is also a good source of fiber and vitamins A, C, D, E, K, and B1, and is used as a substitute for rice in a number of dishes.
Spelt is a type of wheat that is high in protein, low in starch, and gluten-free. It is also a good source of calcium, iron, and magnesium.
Rice is an accessible, affordable, and nutritious dish, but it is important to be aware of the unwanted side effects that it can have if your digestive system is not compatible.
If you notice any signs of discomfort after eating rice, such as stomach cramps, bloating, nausea, or diarrhea, then it would be wise to avoid this food altogether.
Instead, opt for healthier options, such as quinoa, oats, millet, beans, nuts, and seeds, and enjoy all the benefits that they offer!