Does Rice Cause Inflammation?

Are you a fan of rice? Many cultures find it an integral part of their nutrition, and millions throughout the world love this cereal grain. But does rice cause inflammation in the human body?

Eating grains is a controversial topic in the world of nutritionists and food experts. You will find professionals that recommend restricting grains severely. They believe low-carb and high-fat diet is the way to go for optimal health, weight, and well-being.

On the other hand, many experts believe you don’t have to throw out carbs from your nutrition. The only thing to ensure is to pick them carefully. We can apply that rule to rice because the variant of this grain that you consume also influences how it affects your body.

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What Is Inflammation?

Inflammation occurs in a human body attacked by viruses, bacteria, and other foreign organisms. [1] It is a process that involves white blood cells, which protect the body from infection. Inflammation can be acute or temporary or chronic, which causes long term issues.

Inflammation can appear in any part of the body, and it might affect the heart, small tubes, kidneys, and the entire organism. Autoimmune diseases are often caused by our body entering an inflammation process when there are no foreign organisms to protect against.

Arthritis is one of the most common forms of chronic inflammation. The symptoms might include swelling, immobility, redness, pain, heat, fatigue, etc. Depending on the specifics of the inflammation, you can also deal with fever, mouth sores, rash, etc.

Anti-Inflammatory and Pro-Inflammatory Grains

First, let’s take a look at the structure of a grain. [2] You could say that grain has three components:

  • Germ – the part that is in the innermost section. It is what forms a new plant.
  • Bran – it is a component situated on the kernel’s outer skin.
  • Endosperm –this is the central section of the plant in charge of providing food for it.

You’ve heard people mentioning whole and refined grains. A whole-grain comes with all three components intact. On the other hand, a refined grain only comes with the endosperm part. That is a problem because that section is what contains most nutrients, including protein, minerals, and vitamins.

In layman’s terms, the nutritional value of refined grains is nowhere near their whole-grain variant. That is why you should throw them away from your nutrition completely. That list includes white bread, as well as cakes and cookies that you might eat.

White rice is also on the list of refined grains. If you consume it, white rice will act the same way as any other grain that was refined. The body will ingest carbs from it, and these carbohydrates will break down quickly.

As a result, the human organism converts them into sugar. Sugar is a pro-inflammatory compound, which means it contributes to inflammation in the human body. Depending on how much sugar you take, it might lead to chronic inflammation. [3] This, on the other hand, leads to severe health conditions, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Since our body ingests white rice in a way to turn it into sugar quickly, we can consider white rice to be a pro-inflammatory food. But does brown rice cause inflammation?

Does Brown Rice Cause Inflammation?

According to experts, brown rice is a far healthier option than its white counterpart. [4] That is because its glycemic index isn’t so high, which means it won’t cause as big sugar spikes as white rice.

Additionally, brown rice is a whole grain, which means it kept all three parts of the plant. As we already established, bran and germ contain the most nutrients. That means brown rice is more nutritious than the white variant.

The crucial nutrients in brown rice include:

  • Manganese: 45% of the recommended daily intake
  • Zinc: 4%
  • Magnesium: 11%
  • Vitamin B6: 7%
  • Niacin: 8%
  • Thiamine: 6%

It is important to mention that brown rice contains twice or three times as much of some of these nutrients as white rice.

Although you should stick to the recommended dosages, there is no reason why you should exclude brown rice from your nutrition. It contains antioxidants, which protect your cells from free radical damage. [5] Rice also contains fiber, which can promote digestion and satiety.

What Does Science Say?

A comprehensive study that focused on the effect of brown rice consumption of inflammatory markers in non-menopausal women dealing with obesity and extra pounds. [6] The clinical trial included 35 women split into two groups. The first group had to stick to a white rice diet for weeks, and the other was on a brown rice-based nutrition plan.

According to the results of the study, replacing white rice with its brown variant proved useful. The researchers concluded that it reduced the level of inflammatory markers throughout the body. It also decreased multiple factors considered a risk for cardiovascular disease.

The same study showed that the brown rice diet contributes to weight loss, as well as reduced body mass index, hip, and waist circumference. If your goal is to lose weight and achieve optimal body composition, brown rice is a far better alternative than the white variant.

Brown Rice Benefits

We covered the nutritional value of brown rice, but what does it mean for the human body?

Here are the benefits you can expect from consuming this grain:

  • Assists in managing diabetes – since it contains a fairly low glycemic index, it is suitable for those who need to keep their diabetes under control.
  • Protects against oxidative damage – free radical damage deteriorates cell health and the overall state of the organism. Antioxidants found in brown rice can assist in protecting your cells against free radicals.
  • Helps with the weight loss process – brown rice can be a part of your nutrition plan designed to lose weight. It can contribute to fat loss and BMI reduction, as well as assist in maintaining good cholesterol levels.
  • Neuroprotective properties – according to a study, brown rice has neuroprotective properties that could reduce, delay, or prevent complications caused by conditions like Alzheimer’s. [7]
  • Assists in protecting against colon cancer – since it is rich in fiber, brown rice can contribute to colon cancer protection. It binds to toxins that cause this cancer and expels them from the organism.

Brown rice can also have a helpful role in boosting immunity, strengthening bones, and promoting digestive health.

How to Cook Brown Rice

If you want to cook brown rice to maximize its potential benefits, make sure to rinse it well first. That way, you eliminate any impurities, which could have a negative and pro-inflammatory effect. You can consider adding the desired quantity of rice to a pot and then adding two to three times as much water.

Use the lowest heat settings require for a boil. Once that happens, turn down the heat even more. Simmer for about half an hour and give the rice time to absorb the water. Try the softness of the rice, and if you would like it even softer, add more water and wait for its absorption.

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Final Thoughts

As you can see, rice can be both pro and anti-inflammatory, and it depends on the grain type that you consume. Since white rice is refined, you should avoid consuming it. But if you are a fan of rice, you can eat its brown variant. Brown rice is nutritious, and it doesn’t have inflammatory characteristics. As long as you keep the dosages moderate and as recommended by your nutritionists, feel free to consume brown rice, and don’t worry about inflammation.




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