After reading about white rice, I contacted the US Rice Producers Association to get the scoop on a possible side effect from eating it…
Dear US Rice Producers:
Please help me with some questions about rice. I tried writing Uncle Ben and Rice University, but they either didn’t know or were too busy to write back.
Based on studies the US Rice Producers Association is familiar with, or even hearsay, can you qualify or quantify whether or not white rice causes constipation? Any kind of connection you can point out — whether scientific, realistic or cosmic — will be appreciated. Specifically, if white rice causes constipation, why does it do that? Rice is so small that you can eat hundreds at one sitting. How many rice would you recommend stopping at before reaching the brink of constipation? Finally, do people in Asia have fewer bowel movements than people in countries where less rice is consumed?
This subject is not only causing me a mental block, but possibly a blockage elsewhere, so any information or opinions you can provide from either a qualified expert or a member of your association suffering from a rice constipation condition who can speak first-hand will be very helpful and I apologize if this is a classic example of a run-on sentence, but I’m trying to cram the most information possible into it so I don’t waste anymore of your time.
I’ll hold off on eating white rice until I hear back from you.
A Member Services Coordinator responded with:
In response to your letter, I have not heard of any studies that measure bowel movements compared to eating rice. However, brown rice is significantly higher in dietary fiber than regular enriched white rice. The Nutritional Information handout I have enclosed is very useful in explaining the health benefits of rice. There is a chart at the end laying out the nutritional content of various forms of rice. As you can see, regular white rice has the least amount of fiber per half cup cooked. Brown rice has more than 53 times the amount of dietary fiber than white rice.
Rice has many nutritional benefits and I would not discourage you from eating it. If you are having a constipation problem however, I would suggest enhancing your diet with more fiber rich foods. Rice is so versatile that it can be combined with almost any other food to create a nutritious and tasty meal.
I did a quick web search and found an article called: “The 12 Best Fiber Foods” on www.dlife.com (a website dedicated to help people with diabetes). They are listed as follows:
6. Black beans
8. Vegetable Beef Soup
I’ve taken the liberty of enclosing some of our USRPA recipe brochures to help you get started.
On a personal note, I love rice, my family eats rice all the time, and we have never had a problem. My husband is Ecuadorian and they eat it with every single meal. Beans, plantains, lentils, avocados and fruit are also a regular part of the Ecuadorian diet.
One of my favorite websites for free recipes is www.allrecipes.com and I’ve taken the liberty of doing a quick search for recipes with the top three fiber ingredients and have included print outs. Also, I know many people are hesitant about eating brown rice, but it is really not very difficult to cook. You can make it just as you would make white rice, you just need to know that it will take longer to cook, it can take anywhere from 45 – 60 minutes.
I know I was not able to answer your question directly, but I hope the information I have included has been helpful.
Final Thoughts: Constipation is painful. That’s why, when it comes to white rice, many constipated people are sitting on toilets all around the world mumbling, “No pain, no grain.”
The US Rice Producers Association representative went way above and beyond to provide helpful, insightful information. In addition to a “Nutritious Rice” printout, various recipes and a “Specialty Rice” brochure, she also enclosed a US Rice Producers Association pen and foam beverage holder. All that, plus she took the time to do web searches for additional relevant information.
One thing I noticed while researching this subject is there’s a lot of crap written about constipation that’s confusing. This WebMD slideshow, “Myths and Facts About Constipation,” might help you clear some things up. Also, take a look at “What Foods Can Cause Chronic Constipation?” It includes white rice and many other refined starches that have had the fiber removed through processing, which can contribute to constipation. Another intriguing article is “Rice: White vs. Brown. Good vs. Bad?” from Diary of a Nutritionist. However, if you’re constipated and rice isn’t the reason, have a medical professional such as a Proctologist see if they can put their finger on why.
Here is where you can learn more about rice and the US Rice Producers Association. Finally, whether it’s constipation or anything else you need to better understand, instead of straining for answers, sometimes all you need to do is Write The Company.