In a world plagued by dietary restrictions, brown rice is a safe zone for those looking for an affordable, gluten-free, healthy grain alternative. But as MindBodyGreen says, it may not be all it's cracked up to be, especially when it comes to gut health.
"While brown rice is generally a safe alternative, it does have some dietary pitfalls that can cause bloating and gas that can result in discomfort, belching, and/or flatulence," writes Taz Batia, M.D., integrative medicine doctor, and author of Super Woman RX. Because it's still a starch, someone who has bacterial overgrowth may experience discomfort after eating brown rice.
Plus, it's "relatively high on the glycemic index," she explains. "The G.I. is a rating system for the carbohydrates in foods that goes from zero (none) to 100 (way too much). Brown rice comes in at about the halfway mark with a score of 50, and for those who are highly sensitive to carbohydrates, this level can still induce inflammation, which can upset digestion."
To determine whether or not brown rice is upsetting your stomach, she recommends eliminating it from your diet for six weeks and slowly reintroducing it to see what kind of symptoms you experience. For something more concrete, you can ask your doctor to do a breath hydrogen test. "If you have too much [hydrogen in your breath], it can mean that you have high levels of bacteria from unabsorbed carbohydrates," she explains. In the meantime, she recommends polenta, couscous, quinoa, or better yet, cauliflower rice as suitable substitutes.