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Brown rice can help boost memory, ease rice shortage, says scientist

/ 09:26 PM January 13, 2012

DID YOU know that consuming brown rice cannot only boost your memory, it can help ease the rice shortage problem that has been hounding the industry?

This has been the daring assessment of neuroscientist and “Balik Scientist” Custer Deocaris. “It is about time for Filipinos to shift to a brown rice diet.” Brown rice, he explains, is rich in gamma amino butyric acid (Gaba), a brain neurotransmitter and a memory-enhancing ingredient.

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Consuming brown rice, Deocaris further explains, would have “a huge impact in the Philippines, where rice is the staple food. Brown rice may help improve the brain development of millions of schoolchildren and also address micronutrient deficiency and food security problems.”

Help solve shortage

The Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) hopes the majority of Filipinos would eventually accept brown rice, and thus cut the country’s dependency on imported rice. An article at the DOST website cites that consumption of brown rice would help solve the rice shortage. Science Secretary Mario G. Montejo says the production of brown rice “would increase the yields of rice by 10 percent.” Montejo challenges DOST-FNRI scientists to work on a technology that would extend the shelf life of brown rice.

Brown rice consumption is also part of Deocaris’ Luntiang Lunes (Meatless Monday Philippines) campaign.

Gaba brown rice (also called pregerminated rice) was introduced globally by Japanese scientists in 2004, the International Year of Rice. This type of brown rice has been allowed to sprout several hours prior to cooking. Germination, or sprouting, brings about various rice enzymes to produce more nutrients and metabolites that have medicinal value.

Just last December, Deocaris formulated his own version of puto bumbong, a rice delicacy traditionally enjoyed during the Christmas season, using Gaba brown rice.

“The Gaba brown rice that I incorporate in my puto bumbong has been germinated in such a way that specific metabolites are at their highest levels.”

FNRI nutritionist and scientist Dr. Trinidad P. Trinidad says brown rice provided more health benefits than its white counterpart. “In white rice, the removal of the bran, and some parts of the germ, results to losses of fiber, B vitamins, vitamin E, trace minerals, unsaturated fat and about 75 percent of the phytochemicals that are readily available in the grain.”

DOST adds that brown rice, according to studies, is also responsible for triggering cholecystokinin, a peptide hormone that tells the body that it has had enough food for a meal. As a result, one would feel prolonged fullness, resulting in less rice consumption, which in turn would work for weight maintenance and reduction.

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Lowers cholesterol

“New studies show that replacing 50 grams of white rice with the same amount of brown rice would lower the risk for Type 2 diabetes by 16 percent. Brown rice has a low glycemic index of 52; its oil content also has a cholesterol lowering effect; and it has no significant difference in iron absorption with white rice. DOST-FNRI is set to roll out the technology and transfer it to interested private companies,” Joy Lazcano wrote.

A diet of Gaba brown rice for only two weeks improved mental health, the ability to cope with life stress and immune system of Japanese breastfeeding mothers. This was shown in a Japanese study in 2007. In the study, 41 breastfeeding mothers were recruited, and randomly divided into two groups. One group took pregerminated brown rice and the other white rice (control) as their staple diet for 2 weeks.

In the psychological assessment, the scores of depression, anger-hostility and fatigue were decreased on POMS analysis in the pregerminated brown rice diet group, resulting in a significant decrease in total mood disturbance (TMD).

“We have shown that pregerminated brown rice may have beneficial effects on psychosomatic health,” the study says.

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