What Does Rice Do for the Digestive System?

Rice
A bowl of white rice. (Image: whitetag/iStock/Getty Images)

Your digestive system runs on a delicate balance, processing nutrients out of the foods you eat and making stool that is neither too hard nor too soft so you do not get constipation or diarrhea. The system needs certain food types to work correctly, and sometimes you must adjust what you eat if you have digestive problems. Rice aids proper digestion and is good for recovery from certain ailments.

White Rice

White rice is a bland, low-fiber food because it is processed, like white flour and bread. White rice is easy on your digestive system, making it a suitable item on bland menus for people recovering from various digestive ailments like an upset stomach, gastroenteritis and diverticulitis. You can eat plain white rice or derivatives like cream of rice hot cereal or plain rice porridge, according to San Francisco State University Student Health Services. White rice's low fiber content makes it less likely to irritate your intestines, and it does not contribute to diarrhea.

Brown Rice

Brown rice is a high-roughage food rich in insoluble fiber on its outer part, with soluble fiber inside, registered dietitian Nancy Berkoff explains on the Vegetarian Times website. The soluble fiber controls blood sugar and lowers cholesterol, but the insoluble fiber promotes good digestion. Unlike the soluble type, which changes its form into a jelly, the insoluble type retains its shape and resists digestion. This allows it to move other digestible foods along more efficiently. The insoluble fiber also absorbs water that moisturizes stool, and it bulks up your waste product into soft but solid pieces.

Bland Diet Considerations

White rice must be combined with other bland foods when used to sooth the digestive system during illnesses. Spicy foods and high-fiber items counteract the white rice's healthy effects. Combine the rice with white toast, bananas and apple sauce during your initial recovery, San Francisco State University Student Health Services advises. You can also drink clear juices and add some rice to clear broth. None of these items place any stress on your digestive system. Gradually add other items like crackers, pasta, boiled potatoes, seedless fruits and vegetables, broiled meat and scrambled or boiled eggs.

High-Fiber Considerations

Brown rice must be combined with other high-fiber foods to provide maximum digestive system benefits. You need other sources of insoluble fiber to aid in constipation prevention, and of soluble fiber to control cholesterol and glucose. The soluble fiber also feeds good intestinal bacteria because some of it ferments in your body. Mix brown rice with fibrous vegetables for a particularly healthful dish for your digestive system.

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