Typically, rice isn’t likely to cause gastrointestinal distress. However, if you have a rice allergy, rice may upset your stomach and cause other unpleasant symptoms. Moreover, when you’re constipated, white rice won’t help the problem and may exacerbate it. If white rice causes you stomach pain, discuss your symptoms with a health care provider.
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A rice allergy isn't common in the United States. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that it’s more common in Japan where rice is a food staple. Common sources of food allergies and intolerances in the United States include wheat, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soy, egg, shellfish, tropical fruit and food additives. Food-allergy symptoms include itching skin, hives, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, facial swelling and dizziness.
The BRAT Diet
For most people, plain white rice is easy on the stomach. Doctors recommend this bland, low-protein, fat-free food to ease recovery from food poisoning, viruses and diarrhea. Rice is part of the classic set of easy-to-digest foods known as the BRAT diet; BRAT is an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast.
If you’re constipated, you may feel uncomfortable and bloated. Low-fiber foods, such as white rice, can cause or worsen constipation. Substituting whole-grain brown rice for white rice will help, as will consuming adequate dietary fiber and fluid. You should increase dietary fiber gradually, so that your body can adjust to the change. If constipation causes nausea, vomiting or severe stomach pain, seek medical attention.
Consider keeping a food and drink journal to identify triggers of stomach discomfort. Besides noting your response to rice, also pay attention to common food allergens and gastric irritants such as caffeine, cigarettes, medications, greasy foods and alcoholic beverages. You may find that rice isn't responsible for your symptoms.
If your journal points to rice as a stomach irritant, you can further test the hypothesis with an elimination diet. Eliminate rice and rice-containing products from your diet for several weeks. If your symptoms disappear, this supports the idea that rice causes you symptoms. If this is the case, it's wise to seek a medical opinion. If you’re allergic to rice, you must learn how to manage and treat the allergy. If eliminating rice doesn't help your stomach symptoms, a doctor can help you determine their cause.