The Great Brown Rice Switch



A meal cannot be said to be complete in many parts of the world without a heap of piping hot, soft white rice. In fact for many people, rice cannot be any other color but white. So when the idea of eating brown rice was first mentioned at home, for the sake of health benefits, I could not help but inwardly hope that this would only be a temporary state of affairs. After all, the idea was so alien, and literally not easy to swallow.


As it turned out, brown rice was not entirely unfamiliar. Brown rice is actually whole grain rice, which means that it is rice that has only its outer hull removed. Its color comes from the bran layer and cereal germ, which are also removed when milling white rice. In a sense brown rice is analogous to whole wheat bread, while white rice is akin to white bread.


One thing that takes some getting used to when it comes to brown rice is the taste. Unlike white rice, which has a soft and mild flavor, brown rice is nutty and occasionally with some earthy overtones. Brown rice also has a less polished consistency, which sometimes makes it difficult to partner with sauces and soupy dishes. In my experience, light cream sauces or curries go well on brown rice. Thick hearty stews such as sinigang, or rich gravies are also great with brown rice. Tomato-based stews have limited success on brown rice, while au gratin is a disaster!


Another challenge I face with brown rice is simply with cooking it. Unlike white rice, which is relatively easy to manage whether in a traditional pot or rice cooker, brown rice requires a little more care to get to the right consistency, owing to its more complex layers. It may also need more water to cook. This is one kind of rice that cannot simply be left to boil unattended. Nowadays I am able not only to boil brown rice, but to rejuvenate cooked brown rice by lightly frying in oil with garlic. This is a great way to take brown rice from dinner to breakfast.


What makes these trade-offs worthwhile? Compared to white rice, brown rice has higher amounts of rice, Vitamins B1 (thiamin) and B3 (niacin), Vitamin B6, and micronutrients such as selenium, phosphorus and magnesium. Brown rice is also considered a complex carbohydrate, which means that it takes longer to digest and metabolize than simple carbohydrates found in white bread, white rice, and candies. This allows for better control of blood sugar, which is excellent for preventing unexpected spikes and crashes. Brown rice is also a great source of fiber, which helps keep things running smoothly in the digestive system.


It’s been around eight or so years since I’ve made the switch to brown rice, at least for meals at home. My body can definitely tell the difference on the days when I do not have brown rice; for one thing I get hungry more quickly in its absence. Of course having brown rice as a healthier substitute to white rice does not mean I can eat as much of it as I like. Even with this, moderation is necessary to stay in good health.



And then in my case, it was a wake up call to be more health conscious. On a texture and taste standpoint, it isn’t as sweet as white rice and the texture is coarser in comparison. However, after plenty of times eating brown rice, it helped make my bowel movements feel regular during the times that I ate these. Admittedly, it takes a while to get used to, but once you’re used to it, it’s the type of rice you’d look for and it also helps set you up for other types such as red rice.


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Feeding the Speedy Brain: On Diet and ADHD

2017 was a year of plot twists, and one of my biggest would come in the last weeks of the year. Although I had known for some years that having epilepsy had certainly wired my brain a little differently, it did not explain everything that was going on in my everyday life like my inability to keep still for even a short period of time. After getting myself checked, I finally learned that I was one among several million adults worldwide coping with Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder, or more commonly known as ADHD.

Most persons living with ADHD have been diagnosed in childhood. In many cases, this arises from parents and teachers noting a child’s difficulties with schoolwork or other behaviors requiring much attention and focus. However, there are some persons (such as yours truly) who remain undiagnosed all the way into their adult years. This can be due to an adult’s increased insight and awareness about one’s behaviors and their consequences, or because seemingly ‘minor’ quirks and impairments in childhood become more apparent or a cause for concern in an adult’s environment. As of now, there has been no one cause or etiologic agent pinpointed for ADHD. Much still remains to be learned about this condition.

There are several approaches to managing ADHD, ranging from the use of medications and behavioral therapy, as well as lifestyle interventions such as diet and exercise. Yet there is still this question: what can people who have ADHD eat, and what foods should they avoid?

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One food that may be beneficial for people coping with ADHD is omega-3. Yes, that same fatty acid that is ‘good for the heart’ may also be ‘good for the brain’. Omega-3 may be found in fatty fish, as well as in flaxseed, walnuts, and soybeans. For most people, it would not hurt to have a few servings of these foods each week, to help both the heart and the brain work better!


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It has also been suggested that probiotics may help manage ADHD symptoms. However, there are still few studies regarding the connection of gut bacteria to ADHD, and whether probiotics do have any benefit. All the same, probiotics have other health benefits even for people without ADHD, as intake of these ‘good bacteria’ also help improve digestive function and the immune system.  

Previous studies conducted in the US and UK have suggested that food additives such as artificial colors were associated with hyperactivity in children. Other studies have also suggested that high sugar intake may also be associated with hyperactivity. At present though, this evidence is not yet strong enough to show that intake of these foods causes or worsens ADHD symptoms. Nevertheless, regardless of whether one has ADHD or not, it is still a healthy practice to reduce intake of foods that have high amounts of additives. Cutting down on sugar is also considered good dietary advice for all ages, especially as part of preventing heart disease and other disorders later in life.

Some people claim that caffeine intake may help their ADHD symptoms. While it is true that caffeine may work in synergy with some of the medications used to treat ADHD, it does not work the same for everyone. Other patients claim to have no benefits from drinking coffee, or claim that this only makes their situation worse!

Regardless of these prescriptions and prohibitions, the general advice for people with ADHD (or with most other conditions for that matter) is to continue to eat healthily: hydrate, have adequate intake of fruits and vegetables, have enough protein both from plant and animal sources, and avoid excessive sugars, fats, and above all trans-fats. That is advice that we can surely stand with!

So what does this mean for us at Team Glasses? As it turns out, nixing the soda, chips, and fast foods might have been one of our better ideas. All the same, we probably won’t be going back on coffee any time soon since this still triggers attacks of GERD or epileptic seizures.

Just like with all conditions, ADHD manifests differently for each person, and no two persons have the same exact treatment. It’s just one thing to contend with in this never-ending quest for wellness in the life of two gourmands. All the same, we began this blog to help readers like you to deal with this, while still enjoying great food.

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