Tamil Nadu: More probiotics in fermented ration rice in rural areas

Environmental factors & outer layer removal giving access for bacteria may be reasons
Representative Image.
Representative Image.

CHENNAI: For some years now, doctors have said that traditional fermented rice or pazhayasoru is your gut’s best friend. Now, doctors at the Government Stanley Medical College Hospital have found that parboiled ration rice cooked and fermented in rural areas contain more gut-friendly probiotics than the rice prepared in urban areas.

Doctors at Stanley’s Institute of Surgical Gastroenterology made the discovery as part of an ongoing study into fermented rice, which has been found to support digestion and cure inflammatory bowel disease. Researchers said difference between gut-friendly probiotics found in rice fermented in rural and urban areas could be due to environmental factors.

Researchers had compared the parboiled ration rice with at least eight other rice varieties including cooked red rice and parboiled ponni rice. They found that the most probiotic bacteria was found in the parboiled ration rice, which is polished after removing the outer layer.

This could be because the removal of the outer layer might give easier access for fermenting bacteria, said Charumathi Anbalagan, a research associate.

The study also showed that fermented rice has over 500 secondary metabolites (micronutrients), which act on the gut cells to influence good health. This is a key finding to cementing the science behind the benefits of fermented rice water, added Charumathi. Such probiotics have several nutritional and health benefits, including immediate effects such as improved digestion, absorption of micronutrients, combatting of intestinal infections, and maintainance intestinal health, the doctors said. It also showed that exposure of pazhayasoru kanji to the intestinal cells leads to increase in their nutrient absorptive, barrier strengthening, and energy utilisation functions, said Charumathi.

Dr S Jeswanth, director of the Institute of Surgical Gastroenterology and principal investigator of the study, told TNIE, “Many patients with gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), urinary tract infection, and menstrual problems have said they found pazhayasoru kanji useful. Thus, there are chances that it might clear up other infections as well. Further research can be taken up as it may have wider implications.”

The study into the science behind fermented rice was started at the hospital by Dr Jeswanth and other doctors after they noticed that pazhayasoru improved the condition of patients with inflammatory bowel disease, inflammation in part or all of the digestive tract, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome in 1997. They found that gut-friendly lactic acid bacteria and microorganisms used to produce fermented foods and used industrially in fermentation to enhance taste/texture of food were abundantly found in pazhaysoru kanji or fermented rice gruel.

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