Arsenic in Rice?

Arsenic in Rice?   

As many of our clients and patients move to a Gluten Free diet – they tend to rely on other grains. Despite our recommendations not to lean on Gluten Free products (ie: change your gluten bread, pasta and cereal for a GF version) because rice is a high glycemic food.

For those people who are trying to lose weight or struggle with abnormal glucose or insulin levels, and those with family history of heart disease this is a poor choice., it’s highly likely that they will have a higher levels of rice in their diets. For the rest of us, are rice exchanges ok?? Well, that’s not a yes or no answer.

You may or may not have heard about Arsenic in rice?

This report & 3 min video is great, The video and story with it explains about the arsenic as well as how to decrease exposure. It’s not new news that arsenic is a food contaminant in almost all plant foods and a particularly potent one in rice because the plant absorbs arsenic from the ground more readily than other plant foods.

Why is rice higher in arsenic??

Rice may be planted in fields that were previously sprayed with arsenic-containing pesticides. The arsenic thus can remain in the soil, but more importantly, this plant also hasa special skill of pulling the arsenic into the rice. Of course, this is great discussion for purchasing foods from soil less contaminated with pesticides. If you are going to buy and eat U.S. Rice- Calfornia rice is the way to go. Although it’s possible for our bodies to detoxify arsenic we need to keep our livers healthy. Functional Medicine focuses on optimal function in our entire body and detoxification (and ensuring low toxic load) is part of this.

It’s important to ensure that we aren’t anchoring our diet with “gluten free” products made with rice, especially domestically-raised rice. And as the article and video states; rice sourced from California is by far the least contaminated (vs. southern state); more studies of this are underway. And for our detox cleansers … a great reminder of WHY we cleanse regularly.

What about protein powders?

A common ‘go-to’ with our patients with gluten and dairy removal is to go to a rice based protein powder… so we recommend you ensure you are using one that is tested for arsenic (and other heavy metal) levels (Metagenics & Thorne on our supplements page test for these). Sadly, there are minimal FDA standard on minimum arsenic content in food. The closest thing we have found is the California standard which mandates very aggressive standards on most exposures to humans.

And Symptoms?

Low levels of arsenic can cause stomach aches, headaches and diarrhea. Some may also experience low red or white blood cells (which can cause fatigue), hair loss, itchy/dry skin, abnormal heart rhythm, bruising, and ‘pins and needles’ nerve sensations in hands and feet.

You can reduce the arsenic content by 40%:

In our houses, we soak the rice for a few hours in plenty of water with a splash of vinegar. Then rinse it very thoroughly. Heat water for cooking until it boils but use about three times as much water as you need. About ½ way through the cooking time, stir the pot well and pour off the extra water. This helps to free and get rid of contaminants before the final liquid absorption. And PLEASE DO NOT cook rice in plastic – this is adding another hormone altering chemical known as BPA to your food.

Detoxing arsenic:

Our bodies do export rice if it works optimally…a great reinforcement for why we want to make sure we support our liver’s detoxification ability on a regular basis with lots of water, cruciferous veggies (e.g. broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, dark greens), B vitamins and once or twice yearly detox cleanse. Ideally, our body naturally handles, processes, and excretes the wide variety of toxins that we encounter daily in modern life.

All that said… We need very little (to no) grains if we are getting a range of healthy WHOLE foods through veggies, high quality meants, legumes and fruit. Not need to ‘replace’ with GF foods, but should you opt to do this, one or less servings a day is a great minimum for those who detoxify well and regularly.
Bon ap-e-rice-tite!

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