Programs and Activities

Why brown rice is good

The Manila Times, October 4, 2003

It may not be as popular as the white variety, but brown rice could work wonders on your health—especially to nursing mothers.

Brown rice, aside from having lots of fiber, scores high for its wealth of nutrients found in its outer bran layer—the portion stripped off in the milling process where brown rice becomes white rice. It contains carbohydrates, oils, B vitamins and minerals, which are certainly pluses for breastfeeding moms who require ample nutrition to nourish themselves and their infants.

As a nursing mother needs adequate caloric intake for breastfeeding, brown rice may be added to her diet to supply the extra 500 calories of food needed each day during the first six months after giving birth. Brown rice takes its rightful place among the essential components of a good nursing diet or healthy options that include fresh fruits and vegetables in season, green salads, nutritional yeast, fish or poultry, eggs, whole grain breads and crackers, honey, lentils and beans, olive oil, plus lots of liquids.

"Brown rice may be mixed with vegetables, making it even more nutri­tious," suggests Nona Andaya-Castillo of Birthing, Breastfeeding & Beyond, a movement that aims to promote earth-friendly parenting and instill among pregnant and nursing moms the vital role that good nutrition plays in the health of both mother and child.

She also cited another way of preparing brown rice, by adding pandan, to fortify the rice meal while enhancing its flavor. Interestingly, testimonies of mothers who make brown rice part of their diet and raise babies who turn out vigorous or not sickly point to how the indigenous food is worth more than passing attention.

Another benefit of eating brown rice is relief from constipation. Since pregnant and nursing moms often suffer from irregular bowl move-ment, the abundance of insoluble fiber in brown rice eases chronic constipation. In its list of brown rice health benefits, states: "Switching from refined grains to whole grains (e.g., from white rice to brown rice) often helps relieve constipation."

Aside from daily intake of healthy fiber, other useful reminders for nursing moms include increasing water intake to about one to two liters of water daily. Cola, coffee, and tea, whose caffeine is transmitted through the breast milk to the baby and leads to the latter’s irritability, wakefulness, diarrhea or an overstimulated nervous system, should be avoided.

Intake of food tested to have allergic or sensitive reactions to the mother, and which may cause bowel changes or increase colic in the baby are also discouraged. Other food items nursing moms should avoid are those with strong-tasting spices, such as garlic, curry and onions, as these may change the taste of breast milk. It is also best to avoid artificial coloring, preservatives and food additives that may have more than physi-cal repercussions on children.