Why White Rice Can Help With An Upset Stomach

There's nothing worse than a stomach virus. It doesn't take long for nausea and other awful symptoms to lay you low and take you from enjoying daily activities. Or, worse yet, a bout with food poisoning that could quickly land you in the hospital if you're not careful. The gastrointestinal symptoms of these two conditions can be pretty brutal.

Most people who have experienced either of these ailments have heard about the BRAT diet — bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast — advised by doctors everywhere for years to ease stomach distress (per Piedmont). The advice may be old, but it's not an old wives' tale. There's science behind this recommendation. While it won't cure a stomach bug or food poisoning, it can help alleviate many of its worst symptoms, allowing you to rest instead of running to the bathroom every ten minutes.

Do you know why the BRAT diet works? Let's look at one component of this age-old cure, plain, white rice, and how it can help with an upset stomach.

The power of plain rice

Plain rice — hold the butter and seasonings — is known for slowing down the body's digestive system. This effect works to your advantage if you have diarrhea. White rice is easily digestible, and adding a little salt will help your body hold onto water which is the best way to avoid getting dehydrated.

According to Healthline, if you're not feeling up to eating solid foods, rice water can also get diarrhea under control quickly. You can try this by boiling one cup of rice in two cups of water for ten minutes, straining the rice into a large glass, and drinking the rice water. This method is the easiest way to avoid dehydration, a genuine concern when you're down with a stomach bug.

We often reach for a bottle of ginger ale to ease nausea, and with good reason. Like rice, ginger is well-known as a remedy to alleviate stomach distress, so combine the two by adding fresh ginger to your rice or rice water for fast relief.

No time for keto but you can try take-out

For those who may follow it, we have bad news because this is no time to stick to a keto diet. Brown rice may be higher in nutrients than white rice, but it's also more difficult for your body to digest, making an unhappy tummy even unhappier (per WebMD). Stick to plain white rice when you're feeling sour stomach symptoms, but start introducing more foods into your diet as soon as you begin to feel better. The foods in the BRAT regimen are very effective for easing an upset stomach but are not very nutritious, so you'll be missing many essential nutrients found in a balanced diet if you stick to the diet for longer than necessary.

If you're too sick to make rice, call your favorite food delivery service or have a friend pick up a pint of plain white rice (no, not fried) from your neighborhood Chinese take-out restaurant. Everyone knows that food always tastes better when someone else makes it anyway.