The happy grain: how germinated brown rice can improve mental and physical well-being

Sprouted brown rice has a long tradition in Asia as a nutritious staple of the diet yet is just now becoming known in the West. During the germination of brown rice, important nutrients are enhanced along with many health supporting benefits.

Throughout the world, grains have historically been either soaked, sprouted, or fermented to improve digestibility. Traditionally, grains have been stored in the open air and exposed to the elements which naturally encouraged germination. With the introduction of industrial farming and storage, this vital step of sprouting has been eliminated, thus creating a very different food from that of our ancestors. Consuming unsprouted grains can lead to digestive difficulties, inflammation, allergic reactions, and poor absorption of nutrients. Through the process of germination, phytic acid is neutralized while improving the nutritional content and digestibility.

Sprouted brown rice is of particular interest since it is an incredible source of nutrients and is easy to digest. With germination, vitamin E, lysine and magnesium, along with vitamins B6 and B12, are increased substantially. Bio-available forms of protein and fiber also are heightened. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant while the amino acid L- lysine is anti-inflammatory and helps in collagen formation. Magnesium is beneficial for calcium absorption and helps maintain healthy bodily nerves and muscles. B vitamins ease stress and anxiety, calm PMS symptoms, and support cardiovascular health.

Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) levels are increased ten-fold during the germination process of brown rice. GABA encourages emotional and mental well-being. This has positive implications for those suffering from nervous disorders such as depression, insomnia and anxiety, as well as seizures.

As stated by Michael T. Murray, ND:

"Research has shown that GABA increases the production of alpha brain waves (a state often achieved by meditation, characterized by being relaxed with greater mental focus and mental alertness) and reduces beta waves (associated with nervousness, scattered thoughts, and hyperactivity)."

GABA from natural sources is the key as synthetic forms were found to be ineffective in several studies.

Sprouting is easy to do. Use only short, medium grain brown rice or brown basmati. Wehani rice is also a good choice. Do not use white or wild rice as they will not germinate.

  1. Soak rice with plenty of water for 12-18 hours.
  2. Drain rice and pour into a mesh strainer. Rinse well.
  3. Place strainer over a bowl, cover with a damp, clean dishtowel, and let sit out of direct sunlight.
  4. Rinse well every 12 hours.
  5. Between 24 and 48 hours, small sprouts will appear. Use within a week and refrigerate any unused sprouts.
  6. Cook as one would regular rice with slightly less water (2 cups water for every 1 1/2 cups sprouted rice).

Germinated brown rice can also be purchased at health food stores and natural grocers. There is even a rice cooker with a 'GABA' feature that will automatically sprout the rice before cooking.

Whether store bought or made at home, enrich your life with germinated brown rice. As a powerful ally to vitality, this versatile grain encourages a healthy body, clear mind, and emotional balance.

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About the author

Carolanne believes if we want to see change in the world, we need to be the change. As a nutritionist, natural foods chef and wellness coach, she has encouraged others to embrace a healthy lifestyle of green living for over 13 years. Through ThriveLiving she looks forward to connecting with other like-minded people who share a similar vision. 

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