Health Tips

Is eating raw rice safe?

Rice is eaten throughout the world and especially in the eastern region. The love for rice has made it a staple food. Now rice is loved and eaten globally. The cooking style might be different but every cuisine surely includes delicious rice recipes. Here we will discuss if eating raw rice is good or harmful to our health.

In some cultures, rice is cooked perfectly, while some are overcooked. Many people might think eating overcooked rice is not good for our health. But let me tell you it is much better than eating undercooked rice. To your surprise, there is a percentage of people that have a habit of eating raw rice. Eating poorly cooked or completely raw rice can have several effects on your health. Health benefits of vegan foods can never be ignored.

Why do people eat raw rice?

Most of you might be looking for the reason why some people have this weird habit of eating undercooked rice. Scientifically this habit is known as Pica for uncooked rice (ryzophagia).

Pica in general is a condition associated with the behavior of repetitive eating of non-food items. The non-food item can be different substances (e.g. mud, chalk, lead, rice, etc.) depending upon personal preference and also the availability of the item. Pica is a symptom of iron deficiency. The same is the reason in the case of pica for uncooked food (ryzophagia).

Pica for uncooked rice is found in adults of different ages but more prevalent in pregnant women. Other symptoms associated with this condition are hair-loss, pale-colored skin, nail symptoms, and fatigue. Ryzophagia is more common in non-European countries, the reason being the poor health conditions of the people of underdeveloped and developing countries.

Side effects of eating uncooked rice

As we have already mentioned, there may be several health problems if you eat uncooked rice. Below we are going to mention the major effects of raw rice on our body.

Food poisoning

Many people might be unaware, but eating uncooked rice can have severe health concerns. As our stomach and gastrointestinal tract are responsible for digesting anything that we eat. Eating any raw substance or in this case, raw rice will firstly and directly affect the gastrointestinal tract, causing food poisoning. You should learn to eat foods healthy and properly.

Indigestion and bacterial effect

One obvious reason is that raw rice being hard makes it difficult for the stomach to digest it. Due to which conditions of indigestion are observed. The second reason is raw rice contains the harmful bacteria Bacillus cereus (B. cereus). It is a type of bacteria commonly found in the soil in which rice is grown. The efficient resistive quality of this bacteria that is spore formation makes it difficult to get eliminate from the rice.

Cooking the rice properly and then storing the cooked rice at the proper temperature can only prevent the growth of this bacteria. If undercooked or uncooked rice is consumed, this bacteria starts multiplying and spore formation resists its elimination. Symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain can be observed immediately.

Damage of gut wall

Another way by which uncooked rice affects the body is through the lectins. Lectins are proteins with natural insecticidal properties, found in raw rice. Due to this resistive property, the body is unable to digest it. Passing undigested through the digestive tract can severely damage the gut wall. Another harmful property of lectins is that they alter the body’s normal ability to absorb nutrients, due to which they are also called antinutrients. The only way to get rid of these lectins is by cooking the rice properly on high flame.

Abdominal pain

The underlying reason causing this habitual eating of uncooked rice is iron deficiency. Iron deficiency along with the harmful effects of raw rice cause several health issues. Abdominal pain and indigestion are commonly reported. It also affects the health of your hair and nails causing them to get weak and thin. Skin starts turning pale. The body remains fatigued all the time. The person feels weak and gets exhausted even after a minor physical activity. Dental damage is also common in people eating raw rice regularly. Teeth become weak by chewing hard rice due to which tooth has to be removed or need dental facilitation. The overall human health is affected by consuming uncooked rice.   

Psychological problems

Along with physical health, it also affects psychological health. Addiction of any sort is harmful it negatively impacts the mental capabilities of the addict. The person loses his decision-making capabilities ending up hurting himself physically and psychologically.

Eating raw rice regularly makes a person addicted to this habit. The body keeps craving for the rice and the brain keeps on signaling the person to keep doing it every day. In some people, the condition aggravates so quickly that they start consuming even up to half a kg of rice on regular basis. Physical health conditions can be cured through medicines only but psychological issues are much more complex and difficult to cure completely.

How to stop yourself from eating uncooked rice? 

To cure any health condition you should know its root cause. The main cause behind people urging to eating raw rice is iron deficiency. If the body’s iron requirements are fulfilled this urge can be diminished. Iron is present in green vegetables like spinach and broccoli.

Meat and chicken livers are also rich in iron. Including these foods in the diet can help cure this condition naturally. Doctors may also prescribe special iron supplements to such patients to fulfill the iron needs of the body. This habit of eating uncooked rice affects psychological health as well. Consulting a psychologist can also be required in severe cases.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and other mental issues can also be the cause of the development of this habit. The psychologist may evaluate all these factors to detect the root cause. These can be different for every individual. With proper psychological counseling and therapies, this condition can be cured. Special aversion therapies keep the condition from aggravating.

When occurring in pregnant women, another cause behind this habituation might be hormonal changes. Developing such a harmful habit can affect the health of both mother and the child. Proper consultation and medication from the gynecologist may help in this case.

Related article – 10 Health Benefits of Eating Bananas during Pregnancy


World of Medical Saviours (WOMS) is a website formed by a group of medicos who are embarking to provide facts, tips and knowledge related to health and lifestyle. This website proves to be a great platform for the medical enthusiast and also for those medicos searching to outgrowth their knowledge about the medical field.

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