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Fermented rice can be a godsend for people with IBS

Fermented rice can be a godsend for people with IBS

Apart from soothing the stomach, good bacteria present in fermented rice restore the microbiota imbalance and consuming it in the morning is more beneficial

Consuming fermented rice, especially in the morning, is beneficial for people with IBS as the good bacteria present in it soothes the stomach and restores the microbiota imbalance

For 48-year-old Umadheswari from Chennai, it was the traditional fermented rice that gave her relief from frequent visits to the washroom. She had been suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) for the last seven years which made it impossible to have a peaceful meal.

IBS is a condition that irritates one’s bowel right after consuming food. The condition refers to a group of symptoms that occur together including repeated abdominal pain and changing bowel movements, which can include diarrhea, constipation or both.

Speaking to Happiest Health, Umadheswari says that she felt drained all the time and was dehydrated due to frequent visits to the loo on account of diarrhea. “It was impossible for me to enjoy my food. I tried different diets and took different medication which gave me temporary relief, but nothing more,” she says.

Fermented rice

Eating fermented rice every morning solved Umadheswari’s problem and she could see the change within two months. “I had to constantly worry about what to eat and what to avoid for the last seven years. Now it’s been six months, the loose stools have stopped completely, and I feel more energetic than before. Although I don’t need to continue eating it, I still prefer to,” she says.

Dr S Jeswanth, professor and head of Surgical Gastroenterology Department at Government Stanley Medical College Hospital, Chennai, says that the traditional fermented rice has been a part of their hospital’s diet food for years and is being used for the treatment of many diseases. He is also a part of the research project commissioned by the Tamil Nadu Health Department in their hospital to study the effects of probiotics (present in the fermented rice) in treating inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis (UC).

Sridhar Vembu, CEO of Zoho, recently said that having pazhaiya soru (traditional fermented rice) as breakfast for the past year helped him with his IBS. Through his twitter handle, he expressed that consuming fermented rice helped him to recover from IBS and reduced his allergies.

“Our intestine contains millions of good bacteria that help in digestion as well as improving immunity. When people take antibiotics, chemicals, food colouring agents and so on, their intestinal microbiota is disturbed which can ultimately lead to bowel related issues,” says Dr Jeswanth.

How does fermented rice help?

Dr Jeswanth says, “When we ferment rice, it takes in the necessary microbiota from the environment which contains plenty of good bacteria and probiotics that help our gut. For people with IBS or inflammation, the bacteria from the fermented rice helps in replacing the good bacteria that is lost, thereby restoring the imbalance.”

He adds that the traditional treatment has helped several people to recover from IBS completely with no side effects. “We use this in the treatment of several conditions such as IBS, IBD, Crohn’s disease, regulation of menstrual cycle, during pregnancy and many more,” he adds.

Dr Anurag Shetty, gastroenterologist, KMC Hospital, Mangaluru, says that fermented food is rich in probiotics and consuming it increases the good bacteria in the intestine which helps in regulating the symptoms of IBS. However, fermentation comes at a cost. “Along with good bacteria, bad bacteria can also grow when fermentation is done in an unhygienic way,” he says.

“We ask people to take probiotics such as curd and buttermilk which does not have any side effects unless consumed when sour, leading to gastritis. But with traditional fermented rice, there is a risk of people getting infection and food poisoning which can make their condition worse if hygiene standards are not met,” says Dr Shetty

How to ferment?

Dr Jeswanth says that the cooked rice must be soaked in water and kept in an earthen pot overnight for about eight hours in the summer and 12 hours in the winter. “People can consume it the next morning, either plain or with a side dish as it gives a soothing effect. Instead of water, people can also soak it in buttermilk. It shows better results when consumed in the morning as the first meal of the day,” he says.

Umadheswari said that fermentation can be done in any vessel. However, she witnessed it to be more effective when it is carried out in an earthen pot.   

If consumed every day, it takes about three months to two years to completely recover from IBS, adds Dr Jeswanth.


  • Consuming fermented rice helps to restore the microbiota imbalance in people with IBS.
  • Good bacteria present in fermented rice helps in soothing the stomach and consuming it in the morning is more beneficial.
  • Fermenting rice in an earthen pot yields better results as it neutralises the acidic value of the food and adds natural minerals to it.

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