• Highlights From The 3rd International Symposium on Rice Science in Global Health

    Posted December 10, 2018: by Bill Sardi

    Nov. 29-30, 2018 Kyoto, Japan

    Sponsored by TSUNO FOODS & RICE CO. Wakayama, Japan

    By Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc. USA

    There is discussion in Japan over precisely what in the traditional Japanese diet is responsible for their superlative health and longevity. Rice is a common answer but as a presenter at the 3rd International Symposium on Rice Science in Global Health in Kyoto, Japan, I had the unique opportunity as an outsider to offer my take on that question.

    The confusion at the rice symposium started with statements by presenters, like “rice is a staple food in Japan/Asia and is rich in tocotrienols.” No, tocotrienols (a form of vitamin E) is found in the bran (hull) of rice which is separated to make white rice. Bran, not white rice, is vitamin rich.

    Poster: Symposium

    The fate of this highly industrialized society was established long ago by the fact it has no grasslands, except in Kobe region, to feed cattle. Japan has rice patties on every hillside as it has a history of starvation. While the Japanese are applauded for their consumption of fish and sea vegetables (seaweed), they have no choice. Even today there still isn’t enough food to support the population without imports.

    Countries with grasslands (Scandinavia, North America, New Zealand) consume dairy products and red meat, rich in calcium and iron, and have the highest rates of cancer and heart disease in the world. It is not what is in the Japanese diet, it is what is sparse in the Japanese diet: calcium and iron, that produces unusual health and long life.

    I attest over-mineralization is the chief cause of human aging. During childhood growth all the calcium consumed is directed towards building bone all the iron towards production of new red blood cells whose red pigment, hemoglobin, requires iron. After full childhood growth is achieved (~age 18) the demand for iron and calcium is subsides and humans begin to accumulate minerals, rusting and calcifying as they age. This simple fact seems to have escaped the minds of health authorities. Without an understanding of why humans age, proper measures to slow biological aging and its consequences would remain nebulous.


    Rice Factoid:
    Dr. Motoni Kadowaki of the Nigata Institute of Technology notes the composition of rice bran:

    12.6% protein

    Oil 12.8%

    Crude fiber 7.8%

    Carbohydrate 40%

    Moisture 10.5%

    Ash 14.5%


    Rice - structure, use

    It’s the bran, not the rice

    That is not to say rice doesn’t play a strong role in health promotion, but it would be more appropriate to say rice bran, not just rice, along with soy are primary longevity factors in the Japanese diet. Because both soybeans and rice bran provide a key molecule that controls mineral absorption and utilization – inositol hexa-phosphate or IP6 (aka phytic acid or phytate). Ironically, there is a misdirected effort in Japan to produce low phytate rice which would only be appropriate for growing children and menstruating females.

    There is even a guy online who espouses white rice over brown rice because the white kernel has far less IP6 in it. The stated problem is brown rice may bedifficult to digest because it still contains the germ and bran of the rice hull.

    Rice bran oil has several health promoting fractions including gamma oryzanol, vitamin tocopherols, tocotrienols, IP6, ferulic acid and inositol.

    Historical use of rice bran

    Dr. Teruo Miyazawa, organizing chairman of this 3rd International Rice Symposium in a keynote presentation, says rice bran oil was first used as medicine in Japan in the era 1603-1868 A.D. So Japan had an early start employing bran therapy. And it was Dr. Umetaro Suzuki of Japan who in 1910 first noticed a component of rice bran was effective in preventing beriberi. Dr. Suzuki discovered aberic acid, called thiamin or vitamin B1 in rice bran. It was the very first vitamin to be discovered.

    Concentrated molecules in soups and teas

    I also note that the Japanese diet features soups that simply serve to produce hot water extracts of whatever is added to the cooking pot. Tea is a hot water extract of tea leaves. Miso soup is not only a hot water extract of soybean but it is fermented. Therefore, it is not surprising to learn that rice intake is related to improvement in health through miso soup intake frequency.

    These measures concentrate micronutrients by 1000-fold, from micrograms to milligrams. Fermented rice wine does the same.

    Both soy and bran are loaded with a mineral-controlling molecule called IP6 (inositol hexaphosphate, aka phytate or phytic acid). This is a main reason why there is health and longevity in Japan.

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