I was eating rice two to three times a day. Rice is delicious, inexpensive, and easy to cook and a big part of the vegetarian diet I was trying to follow. After a couple of weeks on my new eating plan, I began to feel moody and tired. I figured it was because I had cut back too much on protein. Then I started to notice my hair was dry, brittle and falling out by the handful. Every time I washed my hair it got thinner and thinner. I had expected to feel better with my new health plan, not worse.
One day I made a connection, I had started losing my hair at the same time that I had started eating more rice. I began to do some research and found rice has high levels of arsenic. Arsenic is highly toxic and I was being slowly poisoned. One of the results of arsenic poisoning is hair loss.
Arsenic is naturally found in the earth’s crust and is absorbed by rice plants in the fields. It is in chemicals that were once used in farming and it is in the water used to flood rice fields. White rice has less arsenic than brown rice because the husk stays on brown rice and the husk absorbs the arsenic. Because arsenic is naturally in the soil there is arsenic in organic rice, it is also found in high levels in seafood, mushrooms, and poultry, and low levels in the air and in some water sources.
Changing the way we cook rice may make a difference in arsenic levels we consume. Experts advise rinsing rice before cooking and discarding the water immediately after cooking and if possible rinsing the rice again after it's cooked. https://sites.dartmouth.edu/arsenicandyou/arsenic-in-rice-and-rice-products
Researchers have found that folic acid supplements may help lower the risks of over-exposure to arsenic. National Institute of Environmental Health Science www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/arsenic relates high arsenic levels can cause problems with the nervous system, the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system, liver, kidney, and bladder functions. As it is naturally occurring, we can't get arsenic completely out of our food and water.
Rice flour is widely used in gluten-free products as a replacement for wheat flour. My husband and I try to be gluten-free and we will occasionally still have rice products. We try to eat other grains, nuts fresh fruits, and vegetables more often and if we do eat rice we follow the guidelines for rinsing and cooking.
After a few months of changing my diet and not consuming so much rice, I noticed my hair was growing back. It has been over a year now and I am happy to say that my hair if back to normal, it's long and naturally curly again and feels healthier than ever.
I wrote this article based on personal experience, this is for information only and not meant to replace medical advice. This is not a sponsored or promotional article. For more information go to https://www.fda.gov/food/cfsan-risk-safety-assessments/arsenic-rice-and-rice-products-risk-assessment