Pakhala is a unique and traditional food of Odisha. The rice at night is placed in the clay pot and dipped with water. The next day, when this stale rice is lightly fermented, it becomes Odisha’s special dish ‘Pakhala’. Pakhala is considered digestible and nutritious in the summer, humid season and have been found to boost immunity power.
In recent times, the West has begun to accept and even search for various health benefits of various foods and spices in the Indian subcontinent.
To give some examples: Turmeric milk (popularly as turmeric milk among Indians) was designated as turmeric smoothie by Americans, then came the craze for using coconut oil (again, nothing new as it is usually for cooking in South India).
And, they are slowly moving towards another common food practice in India: fermented rice porridge. The American Nutrition Association says Pakhala bhat (soaked rice) is the best for the breakfast.
How Pakhala Improve Epithelial Lining and Boost Immunity?
Regular intake of fermented rice or Pakhala can boost immunity power by improving your gut health.
Good bacteria in your gut help in proper digestion, absorption, produce various metabolites such as short-chain fatty acids (butyrate) that have a positive effect on your epithelial lining of the gastrointestinal tract and also help to boost immunity power.(1)
A preliminary study conducted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Bhubaneswar has found that, fermented rice or ‘Pakhala’ contains a molecule that helps to boost immunity power.
Balmurugan Ramdas, head of the institute of Centre of Excellence for Clinical Microbiome Research, who has been studying since 2019, cited preliminary research and said Pakhala contains short-chain fatty acids known to improve gut health and boost immunity power.(2)
Other Health Benefits of Pakhala.
You will be surprised to know that stale rice is very beneficial for the health. A research conducted by Assam Agriculture University has revealed that soaking stale rice overnight in water (fermentation) is very beneficial for the health.(3)
When stale rice is kept overnight in a clay pot, it has fermentation till the next morning. After that, this rice can give many health benefits. Some of the points are given below.
1. Constipation and Ulcers.
Pakhala is rich in fibre, which can help in relieving problems like constipation. It also contains energy. Eating this during breakfast not only provides you freshness but eating this two or three days can prevent the diseases like ulcers.
2. Reduce Body Temperature.
Since rice is a natural cooling. Eating Pakhala in the morning can prevent harmful stomach ailments and reduce body temperature and keeps you cool during summer season.
3. Weight Loss.
According to the research by the American Chemical Society, Pakhala can help you to stay slim. Because rice cools down considerably overnight and reduces 60% calories. In 100 grams of Pakhala, 130 calories are lost and only 52 calories are left.
4. Reduce Fatigue.
When your microbiome is healthy, more nutrients are available throughout your body, so it is understandable that fermented foods like fermented rice or Pakhala can reduce fatigue by suppling enough nutrients to the body.
Eating fermented brown rice can also reduce fatigue, as it contains fermented rice husk. A study on animal found that, fermented rice husk also improves stamina.(4)
Yes it may be surprising, but the fermentation process is said to increase the nutritional value of rice.
For example, soaking rice overnight for about 12 hours increases the amount of iron 21 times more than regular cooked rice, as explains in Spoon University.
For example, after 12 hours of fermentation of 100 grams of rice, the availability of iron changed from 3.4 mg to 73.91 mg (2073%).
6. Cure Various Health Problems.
According to a report by deccan chronicle, fermented brown rice produces vitamin B12, which helps prevent fatigue.
A mixture of fermented rice water is also given to the sick as it helps in early recovery due to its nutritional value. Fermented rice can also cure vitamin B ulcers present in them.
7. Promote Healthy Bacteria.
During fermentation process, many microorganisms are produced. In turn, these microorganisms balance the pH level in the stomach and promote good gut bacteria.
These bacteria helps in bowel movements and since it also acts as a natural laxative, it is good for people suffering from constipation. Potassium present in fermented rice reduces blood pressure.
8. Strengthen Bones.
Magnesium and selenium present in fermented brown rice or Pakhala strengthen the bones. Since it is light on the stomach and digestive system, it also helps in eliminating ulcers.
9. Reduce Colitis.
Colitis is an autoimmune condition that results in inflammation of the digestive system and increases the risk of many other diseases.
We have long known that the microbiome plays an important role in the health of the colon and can help to prevent or reduce the symptoms of inflammatory diseases when consumed by probiotic foods.
The use of fermented rice husk as a source of probiotics reduces the symptoms of colitis by increasing short-chain fatty acids and reducing inflammation in preliminary research.(5)
While more research is required about rice fermented in colitis, fermented foods are generally good for colon health, so there is no need to wait for more research to enjoy this healthy diet.
10. Iron Rich.
Fermentation process increases the availability of many nutrients like calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.
What surprised the most was that, fermenting the rice for only 12 hours increases the iron content by 21 times as compared to the normal cooked rice.
11. Reduce Cholesterol.
Body-friendly bacteria in fermented rice or Pakhala play an important role in lowering cholesterol, improving contractions, and preventing diarrhea.
Regular intake of fermented rice also helps in removing lactose intolerance. Fermented rice has the property of suppressing cancer of colon, liver, stomach, bladder and food system.(6),(7)
12. Provide Better sleep.
Studies have also shown that eating fermented rice regularly reduces fatigue due to high vitamin B12 content.(8) It is a wondrous meal for sleep-deprived college students, who are completely dependent on caffeine for energy.
13. Provide Healthy Skin And Hair.
According to the study Pakhala rice is rich in micronutrients and minerals, such as iron, potassium and calcium. Daily consumption keep you healthy and provide you a young and shiny look.
Some researchers also claim that fermented or Pakhala rice produces collagen, which is essential to maintain skin elasticity.
It is also said that fermented rice water can act as a natural conditioner for hair. Since water is rich in vitamin E and ferulic acid, it acts as an important antioxidant.
15. Good For Lactating Mothers.
The maiden mother who suffers from low milk secretion problem, fermented rice helps to secrete more milk and is a good source of lactic acid.
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15. Promote Antioxidants and Improve Digestion.
Fermented rice increases the antioxidant contains of the grain, makes protein more digestible and even helps to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria within the grain.
After fermentation, rice is enriched with metabolites such as various antimicrobials, antioxidants, phenolics, vitamin E, phytosterol, linoleic acid, anthocyanin and proanthocyanin etc.(9)
16. Reduce Toxins.
According to a research review published by Food Science and Nutrition (10), a very interesting fact about fermentation is that, it can also break down a toxin called aflatoxin in cereals.
By soaking and fermenting rice, you can also reduce the possibility that it is contaminated with arsenic as well.
17. Reduce Stress.
Stress and anxiety affects our mind and our body if we do not learn the technique of reducing the root causes.
Many research papers show probiotic foods helps to reduce mood disorders, including stress and anxiety as well as depression.
Probiotic-rich foods that are fermented are effective for being stress-reliever and fermented rice is no exception. A recent study on a mice found that, fermented rice can effectively reduce stress level. (11)
18. Reduce Cancer.
The risk of digestive cancer in young adults is increasing day by day, and a potential culprit are processed foods.
Fermented foods are associated with many health benefits, and according to preliminary research, it can also reduce the risk of colons cancer.
However, according to a study on animal it has proved that consumption of fermented rice helped to reduce colon cancer, but more research is needed in humans to confirm these findings. (12)
Still, all signs point to the fact that fermented rice is healthy for your stomach, so feel free to enjoy it.
19. Reduce Heart Disease.
Intestine is also associated with the health of the heart and every other part of the body.
Fermented foods contain healthy bacteria that send signal throughout the body and even help to reduce inflammation in the liver.
By doing so, the body also handles cholesterol more effectively. And by reducing stress and improving nutrition, the level of blood pressure can also improve.
According to the research by BMC Supplements and Alternative Medicines, it has proved that, by lowering blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels, the husk of fermented rice can reduce the risk of heart disease. (13)
20. Control Diabetes.
Apart from that, consumption of fermented foods can also reduce the risk of diabetes as the fermentation process reduces the glucose level as compared to standard rice.
Recipe To Boost Immunity Power with Pakhala.
Cooking rice in the afternoon is a common thing (excess water is drained out). Once the rice cools down at room temperature, it is again soaked in water and placed in a clay pot.
It is left at room temperature overnight. By the next morning, you will have fermented rice, which can consume in breakfast. Traditionally, it is consume with side dishes, raw onions or green chillies.
Some people like to draw extra water and eat it with a light sprinkling of yogurt and salt. The American Nutrition Association has also acknowledged its various health benefits.
Fermented rice or Pakhala is one of the best traditional food in a regular Indian diet. It is healthy for most people. So feel free to include Pakhala as per your tradition to boost immunity power.
Fix your dose of natural probiotic and prebiotic while ensuring fermented rice in your daily diet. So, start taking Pakhala seriously from today.
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- In vitro fermentation of rice bran combined with Lactobacillus acidophilus 14 150B or Bifidobacterium longum 05 by the canine faecal microbiota; https://academic.oup.com/femsec/article/75/3/365/494398
- Pakhala boosts immunity, finds city AIIMS Study; https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhubaneswar/pakhala-boosts-immunity-finds-city-aiims-study/articleshow/84227251.cms
- Fermentation Reduces Anti-Nutritional Content and Increases Mineral Availability in Poita bhat; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/303767394_Fermentation_Reduces_Anti-Nutritional_Content_and_Increases_Mineral_Availability_in_Poita_bhat
- Anti-stress and anti-fatigue effect of fermented rice bran; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12410560/
- Dietary Supplementation of Fermented Rice Bran Effectively Alleviates Dextran Sodium Sulfate-Induced Colitis in Mice; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28703759/
- Chemopreventive Properties of Dietary Rice Bran: Current Status and Future Prospects; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3648746/
- Scientific Evidence of Rice By-Products for Cancer Prevention: Chemopreventive Properties of Waste Products from Rice Milling on Carcinogenesis In Vitro and In Vivo; https://www.hindawi.com/journals/bmri/2017/9017902/
- Assessment of nutritional value of overnight soaked cooked rice over unsoaked cooked rice; https://www.researchgate.net/publication/328075567_Assessment_of_nutritional_value_of_overnight_soaked_cooked_rice_over_unsoaked_cooked_rice
- Rice Bran Fermented with Saccharomyces boulardii Generates Novel Metabolite Profiles with Bioactivity; https://pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/jf1038103
- Fermentation and germination improve nutritional value of cereals and legumes through activation of endogenous enzymes; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6261201/
- Anti-stress and anti-fatigue effect of fermented rice bran; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12410560/
- Preventive effect of fermented brown rice and rice bran against colon carcinogenesis in male F344 rats; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12066215/
- Fermented rice bran supplementation mitigates metabolic syndrome in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5100310/