In 1897, a Dutch army surgeon, Christiaan Eijkman, fed chickens and pigeons strictly polished rice. The birds developed a nervous disease resembling beriberi, a disease common in countries that rely on rice as a large part of their diet. Dr. Eijkman then gave the birds a diet of rice bran and they were cured of this disease. Because rice bran holds the vitamins that had been removed from the polished rice, the birds were cured. This is why it’s very important that we eat whole grain products, because white rice and white flour products are lacking in those vitamins.
The industrial revolution brought modern milling procedures and thousands of people in Asia and Africa developed beriberi. Beriberi causes nerve inflammation that results in a loss of muscle tone in the arms and legs, weakness and rigidity. Before rice is milled, it contains bran and germ, which is high in vitamin B1. It’s wise to eat brown rice, whole wheat flour and always chose whole grains over processed.
Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here: http://www.amazon.com/Acorns-Eatem-How–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973