FIT Webqoof: Is Curd Rice Good for the Brain?
According to a message doing the rounds, curd rice is a great and only source of tryptophan, an amino acid great for the brain health.
According to a message doing the rounds, curd rice is a great and only source of tryptophan, an amino acid great for the brain health.(Photo: FIT/Aroop Mishra)

FIT Webqoof: Is Curd Rice Good for the Brain?

Don’t fall for fake news, <a href="https://fit.thequint.com/fit-webqoof">click here</a> to check out <b>Quint Fit</b>’s WebQoof stories.
Don’t fall for fake news, click here to check out Quint Fit’s WebQoof stories.

Social media is full of updates about curd rice and the presence of tryptophan in it. It’s essentially an amino acid which is not sythesized by the human body. This means it can only be obtained from dietary sources.

In the series of fake health messages that are always doing the rounds of the virtual realm, the latest claims curd rice, a staple of southern Indian cuisine, as being a good and ONLY source of tryptophan.

The Claim

The message that we received reads as follows:

*Curd Rice* 🍚 is the only Indian food which can release a chemical called Tryptophan in the Brain.

Indians alone have curd as curd. But the western world takes it as Yogurt, which has sugar too. Sugar will not calm your brain, but increases the glucose level and will make you more restless. Sugar is dangerous for the balance of neural activity as it triggers hyperactivity.

But Curd Rice is the only food which can release Tryptophan in the Brain, which calms down and brings a cool thinking, your neurons recharging with a mild rest because of Tryptophan. (In Sanskrit there's word for this chemical, known as Thrupthophan, Thrupthi means Satisfaction).

Curd Rice, is a symbol for Tamil brahmins especially and Tamilians in general, as it is the Best Brain Food which activates the Brain in a balanced manner for a Tropical climate !

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People across various platforms are talking about curd rice and tryptophan. Here are some sample posts:

People across various platforms are talking about rice (or particularly curd rice) and tryptophan.
People across various platforms are talking about rice (or particularly curd rice) and tryptophan.
(Screenshot Courtesy: Facebook)
People across various platforms are talking about rice (or particularly curd rice) and tryptophan.
People across various platforms are talking about rice (or particularly curd rice) and tryptophan.
(Screenshot Courtesy: Twitter)

True or False?

Partly true, partly false: Tryptophan is great for the brain health and a good mood - that bit is true. But curd rice is NOT the only source of it. In fact, according to nutritionist Rupali Datta, rice doesn’t even contain tryptophan.

Yes, it’s true that milk and its various versions contain tryptophan, but I have not stumbled across any studies that say the same about rice.
Rupali Datta

However, it truly is a great combination for the brain health, she adds, both according to Ayurveda and allopathy.

Tryptophan IS Good for the Brain

A chemical that directly affects the brain and your mood is serotonin, and tryptophan is what helps the body produce more serotonin.
A chemical that directly affects the brain and your mood is serotonin, and tryptophan is what helps the body produce more serotonin.
(Photo: iStockphoto)

A chemical that directly affects the brain and your mood is serotonin, and tryptophan is what helps the body produce more serotonin, according to this report. While it’s hard to make fixed conclusions about many aspects of the brain, serotonin is also associated with a good mood. Subsequently, low levels of it has been associated with mental illness in the form of depression and other disorders.

Thus, the claim that it “calms (you) down and brings a cool thinking” is true.

No, Curd Rice is NOT the Only Source of Tryptophan

A good source of tryptophan are food items that are rich in protein. Additionally, it helps if foods containing tryptophan are eaten with carbohydrates, which increases its efficacy. This is because eating carbohydrates leads to the production of insulin in the body. This, in turn, directs other amino acids to body muscles, while tryptophan remains untouched, according to this report.

This also explains why curd and rice (carbohydrates) is a good idea. But once again, rice doesn’t contain tryptophan, and this combination is not the only source of tryptophan.

Other food items that are rich in tryptophan include eggs, poultry, dairy, nuts and seeds, soy and salmon.

Role of the Gut

“Just protecting your gut will help your body a lot in a tropical climate.”
“Just protecting your gut will help your body a lot in a tropical climate.”
(Photo: iStockphoto)

Rupali says that curd rice in itself is not only a wonderful meal for the summer, but also for any time of the year. This is particularly true in a tropical country like India.

Germs are more active in the heat, and 70 percent of your immunity is in the gut. Just protecting your gut will help your body a lot in a tropical climate. This is where curd is useful because it’s a probiotic which keeps the intestine as well as the gut flora healthy. Besides, curd is a fermented food item which means it’s healthier than the original food item (milk).
Rupali Datta

A significant amount of serotonin is produced in the gut, along with the brain, points out this report. This is why it further helps to have a healthy gut. Curd, therefore, becomes not only a great source of tryptophan, but also keeps the gut healthy.

However, remember, emphasises Rupali, that 80 percent of what you hear about health by way of WhatsApp forwards and unverified health websites is untrue.

(Not convinced of a post or information you came across online and want it verified? Send us the details on WhatsApp at 9910181818, or e-mail it to us at webqoof@thequint.com and we'll fact-check it for you. You can also read all our fact-checked stories here.)

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