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Grains Essential for Immune System


We are always persuaded by our elders to eat hand pound rice and hand ground wheat rather than eating polished rice. But we carry on eating the machine-polished cereals as they can be stored for a longer time. The fact is that machine-polishing removes the bran that surrounds the seed containing the pericarp. Bran also has an ‘aleurone layer’ which contains small amounts of vital nutrients for instance vitamins, iron, zinc etc.


These ‘micronutrients’ are not present in machine-polished grains which in turn leads to “hidden hunger”. United Nation agencies stated that hidden hunger affects one in every three children worldwide. This leads to insufficient physical growth and hampers development of the brain.


In the 1970s Dr. Ramalingaswami of ICMR started a programme in India. As per this programme in every six months children were administered large amounts of vitamin A. This was done to help them beat “night blindness”.


Dr. Maharaj Krishan Bhan a member of AIIMS and Department of Biotechnology in New Delhi developed a salt mixture which contains micronutrients zinc and iron, to be given to children suffering from diarrhea and dehydration.


If rice and wheat full of micronutrients are included in the daily diet there will be no need of such supplements. To address this concern Institute of Rice Research, led by Dr. Vemuri Ravindra Babu has successfully found a variety of rice DRR Dhan 45. In this variety the zinc and other content are not lost upon polishing. As a result, rice can be kept for a long time and can be used. They also want to develop similar varieties of wheat, maize and millets which are rich in zinc and other essential nutrients.