Let’s start here ~ Wheatgrass (triticum aestivum Linn) is mainly used as a concentrated source of nutrients. It is many times richer in chlorophyll and iron than even spinach. In fact, it accounts for about 70% of its chemical composition. Chlorophyll is what gives plants their wonderful green pigment and is found in their photosynthetic cells that convert light energy into ATP and other forms of energy needed for biochemical processes. It’s this chlorophyll, that wheatgrass advocates claim, helps rid your body of toxins, strengthens immunity and improves the micro-flora ecology of your digestive tract.
But, there’s more ~ the protein level in Wheatgrass averages 25% and it contains virtually every vitamin known, along with 20 amino acids, including the 8 that are considered essential for human health. I’m not kidding ~ it contains Vitamins A, B1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, and 12; C, E and K, ascorbic acid, dehydrated ascorbic acid, carotene, sulfur, sodium, aluminum, copper, calcium, iodine, phosphorus, magnesium, alkaline earth metal, potassium, selenium, Iron, Zinc, boran and molybdenum. It also contains amino acids such as aspartic acid, threonine, asparagines, glutamine, proline, glycine, arginine, alanine, valine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, tyrosine, phenylalanine, lysine, histidine, tryptopha.
Come-on ~ admit it you’re more than a little impressed!
The above-ground leafy parts, roots, and rhizome are used to make medicine. According to the American Cancer Society, there are proponents of wheatgrass claim that it can help:
So what’s the proof to back these claims?
There is a fair amount of evidence to support Wheatgrass extract’s role in beneficially supporting your biological functions. In spite of claims that a 30ml (1oz) shot of wheatgrass contains as many nutrients as 1kg (2.2lbs) of your best veggies, research shows that, pound for pound, the nutrient content of Wheatgrass juice is nearly equivalent to that of your common vegetables, like kale and broccoli. Would that I could amaze you with an overwhelming number of peer reviewed, double–blind studies touting its benefits, but truthfully so far, the anecdotal reports far outweigh the actual science. For instance, there are many cancer survivors who swear by Wheatgrass.
One preliminary study in the Journal of Experimental and Clinical Cancer Research, suggests that fermented wheatgrass extract “exerts significant anti-tumor activity.” This study further concludes that the extract requires further evaluation as a candidate for clinical combination drug regimens. An Israeli study of 60 patients with breast cancer concluded that Wheatgrass juice may reduce myelotoxicity and chemotherapy dosage.
Recently published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, there was a small study conducted at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, involving 24 patients with ulcerative colitis which concluded that those who took a Wheatgrass supplement improved their conditions versus those who took a placebo.
However, proponents of Wheatgrass believe that because chlorophyll and hemoglobin (a protein that carries oxygen throughout your body) are similar in structure; simply taking wheatgrass juice will enhance a person’s hemoglobin production. But there’s little scientific proof to support this claim. A study published in American Society of Clinical Oncology conducted during a period from January 2003 to December 2005, following 400 solid organ cancer patients in the palliative care unit of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Cancer Research Institute; concluded that Wheatgrass juice was an effective alternative of blood transfusion with a performance improvement status from 50% to 70% (Karnofsky). The journal Indian Pediatrics reported a study which did show that patients with a form of anemia (thalassemia) required fewer blood transfusions after consuming 3½ ounces of Wheatgrass daily, but this could be through its support of other biologic functions. Likewise, there is no evidence to suggest that wheatgrass helps prevent high blood pressure, tooth decay, infection or anemia.
So, while it absolutely contributes towards your recommended daily intake of 5 servings of fruits and veggies ~ sorry, that single shot of Wheatgrass does NOT count as 1 of your 5 for the day.Best Health,
~Jeanne Ricks, CHC
Identity Theft vs. Nutrient Theft
Sure we’ve all heard the discouraging reports about Identity Theft. Some 15 million residents in the US have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling upwards of $50 billion. In fact, the Bureau of Justice places the number as high as approximately 7% of all citizens over the age of 16, have their identities misused with each instance resulting in approximately $3,500 in losses.
Grim indeed BUT, a staggering 85% of Americans are suffering from Nutrient Theft daily!
So you’ve loaded up your plate with a variety of brightly colored, organic, farm-fresh veggies, nibbled on raw organic nuts or seeds, had a serving of farm-raised salmon, 8 glasses of filtered water, and complimented all this with a wonderful multi-vitamin, Omega-3 oil, and topped it all off with some additional Vitamin C and D3 ~ yet your body absorbs less than a quarter of all of this nutritional goodness! What’s going on? Who is stealing all the positive benefits that you've earned through all of your good behavior?
Who is the Villain? One word ~ Absorption!
Serving-up the right foods and dietary compliments are not the end of the nutritional story. Simply because the nutrient rich goodies make it into your stomach doesn’t mean that your body will actually be able to use them as planned.
“Whether they’re from food or supplements, nutrients aren’t technically in your body until they’ve been absorbed,” explains Stella Volpe, PhD, RD, Associate Professor of Nursing and Miriam Stirl Term Endowed Chair in Nutrition at Drexel University. “Until absorption, things are just passing through.”
60% percent of the US adult population will experience some type of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) within a 12 month period and 20 to 30 percent will have weekly symptoms. As you read this, approximately seven million people in the United States have some symptoms of GERD. The statistics for Irritable Bowel Syndrome are just a little better. Studies estimate IBS affects 20 percent of the adult population, with most studies ranging from 10 to 15 percent. IBS affects about twice as many women as men and is most often found in people younger than age 45. Here’s the tricky part, only 5 to 7 percent of the adult population has been actually diagnosed with the condition.
But those are the extreme causes of poor nutrient absorption. There are other more common, everyday thieves robbing you of valuable nutrients. Let’s look at 5 of these thieves:
1. Prescription Drugs: Antibiotics are #1 on the list. They non-selectively destroy both “bad” bacteria and also the “good” bacteria in your digestive system that plays a central role in your digestion and absorption of vitamins and minerals. Your other medications themselves can also bind with nutrients and inhibit their absorption. For example, acid-reducing drugs impact your absorption of Vitamin B12. On the other side of this, certain nutrient-rich foods and dietary supplements will interfere with the effectiveness of your medications.
2. Age: As you mature, your body just naturally becomes less capable of actually extracting and absorbing nutrients from foods that you eat, as well as supplements that you take.
3. Caffeine: In fact can promote the excretion of vitamins and minerals and negatively affects hormonal secretions. It’s important to hold your consumption of caffeine to 1 or 2 cups of coffee or tea per day. Also try to have it between meals so that it has less direct effect on nutrient absorption via your meal. In high amounts, the tannins (a type of plant compound) found in caffeine can also prevent your absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, B-vitamins and Vitamin D contributing to bone loss.
4. Alcohol: There are a number of ways that alcohol affects the absorption of nutrients. It speeds-up the breakdown of pills and capsules before they reach your small intestine where absorption happens. That’s not all; it damages the cells in your stomach and intestine which interferes with just normal digestion, while also interfering with the release of important digestive enzymes to break down foods. Alcohol is known to act as a diuretic, which promotes excretion of stored minerals such as calcium and magnesium. Avoid alcohol within four hours of taking supplements, in order to reduce some of alcohol’s negative impact on nutrient absorption.
5. Stress: It should come as no surprise to anyone that the constant stresses of your daily life take a toll not only on your body, but on your digestion depleting nutrient stores and preventing absorption.
So the bottom line as I tell my clients is that you must take care of your digestion. Statistically speaking most people reading this blog are currently having some type of digestive issue. Stop ignoring it. Stop dulling its affects with over-the-counter aids that merely delay and potentially worsen the issue. Take the time to actively begin the steps necessary to restore your digestion. This is the only way to optimize your health.
Last but, not least ALWAYS consult your physician or other health professional before implementing ANY supplementation. The information here is not in any way intended as a recommendation.
Jeanne Ricks, CHC