Wheatgrass consumption is one of the most popular trend nowadays. It works well for those looking to shift towards a healthier lifestyle.
People try and replace the processed foods as well as junk foods in their diets with vegetables, however, it is hard to do so.
Instead, they choose to supplement their diet with greens. The best option for that matter, according to many people nowadays is wheatgrass. The name wheatgrass comes from the name of the plant it is derived from- wheat.
Wheatgrass is the young grass of Triticum aestivum, or the wheat plant.
One can make use of the cotyledons of the young wheat plant in order to yield wheatgrass products.
The products can be anything ranging from wheatgrass juice, pellets, tablets and even capsules. The latter ones are better for those who don’t like the taste of wheatgrass.
The grass has a number of benefits associated with it. It contains a number of vitamins, such as vitamin A, vitamin B, vitamin C which is an antioxidant and has anti-hypertensive properties along with chlorophyll, fiber, minerals such as calcium and sodium. It is definitely a superfood.
However, before taking a decision of incorporating it into the diet for a prolonged period of time, on an everyday basis, some things must be kept in mind.
Possible Side effects of Wheatgrass
Wheatgrass can also have some adverse effects on the body, yield allergic reactions in some people and sometimes, some people may not adapt to it. Read on to know more.
Contaminated wheatgrass may cause heavy metal toxicity
Wheatgrass can prove to be toxic in many cases. Wheatgrass contains minerals such as copper and manganese.
Manganese is required for a number of reasons such as blood sugar regulation, healthy nerves, bone growth, and energy production.
However, manganese in large amounts can prove to be toxic. The thresholds of manganese toxicity for wheatgrass (which happens to be a restoration grass species) have not been established as of yet.
It was found that the levels of manganese in wheatgrass were high as compared to the agronomic species.
Manganese in large amounts can cause neurotoxicity. Neurochemical changes are made in the brain which can lead to insomnia, headaches, memory loss, tremors, and even festinating gait.
Cadmium is another mineral that tends to accumulate in plant tissues. Once consumed, it moves up the food chain and is a major environmental issue. It accumulates in Triticum aestivum as well.
It can be hazardous for human health. It has no physiological role in the human body. It leads to damage of liver tissue.
It accumulates in the kidneys and eventually causes cell death in kidney tissue.
What does this mean? Wheatgrass may contain some minerals n larger amount than required by the body, such as manganese and cadmium, which, if taken in a large amount can lead to neurotoxicity and hepatotoxicity.
Wheatgrass may cause allergies
One can develop allergies from any given substance at any given stage of life.
Sometimes, people develop allergies all of a sudden from a particular food even though they consume it on a regular basis.
Many people are allergic to wheat as well. While some people are allergic to the gluten present in Triticum aestivum, there are a number of allergens that have been identified in wheat.
According to a study published in the journal “Proteomics”, in the year 2015, 12 allergens were identified in seven varieties of wheat with the help of mass spectrometry.
Similarly, an allergen, known as “ω-5 gliadin” (a gluten protein) can lead to an allergic reaction known as “wheat-dependent exercise-induced anaphylaxis (WDEIA)”. This is especially triggered if the consumption of wheat is followed by physical exercise.
This allergic reaction can have effects as adverse as urticaria, shock, hypotension, dyspnoea and even angioedema.
However, since wheatgrass does not contain gluten, such reactions are not triggered by its consumption.
Several different varieties of Triticum aestivum were studied, some were ancient, some modern. Some of the strains triggered heterogeneous responses.
They hence must be considered before consumption as they might exhibit coeliac toxicity and disrupt the lining of the small intestine, prove to be chronic and result in diarrhea, bloating, osteoporosis and even anaemia.
Hence, it may lead to a severe allergic reaction.
Celiac disease occurs due to reactions caused by the consumption of gluten.
According to a study, when people in the United States consumed a gluten-free diet, even those who were not sufferers of celiac disease benefit from the gluten-free diet.
It can hence be deduced that non-celiac wheat sensitivity may be prevalent in the people. People can hence be intolerant as well as sensitive to wheat.
What does this mean? Some varieties of wheat contain allergens that can trigger severe allergic reactions. Hence, the varieties must be tested for allergies before incorporation into the diet.
Impure varieties of wheatgrass may be contaminated with mold
Molds may grow over the wheat plant over the course of time. In order to get rid of fungi, fungicides are used.
Fungicides, when consumed, can be very dangerous to human beings.
Fungi also release toxins, known as mycotoxins. The fungicides and mycotoxins, together, when found on the wheat plant can be very dangerous if consumed.
The mycotoxin found in wheat was Deoxynivalenol and the fungicide was epoxiconazole.
There are toxins known as “Aflatoxins” as well, that are produced by the fungi. Upon treatment with fungicides, there can be a rise in aflatoxin B2.
Apart from these, the other toxins identified were T-2/HT-2 toxin and zearalenone which were most commonly found on the wheat plant. Due to these reasons, even a beneficial crop can render damage to health.
What does this mean? Molds growing on the wheat plant, the toxins released by them as well as the fungicides used to combat them can be toxic to humans.
Wheatgrass juice may cause gastric side effects in some
Consumption of wheatgrass juice has been known to cause nausea.
Since it contains cellulose, a number of sugars, some bacteria (as it is consumed unprocessed) as well as molds, some people may get used to them over time, some people may react negatively to it as the bacteria and molds can sometimes prove to be hazardous as well.
Chemotherapy often comes with the risk of causing myelotoxicity (or the suppression of bone marrow).
Wheatgrass juice was given to patients undergoing chemotherapy in order to prevent such effects due to chemotherapy.
Wheatgrass juice was found to reduce myelotoxicity, however, it resulted in a few side effects, such as the worsening on nausea. Due to this, the consumption of wheatgrass juice was stopped.
What does this mean? Consumption of wheatgrass juice can lead to nausea because of the high content of sugars, cellulose, bacteria and spores present in it.
A single dose of wheatgrass can be from about 3 grams and go up to 6 grams per day.
It could be taken on an empty stomach to derive the maximum benefits and food and drinks must be avoided for an hour after it’s consumption.
The dose can be increased gradually, however one must not exceed 3 doses per day.
Wheatgrass juice must not be consumed in high quantity as it may result in the accumulation of manganese and cadmium
These substances can be very harmful to the brain, nerves as well as liver.
One must test for allergies before consuming it on a regular basis as many people have been found to be wheat sensitive and wheat intolerant, even those on a gluten-free diet.
Fungi and fungicides, as well as the toxins released by the molds can have hazardous effects on the human body and cause chronic damage.
Hence, one must be careful and vigilant while obtaining wheatgrass, the place in which it grows should not be unnatural.
Consumption of the plant infected with bacteria, spores and the fact that is high in cellulose can lead to an elevation in nausea experienced by the patients.
Wheatgrass consumption can yield a number of benefits.
However, care must be taken while consuming it, because it is taken in large amounts, it can lead to manganese and cadmium toxicity.
If taken from an unnatural, unknown and unkempt habitat, it can be infected by molds and bacteria and cause nausea.
It can also lead to allergic reactions. Hence, before making it a part of your everyday diet, a thorough inspection must be carried out.