Diabetes is a metabolic disorder characterized by inadequate production of insulin. Insulin is a hormone produced by pancreas and has a key role in controlling blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is also frequently associated with excess weight and high blood levels of fats. Wheat grass, which is scientifically known as Triticum aestivum, is a herb from the wheat family. Wheat grass is a natural source of vitamins A, C, E, K and B complex and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, selenium, amino acids and chlorophyll. The juice from wheat grass leaves usually are consumed in the raw form, and done so by many, as a medicinal practice.
Because wheatgrass is rich in healthy nutrients, this herb has been proposed for improving a variety of health conditions, from boosting immune system and antibacterial activity to colon detoxification, diabetes and cancer. However clinical studies are needed to confirm these health benefits.
In December 2009, a study was published in the Journal of Herbal Medicine and Toxicology , stating that wheatgrass has a definite role in improving glucose and lipids levels and can effectively be used in the management of diabetes. The study was conducted on 30 volunteers, where wheatgrass was added to one meal. Glycemic index (GI) is a number that measures the impact that a food has on blood glucose levels. It is recommended that diabetics should consume low GI foods. The researchers found that adding 15 g of wheat grass to certain foods significantly lowered the GI of those foods and thus improving blood glucose levels. The blood levels of some fats called triglycerides were also improved in the participants who consumed wheatgrass. Hopefully more larger scale studies can be completed to back up these findings.
Wheatgrass has a good safety profile and aside from the sweet flavor, is well tolerated by most. Rare side effects include mild nausea and headaches. Findings from USDA research notes, “Gluten is found only in the seed kernel (endosperm) and not in the stem and grass leaves.” However many are still a bit skeptical. Of course, there is an exception, if the company has gotten gluten-free certification through the Celiac Sprue Association, the Gluten Intolerance Group, or the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness, where products are tested to contain less than 5ppm or 10 ppm of gluten, respectively.
The safety of wheatgrass is not fully assessed during pregnancy or lactation, so it is recommended that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not consume wheatgrass.
Always consult with a qualified health-care provider before starting any new health regimen, and to find out optimal dosage of daily wheatgrass that may help improve your condition. Wheatgrass does not replace and should not be used to replace any medication you are currently taking.