For the longest time, downing shots was synonymous with getting hammered on hard liquor. Now, millennials have found a new drink to fill their shot glasses with and it’s apparently one of the best things that could happen to your health. Move over tequila; wheatgrass juice is in town, and according to some sources – drinking just one ounce is the quickest way to give your body a nutritional dose that’s equivalent to that of 2.5 pounds of greens.
Made from the young wheat plant and harvested when it reaches its nutritional peak, millennials are taking to wheatgrass shots in spite of how unappetizing it looks (and tastes). But is drinking wheatgrass juice really all that legit, or is it just another health hoax?
Let’s find out.
What Research Says About Wheatgrass Juice
With more and more juice bars and health food stores selling wheatgrass juice, it’s natural to think it’s a recent discovery. But in truth, it’s really not all that new. Apparently, it was a thing amongst the ancient Egyptians as well.1
More current wheatgrass theories can be traced back to chemist Charles Schnabel’s research, which claimed that chickens and cattle showed an improvement in their overall health after eating some dehydrated cereal grass along with their regular feed. He believed that if conducted on humans, the study would yield the same results.2 Thus, the early 1930s saw the beginning of wheatgrass marketing, where dry, powdered shoots were being touted as “the world’s first multivitamin.”
Since then, other scientists and researchers went about conducting some small, very preliminary studies on wheatgrass juice.
One study suggested that wheatgrass might be helpful for people battling thalassemia, which is a rare blood disorder.3 Another study claimed wheat grass juice to be a safe, effective cure for ulcerative colitis, a form of irritable bowel syndrome.4
In a third study, researchers found that wheatgrass juice may even improve toxicity from chemotherapy in breast cancer patients. This finding was very important because it meant a reduced requirement for granulocyte colony-stimulating factors (GCSF support) that causes significant side effects. It also meant a decreased risk of myelotoxicity, a condition where the body is unable to produce immunity-boosting cells or leukocytes.5
Some sources are convinced that wheatgrass juice may even help treat anemia, diabetes, and cancer. Unfortunately, as much as we would’ve liked that to be the case, there’s really no concrete evidence for any of those claims. In fact, doctors and nutritionists are of the opinion that wheatgrass juice is no miracle cure, and shouldn’t be a replacement for regular medical care or a wholesome diet that includes fruits and vegetables.
However, Wheatgrass Juice Isn’t Completely Useless
While modern-day researchers still remain doubtful of wheatgrass juice being the ultimate “cure-all”, there’s no denying that a shot of this green liquid would definitely serve as a nutritional boost. Wheatgrass juice is packed with:
1. Blood-Purifying Chlorophyll
Wheatgrass juice is about 70 percent chlorophyll, a pigment that gives plants their green color.6 The chemical composition of chlorophyll is similar to that of hemoglobin, a red colored protein responsible for boosting our blood’s oxygen levels. Thus, chlorophyll acts as a natural body detoxifier that keeps our blood and liver toxin-free, allowing our body to function as it’s efficient best. This explains why so many cancer patients are now drinking wheatgrass juice!7
Additionally, chlorophyll also contains a certain type of enzyme that decomposes harmful superoxide radicals into a more manageable form. This is very helpful in slowing down our body’s aging process.[re]Wang, Erjia, and Michael Wink. “Chlorophyll enhances oxidative stress tolerance in Caenorhabditis elegans and extends its lifespan.” PeerJ 4 (2016): e1879.[/ref] Also, since chlorophyll is antibacterial in nature, it helps bolster our immunity and makes us less susceptible to harmful disease-causing microbes.8
2. Immunity-Boosting Essential Nutrients
Wheatgrass juice contains vitamins A, B-complex, C, E, and K along with 17 amino acids that make up a large proportion of our body’s cells, muscles, and tissue. It is also rich in minerals such as iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and selenium.9 10 This is what makes wheatgrass juice such a potent healer, leading many health experts to call it a “nutritionally complete” food.
3. Disease-Fighting Phytonutrients And Antioxidants
Phytonutrients are plant nutrients that are only found in…well, plants. Wheatgrass juice contains not just hundreds, but thousands of phytonutrients, some of which act as very powerful antioxidants. One study suggests that wheatgrass contains antioxidant levels that are much higher than most typical vegetables.11 Thus, drinking wheatgrass juice can shield your body from disease-causing oxidative stress and inflammation and can also help your heart
4. Energy-Boosting Glucose
Glucose, a simple sugar that accounts for wheatgrass’ naturally sweetish taste is safe, healthy, and can easily be broken down by the body. This gives our body instant energy that leaves our body feeling so fulfilled that it doesn’t feel deprived enough to crave for unhealthy refined sugars and sweeteners. Utilizing this property of wheatgrass juice can be life-changing for those of us who are desperate to lose weight but are held back because of our addiction to junk foods.
Does Wheatgrass Juice Have Any Potential Side Effects?
There is a possibility that wheatgrass may cause constipation or nausea. People with celiac disease or those who are allergic to wheat or grass should also steer clear of wheatgrass juice, pills, or powder.
Also, there’s often a chance that fresh wheatgrass may be contaminated with bacteria or mold. For this reason, it is also not advisable for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers to consume this juice.
For the rest of us, wheatgrass juice is completely safe though take ample warning, it’s definitely an acquired taste!
The Bottom Line
It is very clear that drinking wheatgrass juice is a great way to supplement your body’s nutritional needs. So yes, by all means, go ahead and say “yes” to adding a shot of wheatgrass to your smoothies. But if you thought you could get away with not eating those very healthy, yet not-so-enjoyable greens, you’re wrong.
There is no sound evidence that proves that wheatgrass juice ranks higher than other fruits and vegetables in terms of overall nutrition. And while dietitians don’t dispute the fact that it may significantly contribute towards your recommended daily intake of fruit and veggies, a single shot of wheatgrass certainly cannot count as one of your five daily servings of vegetables a day.12
|↑1||Wheat Grass. The Nutraceutical Garden: The Grains & Legumes Component.|
|↑2||Wheatgrass Is. Hippocrates Health Institute.|
|↑3||Marwaha, R. K., Deepak Bansal, Siftinder Kaur, and Amita Trehan. “Wheat grass juice reduces transfusion requirement in patients with thalassemia major: a pilot study.” Indian Pediatr41, no. 7 (2004): 716-720.|
|↑4||Ben-Arye, E., E. Goldin, D. Wengrower, A. Stamper, R. Kohn, and E. Berry. “Wheat grass juice in the treatment of active distal ulcerative colitis: a randomized double-blind placebo-controlled trial.” Scandinavian journal of gastroenterology 37, no. 4 (2002): 444-449.|
|↑5||Bar-Sela, Gil, Medy Tsalic, Getta Fried, and Hadassah Goldberg. “Wheat grass juice may improve hematological toxicity related to chemotherapy in breast cancer patients: a pilot study.” Nutrition and cancer 58, no. 1 (2007): 43-48.|
|↑6||hwan Sim, Ju, Moon-Hee Choi, Hyun-Jae Shin, and Ji-Eun Lee. “Wheatgrass extract ameliorates hypoxia-induced mucin gene expression in A549 cells.” Pharmacognosy magazine 13, no. 49 (2017): 7.|
|↑7||Gore, Rucha Diwakar, Sangeeta Jayant Palaskar, and Anirudha Ratnadeep Bartake. “Wheatgrass: Green Blood can Help to Fight Cancer.” Journal of clinical and diagnostic research: JCDR 11, no. 6 (2017): ZC40.|
|↑8||Mowbray, Sheila. “The antibacterial activity of chlorophyll.” British medical journal 1, no. 5013 (1957): 268.|
|↑9||Borah, Mukundam, Phulen Sarma, and Swarnamoni Das. “A study of the protective effect of Triticum aestivum L. in an experimental animal model of chronic fatigue syndrome.” Pharmacognosy research 6, no. 4 (2014): 285.|
|↑10||Khan, Masood Shah, Rabea Parveen, Kshipra Mishra, Rajkumar Tulsawani, and Sayeed Ahmad. “Chromatographic analysis of wheatgrass extracts.” Journal of pharmacy & bioallied sciences 7, no. 4 (2015): 267.|
|↑11||Kulkarni, Sunil D., Jai Tilak, R. Acharya, Nilima S. Rajurkar, T. P. A. Devasagayam, and A. V. R. Reddy. “Evaluation of the antioxidant activity of wheatgrass (Triticum aestivum L.) as a function of growth under different conditions.” Phytotherapy Research 20, no. 3 (2006): 218-227.|
|↑12||Wheatgrass: detox tonic or just juice?. National Health Services.|