Wheatgrass powder has become a popular health supplement due to its nutritional benefits. Some people claim it can help manage blood sugar levels. But does consuming wheatgrass actually cause spikes in insulin levels?
What is Wheatgrass Powder?
Wheatgrass refers to the young grass shoots of the common wheat plant, Triticum aestivum. It is harvested before reaching full maturity, when the grass is still soft and bright green in color.
To make wheatgrass powder, the grass shoots are dried and ground into a fine powder. This powder can be mixed into smoothies, juices, or water.
Wheatgrass powder is prized for its high concentration of nutrients, including:
- Amino acids
- Vitamins A, C, E
Some proponents claim wheatgrass has additional health benefits, such as reducing inflammation, stimulating immunity, and purifying the blood. However, many of these alleged benefits lack scientific evidence.
How Wheatgrass Powder May Help Blood Sugar
There are a few reasons why wheatgrass powder may help stabilize blood sugar levels:
Rich in nutrients, not sugar
Wheatgrass powder contains very little sugar or carbohydrates. One teaspoon (2 grams) provides just 1 calorie and less than 1 gram of carbs.
This makes it a nutritious choice for people with diabetes or prediabetes who need to watch their sugar and carb intake.
May reduce oxidative stress
Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in the body. It’s been linked to insulin resistance and high blood sugar.
Wheatgrass contains antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, and flavonoids that can neutralize free radicals and reduce oxidative stress. This may improve insulin sensitivity.
Chronic inflammation is another factor that can contribute to insulin resistance. The antioxidants in wheatgrass help fight inflammation.
One study in 60 diabetic patients found taking wheatgrass juice for 3 months significantly reduced inflammatory markers like c-reactive protein (CRP).
Can Wheatgrass Powder Actually Lower Blood Sugar?
A few small studies suggest wheatgrass may directly lower blood sugar levels:
- In the study above in diabetic patients, wheatgrass juice reduced fasting blood sugar by 16% after 3 months.
- Another study in 20 diabetic patients found 50 mL of wheatgrass juice per day for 30 days decreased fasting blood sugar by 8%.
- An animal study showed wheatgrass powder reduced blood sugar spikes after a glucose tolerance test in diabetic rats.
The fiber in wheatgrass may also slow glucose absorption and inhibit spikes after meals. However, the evidence is still limited.
Does Wheatgrass Powder Spike Insulin?
Based on its very low carbohydrate content, wheatgrass powder is unlikely to spike insulin levels on its own.
However, there are a few important caveats:
May affect insulin sensitivity
Although wheatgrass does not contain sugar, its nutrients may increase insulin sensitivity over time by reducing inflammation and oxidative stress.
This would improve the body’s ability to respond to glucose and require less insulin output.
Consuming wheatgrass powder alongside high-carb foods could cause insulin stacking. This refers to a cumulative spike in insulin due to multiple components of a meal.
To prevent this, wheatgrass is best consumed alone or only paired with foods that have minimal impact on blood sugar.
Blood sugar fluctuations
For people taking diabetes medication, wheatgrass could potentially contribute to low blood sugar if it acts to lower glucose levels.
It’s important to monitor blood sugar closely when starting to use wheatgrass powder.
Safe Intake of Wheatgrass for Diabetes
Current research on wheatgrass powder for diabetes is limited. But it suggests potential benefits when incorporated into a healthy diet and lifestyle:
- Start with 1 tsp (2 g) per day mixed with water or smoothies.
- Slowly increase to 1-2 tbsp (7-14 g) per day.
- Monitor blood sugar and adjust medications if needed.
- Pair wheatgrass with non-starchy vegetables, nuts, seeds, and high-fiber fruits.
- Avoid taking wheatgrass alongside high-carb or high-sugar foods.
- Talk to your healthcare provider, especially if taking diabetes medication.
The Bottom Line
Based on its nutrient profile, wheatgrass powder is unlikely to directly cause spikes in insulin secretion. However, its effects on insulin sensitivity, inflammation, and blood sugar stabilization may contribute to better long-term blood glucose control.
Wheatgrass powder shows promise as a supplemental therapy, but more research is needed. It’s best incorporated into an overall healthy diet tailored to your individual needs.
Monitoring your response and consulting your healthcare team can help ensure wheatgrass powder is safe and effective for you.
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