Saturday, September 11, 2010

Wheat Germ News

"Incorporation of N-acetylglucosamine-specific agglutinins from wheat germ (Triticum aestivum; WGA), thorn apple (Datura stramonium) or nettle (Urtica dioica) rhizomes in the diet at the level of 7 g/kg reduced the apparent digestibility and utilization of dietary proteins and the growth of rats, with WGA being the most damaging. As a result of their binding and endocytosis by the epithelial cells of the small intestine, all three lectins were growth factors for the gut and interfered with its metabolism and function to varying degrees. WGA was particularly effective; it induced extensive polyamine-dependent hyperplastic and hypertrophic growth of the small bowel by increasing its content of proteins, RNA and DNA. Furthermore, an appreciable portion of the endocytosed WGA was transported across the gut wall into the systemic circulation, where it was deposited in the walls of the blood and lymphatic vessels. WGA also induced the hypertrophic growth of the pancreas and caused thymus atrophy. Although the transfer of the gene of WGA into crop plants has been advocated to increase their insect resistance, as the presence of this lectin in the diet may harm higher animals at the concentrations required to be effective against most pests, its use in plants as natural insecticide is not without health risks for man."
So if WGA is spliced into other food sources, they can be toxic too.
"[Wheat germ agglutinin] is a toxic compound and an anti-nutritional factor, but recent works have shown that it may have potential as an anti-tumor drug and as a carrier for oral drugs.... Here we show that at nanomolar concentrations WGA is unexpectedly bioactive on immune cells.... These results shed new light onto the molecular mechanisms underlying the onset of gastrointestinal disorders observed in vivo upon dietary intake of wheat-based foods.
It messes up your gut, and you don't have to be celiac to enjoy the benefits.
 "Biologically intact wheat germ agglutinin was detected in ileostomy effluent and fecal collections from human subjects consuming a diet containing wheat germ. These studies demonstrate that wheat germ agglutinin can traverse the human small intestine intact. It is feasible that orally ingested wheat germ agglutinin and other plant lectins which interact with a wide variety of cell membranes may alter intestinal epithelial or bacterial cell function in the human bowel."
And it messes up your bowel, also.  This last one is from 1978, so I guess it's not "news"...

On the pro side of the equation we have this:
"The purpose of this study was to determine if WGA enters the circulation of healthy subjects following ingestion of wheat germ.... According to the protocol utilized, WGA was not detected in venous plasma samples from any of the subjects following consumption of 50 g of wheat germ. Further research will be required to determine if WGA enters the bloodstream and binds formed elements such as erythrocytes, platelets, and leukocytes in addition to other tissues and organs."
Wheat seems to do enough damage to enough people anyway...