Alfalfa sprouts deliver numerous health benefits.
One of the significant health benefits of alfalfa sprouts are attributed to their saponin content.
Saponins are a plant molecules that ,when ingested, act within the intestinal tract and do not enter the rest of the body ie are nonsytemic.
With the digestive tract’s high bacterial population potentially posing a threat to the bodys’ well-being,it is no surprise most of the immune cells and glands are located here.
In the natural scheme of things,a strong and balanced immune system destroys dangerous and invading organisms before they harm the body.
When the immune system is compromised, illness and disease may become established.
Research has attributed inflammation, from bacterial infections, with a major role in heart attacks and strokes in people with normal cholesterol levels (Inflammation is the result of the immune system response to infections and injury).
It appears a reduction in inflammation is as important as lowering cholesterol.
According to the New England Journal of Medicine,chronic infections triple the risk of artheroslerosis even in people without the risk factors of high cholesterol, high blood pressure, obesity or diabetes.
Excessive inflammation appears to damage artery wall linings and contribute to plaque build-up.
Heart attacks occur when an inflamed lesion of cholesterol plaque bursts to form a blood clot. According to Dr Steve Nissan from The Cleveland Clinic "In those individuals that reduced both cholesterol and inflammation,heart disease was reversing.The plaque was actually coming of the walls of the arteries."
What is the role of saponin in all this?
According to Peter Cheeke,Professor of Comparative Nutrition at the Linus Pauling Institute, saponins have a direct stimulatory effect on the immune system.
Saponins and Cleansing the Colon.
Researchers believe that many arthritics suffer some form of intestinal toxicity
It is the opinion of Doctors who treat patients with saponins, that they reduce the production of inflammatory toxins in the alimentary canal.
Dr M Clarke from Kansas State University claims Saponins can...
Help fight fungal infection, microbes and viruses
Increase some vaccine efficacy
Destroy some tumor cells, particularly lung and blood cancers.
In Arthritis News Today Vol 4 No 9 Dr R Bingham suggests some forms of arthritis are caused or worsened by toxic substances in the gut that the body absorb.
He states that saponins are not in the blood but work within the small and large intestine,encouraging the growth of friendly bacteria and decreasing the harmful ones
Saponins inhibit cancer cells in three ways according to Dr V Rao of the University of Toronto in Canada,
Cancer cells have a different membrane structure with more cholesterol like compounds than other cells.Since saponins bind cholesterol,they have a natural affinity for cancer cell membranes.The saponin molecules combine with the cancer cells preventing them entering the body through the intestinal track.
Saponins bind bile acids. Some large intestine bacteria convert bile into a highly carcinogenic substance. (This process perhaps explains why high fat diets increase the risk of colon cancer). The bile bonding saponin prevents formation of this toxin.
Thirdly saponins flush pathogens through the gut without allowing them to be absorbed.
Alfalfa sprouts have about eight per cent saponin content according to commercial sprout growers. Interestingly, the sprouting biochemistry increases the saponin content of the alfalfa sprouts 450% to the level of that in the alfalfa seed.