Barley Water Benefits How to Make and Side Effects

Barley Water Benefits How to Make and Side Effects

Barley, commonly known as jau in Hindi is a popular ingredient used in animal fodder, distilled beverages, and is a source of fermentable material for the production of beer. But did you know that it has some amazing benefits for the heath as well?

Barley is widely used in the preparation of soups and stews, and for making barley bread across various cultures. In a traditional and ancient method of preparation, barley grains are commonly made into malt which is then used for the production of beer.

In Ayurvedic medicine, barley has been used as an ideal grain for maintaining the Kapha dosha (maintaining structure and lubrication of bones) and as a cooling diuretic.

Additionally, barley water is used for promoting digestion and it is an important spice used in Chinese herbal medicine. In fact, barley grass is known as the ‘King of cereals’ for its varied uses.

This article discusses the various benefits, methods of preparation and the possible side effects of barley water.

Some basic facts about barley

Barley is the fourth most important cereal crop in the world. It belongs to the grass family and was one of the first cultivated grains. It was initially cultivated in Europe and Asia over 10,000 years ago.

Botanical Name: Hordeum vulgare

Family: Poaceae

Common Name: Jau

Sanskrit Name: Yava

Parts Used: Grains

Native Region and Geographical Distribution: Native to temperate climates

  • Barley water nutrition facts
  • How to make barley water
  • Barley water health benefits
  • Side effects of barley water

Barley water nutrition facts

According to USDA, 100 g of barley contains the following values:

Nutrients Value per 100g 

Energy 354 kcal

Water 9.44 g

Carbohydrate 73.48 g

Protein 12.48 g

Fats (Total lipids) 2.30 g

Fibres 17.3 g

Sugars 0.80 g

Vitamins and minerals

Vitamin A 1 ug

Vitamin B1 0.646 mg

Vitamin B2 0.285 mg

Vitamin B3 4.604 mg

Vitamin B6 0.318 mg

Vitamin B9 19 ug

Vitamin E 0.57 mg

Potassium 452 mg

Calcium 33 mg

Magnesium 133 mg

Phosphorus 264 mg

Sodium 12 mg

Iron 2.60 mg

Zinc 2.77 mg

Selenium 37.7 ug

Copper 0.498 mg

Manganese 1.943 mg

Fats/Fatty acids

Total 0.482 mg

Monounsaturated 0.295 mg

Polyunsaturated 1.108 mg

How to make barley water

A step-by-step detailed procedure for preparing barley water has been described below.

Soak about a quarter cup of barley seeds in water overnight.

Heat the barley seeds in about 4 cups of water in a saucepan and bring it to a boil.

Add a pinch of salt into the mixture and let the barley simmer for about 30 minutes.

Strain the water into a glass and allow it to cool down completely.

You can add like lemon juice, cinnamon, honey, and ginger to enhance the flavour or just drink the water plain.

Also, instead of discarding the barley seeds, you can grind or mash them and use them as a thickening agent for smoothies and curries.

Barley water health benefits

Barley water is prepared from soaked barley grains. This healthy drink is the new favourite of people aiming for weight loss. The many health benefits of drinking barley water have been described in detail below.

  • Barley water for weight loss
  • Barley water for diabetes
  • Barley water for cholesterol
  • Barley water for blood pressure
  • Barley water for the heart
  • Barley water benefits for the skin
  • Barley water as an anti-inflammatory
  • Barley water for urinary tract infection
  • Barley water for uric acid
  • Barley water for fatigue
  • Barley water for bones
  • Barley water for the immune system
  • Barley water for cancer

Barley water for weight loss

Barley water can be of great aid when it comes to weight loss. Barley is high in protein and very low in fat, cholesterol, and sugar content. It is also packed with essential vitamins and minerals. These properties make it an ideal nutrient for weight loss.

Drinking barley water has recently become a very popular way to burn calories. About 2 to 3 glasses of barley water can be consumed every day to speed up metabolism for effective weight loss.

If consumed regularly, barley water can significantly reduce the risk of obesity.

Barley water in combination with lemon and honey is a wonderful alternative to beverages high in calories.

Barley water for diabetes

Barley water can neutralise oxygen free radicals, improve health, and impair the pancreas endocrine of diabetic patients. Barley has a number of biologically active compounds which help in controlling hyperglycemia (increased blood sugar).

Saponarin is one such component which can control the blood glucose in case of diabetes. Polyamines in barley cells can increase under stress conditions, and it has a similar insulin function and blood glucose lowering effect.

Barley is also abundantly rich in both magnesium and calcium. A study was conducted on African American women in the United States in 2006. It tested the association between eating a diet rich in magnesium and calcium and the risk of occurrence of Type 2 diabetes. The study and kept track of the food frequency patterns of 41,186 women for 8 years and it was found that the daily consumption of magnesium-rich foods, especially whole grains, was linked to a lower risk of type-2 diabetes.

Barley water for cholesterol

Barley water on regularised consumption can help in reducing total cholesterol as it reduces low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, but significantly increases the high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels. Hexacosanol, a bioactive compound present in barley can improve cholesterol metabolism by decreasing cholesterol synthesis.

A recent study was conducted on healthy and hypercholesterolemic men and women to determine and record any change in serum lipid and cholesterol levels on consumption of barley water. The duration of the study ranged from 4 to 12 weeks, and it concluded that barley significantly reduced the total cholesterol, along with LDL, and triglyceride levels in the body.

Barley water for blood pressure

The bioactive compound, flavonoid saponarin found in barley possesses blood pressure regulating potential. Barley water helps in the regulation of blood flow and digestion. It also helps in regularising the general toxification of the human body, due to the presence of superoxide dismutase, lutonarin as well as saponarin.

A study conducted in 2006 which was published in the Journal of American Dietetic Association has found that increasing the intake of whole grains such as barley rich in insoluble fibre, helps to reduce blood pressure and maintain a healthy weight.

Barley water for the heart

Consumption of barley water can prevent thrombosis and cardiovascular diseases by enhancing better blood viscosity and flow. The metabolism of tryptophan in barley is used for developing appropriate therapies for patients with cardiovascular disease.

Barley is also abundantly rich in potassium. An increase in potassium intake is associated with decreasing inflammation and oxidative stress which can prevent the risk of a heart disease.

Barley water benefits for the skin

Drinking barley water can have immense benefits for skin health because it is rich in antioxidants and a host of other nutrients. The zinc present in barley helps to heal the skin and repair wounds. Drinking barley water will also help in reduction of facial lesions or wounds over time.

Also, the presence of large amounts of selenium in barley helps in maintaining the elasticity of the skin and keeping it toned by preventing free radical damage. So if you want to get rid of that acne, start drinking barley water.

Barley water also helps to keep the skin hydrated. Evidence from a study suggests that barley water can prevent ageing. Participants were given barley and soya bean as a dietary supplement for 8 weeks and the hydration effects were estimated. At the end of the study, a considerable increase in the skin hydration levels was noticed. This increase in skin hydration has been claimed to slow down ageing.

Barley water as an anti-inflammatory

Barley water has the potential for reducing inflammation. The bioactive compound, saponarin is an important functional ingredient responsible for the anti-inflammatory properties of barley water. 

Studies have found that barley water with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can be used as a natural drug for the treatment of patients with rheumatoid arthritis by neutralising reactive oxygen species and downregulating the tumour necrosis factor, a cell signalling protein triggering systemic inflammation from peripheral blood and synovial fluid of patients.

Barley water for urinary tract infection

Barley water helps in keeping the urinary tract healthy by preventing urinary tract infection (UTI). Furthermore, it is a powerful diuretic and helps in clearing out toxins from kidneys. A qualitative study was conducted in 2012 with 151 Hispanic women. The participants had a wide variety of symptoms for UTI. Several interviews were conducted, where a large number of Hispanic men and women claimed that one of the best home remedies they relied on for curing UTI was barley water.

Further research is, however, required to determine the exact components of barley that show such effects.

Barley water for uric acid

Uric acid is a by-product of body metabolism and is filtered out through the kidneys. However, excess accumulation of uric acid may increase the risk of kidney stones and gout. Barley water reduces blood uric acid, which is also beneficial for metabolism of faeces, lipid metabolism, liver function, and metabolism of the human antioxidant system. The diuretic effects of barley water have been found to improve hyperuricemia (excess uric acid in the blood) by filtering out excess uric acid from the body.

Barley water for fatigue

Drinking barley water can also help to fight fatigue. Lutonarin and saponarin comprise about 17% of the total constituents in barley. These are flavones that have antihypoxia (increases oxygen supply to tissues) and anti-fatigue effects on humans.

So, erase that fatigue away with a glass of barley water.

Barley water for bones

Barley is also extremely rich in calcium. Homeostasis of calcium is of paramount physiological and pathophysiological importance in health and disease. Drinking barley water would thus make sure that you get enough calcium which, in turn, reduces the risk of osteoporosis.

Barley water for the immune system

Barley water contains high amounts of vitamins and antioxidants that can boost the immune system. Consuming barley water on a regular basis also helps to speed up wound healing and help the body resist cold and flu. Additionally, barley water, when taken along with antibiotics helps to promote the function and effectiveness of the medication.

Barley water for cancer

Barley inhibits the growth of cancer cells through the combined effects of high alkaline, strong antioxidative, phytochemicals, flavonoids, and chlorophyll. Phytochemical mixtures of barley have been found to show promising antitumour effects in breast cancer.

Green barley extract has also been found to have anticancer effect as it shows antiproliferative and proapoptotic functions on leukaemia, lymphoma along with human breast cancer cells.

A study conducted in 2014 examined the effects of β-d-glucans, bioactive components of plant cells on breast cancer cells. The study has found that drinking barley water helps to cease the rapid cell division of breast cancer cells.

Side effects of barley water

We are familiar with the wide number of benefits of barley water by now. However, unmonitored and excess intake of barley water could lead to some serious side effects which have been discussed in detail below.

Over-consumption of barley water can lead to bloating, gas formation, and sometimes diarrhoea as well.

Another common side effect of barley water is allergies and other associated symptoms like rashes, inflammation, hives, irritation as well as swelling of eyes, eyelids, nose, arms, legs, and even anaphylaxis. In cases of hypersensitivity or allergy in the recent past, the daily consumption of barley water should be regulated. It is advisable to seek the opinion of your doctor before adding barley water to your daily regime.

Barley grain can cause a serious respiratory allergy called ‘bakers asthma’ in the people working in bakeries. While preparing barley water, one needs to be careful regarding the exposure to barley flour.

Barley water should not be consumed by people with celiac disease. Celiac disease is essentially wheat allergy caused due to gluten intolerance. Barley contains large amounts of gluten, that could make the condition even worse.

Barley water should be consumed during pregnancy only after proper consultation with your doctor.

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