What is Beta Glucan?
Beta glucans are a type of polysaccharide and the most abundant carbohydrate found in food. They’re also a good source of soluble fiber. Beta glucans are D-glucose monomers linked by β-type glycosidic bonds, including 1,3 and 1,6 linkages. β-(1,3)-D-glucans are starches, and β-(1,6)-D-glucans are laminarin molecules.
Beta glucans are a natural compound found in the cell walls of bacteria, cereals, and fungi. Brewer’s yeast is a particularly rich and nutritive source of beta glucans. It acts as an immunomodulator and helps build up the immune system. Beta glucans also help regulate cholesterol levels, and the US FDA recognizes that beta glucans support heart health. As a fiber supplement, beta glucans may support weight management and digestive health.
PureBulk sources this Beta Glucan 1,3/1,6 powder from baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae).
Potential Beta Glucan Benefits
Beta Glucan Supplements and the Immune System
Beta glucans may boost the immune system through several mechanisms. In vitro and animal studies show that beta glucans protect against infection by activating immune cells. It also boosts immune cell activity, including macrophages, monocytes, and neutrophils. Macrophages scavenge pathogens and eliminate damaged and diseased cells. Monocytes are integral for proper immune function. They influence the adaptive immune system, and they are essential to form macrophages. Monocytes also participate in the inflammatory and anti-inflammatory stages of the immune response. Neutrophils are the first line of defense against infection. They constantly seek, isolate, and destroy bacterial infections and pathogens. Beta glucans also help reduce inflammation markers, including inflammatory cytokines that can damage or destroy cells.
Beta Glucan Supplements and Heart Health
Beta glucans may promote heart health by stabilizing blood sugar and cholesterol levels. As a soluble fiber, beta glucans slow food digestion and how rapidly the bloodstream absorbs sugar. According to several human trials, beta glucans helped reduce blood sugar levels while fasting and contributed to better long-term blood sugar management in individuals that have difficulty processing glucose. Additional studies show that beta glucans help to lower blood sugar after eating carbohydrates.
Fiber also reduces how much cholesterol the digestive tract can absorb and improves total and LDL cholesterol levels. One study noted that participants taking beta glucans for eight weeks saw an almost 9% decrease in their total cholesterol and a 15% reduction in their LDL cholesterol. Beta glucans also act as an antioxidant. It exerts protective effects by scavenging reactive oxygen species (ROS) that damage heart health.
Potential Beta Glucan Side Effects
Most individuals can take beta glucan supplements without experiencing adverse effects. However, like all fiber supplements, beta glucans can cause minor digestive side effects in individuals who aren’t used to consuming much fiber. These include bloating, diarrhea, and nausea. Individuals taking immunosuppressants or medication to manage high blood pressure or diabetes should speak with a physician before taking beta glucan supplements.
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