Alternative names: Beta-1,3-Glucan, Beta-Glucan, Beta Glucan, Beta-1,3-D-Glucan.
Beta glucan is a naturally derived polysaccharide which has been studied for its anti-tumor and immune stimulating properties.
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Beta Glucan is a unique polysaccharide composed of glucose molecules extracted and purified from the cell wall of common baker's yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae. It can also be extracted from oats.
Function; Why it is Recommended
The carbohydrate polymers known as Beta-1,3-d-glucans exert potent effects on the immune system – stimulating anti-tumor and antimicrobial activity, for example – by binding to receptors on macrophages and other white blood cells and activating them.
Beta-1,3-glucan is a safe and potent nutritional supplement with a systemic effect that can be described as non-specific immune stimulation combined with its free radical scavenging activity. Some of the biological events caused by this stimulation are:
- Activation of macrophages, expressing increased nonspecific phagocytic ability allowing macrophages to destroy pathogens more efficiently, frequently preventing disease.
- Release of important cytokines, such as IL-1, IL-2 among others, initiating immune cascade and triggering other cell lines, such as T-cells.
- Release of colony-stimulating factors, boosting bone marrow production.
- Cholesterol reduction through cell activation and antioxidant activity.
Beta glucan is used to maintain or stimulate the effectiveness of the immune system. Both animal and human cell culture studies have shown that beta glucan can stimulate several aspects of immune function, such as phagocytosis and interleukin production.
Groups of people that are considered to benefit from beta-1,3-glucan supplementation include:
- People with impaired immunity from any cause including but not restricted to HIV infection; people with high occurrence of infectious diseases, tumors and undergoing chemotherapy and radiotherapy; age people aged 40+ when the natural aging process starts to slow down immune reactivity, geriatric patients, and others with a compromised immune response.
- People who may be affected by extra free radical production caused by external sources: those frequently exposed to low-dose radiation, including sunlight, other types of exposures such as electromagnetic fields; lack of raw fruits and vegetables in diet and eating preserved foods. Extra free radicals can also be a result of a chronic disease such diabetes or chronic inflammation.
- People who exercise or train excessively, professional and amateur athletes as well as people who workout intensively and also those under physical or emotional stress who have a temporary immune deficiency which can result in infection. Beta-1,3-glucan will provide them with nonspecific immunostimulation that can increase their resistance to illness.
- People with high risk of atherosclerosis should consider adding beta-1,3-glucan to their diet whether they are taking cholesterol-reducing drugs or not. Macrophage activation will not only help to draw extra cholesterol from the blood but it also can prevent further plaque formation on the arterial walls and phagocytize existing plaque which is recognized as a foreign body.
Beta glucan may be helpful in blood sugar control. The addition of beta-glucan predictably reduces the glycemic index. In a 50gm carbohydrate portion each gram of beta-glucan reduces the glycemic index by 4 units, making it a useful functional food component for reducing postprandial glycemia.
Beta-1,3-glucan is Generally Recognized As Safe (category GRAS according to FDA) and has no toxicity or side-effects.