What is Beta Glucan?
Beta glucans are ‘the super foods’, one of the most potent immunity enhancers having antimicrobial and anti-tumor properties. These powerful dietary supplements stimulate the immune system by activating the macrophage immune cells and the B cells and T cells to combat infections.
The complex carbohydrate polymers known as beta 1,3 and 1,6 glucans are immune boosters and bind to receptors on macrophages, and with the complement receptor 3. These nutrients are naturally derived polysaccharides linked by beta glycosidic bonds. Beta glucans are complex sugars or polysaccharides derived from various sources:
Beta Glucan Foods and Sources
- Beta (1,3) D glucan is present in baker yeast’s cell walls (saccharomyces cerevisiae).
- Beta (1,3) glucan and beta (1,6) glucans are derived from medicinal mushrooms like Reishi, Maitake and Shiitake.
- Bran of oats and barley contain beta(1,3) and beta(1,6) glucans. They are also present in wheat and rye in much lesser amounts.
They are noted for their capacity to modulate the human immune system. The insoluble beta (1,3 and1,6) beta glucans are more biologically active than their soluble counterparts or beta (1,4 glucans).
Chemcical structure of beta-1,3-1,6-glucan (laminarin, laminaran).
Beta Glucan Benefits
The benefits of beta glucan are virtually endless. They play an important role in reducing the cholesterol levels. They increase the levels of HDL (high density lipoproteins) or good cholesterol and reduce the levels of LDL (low density lipoproteins) or the bad cholesterol. Hence people with mild to moderate hypercholesterolemia are greatly benefited from them. The exact mechanism by which beta glucan regulate the lipid levels and prevent the incidence of cardiovascular diseases is as follows-
- By generating a gelatin-like substance which binds with the cholesterol thereby the intestinal absorption of cholesterol is reduced.
- By improving the bacterial fermentation process that takes place in colon, they inhibit cholesterol synthesis.
- Beta glucans reduce serum cholesterol by binding with bile acids in the intestines.
They are best known for their role in catalyzing the immune functions of the body like interleukin production and phagocytosis thereby strengthening the immune system and expediting the wound healing process. These innovative power nutrients (beta glucans 1,3 and 1,6) regulate the sugar levels by reducing the glycemic index and postprandial glycameia (increase in the sugar levels after food intake) so they play a vital role in management of diabetes.
Beta Glucan and Cancer, Obesity and Ageing
The tumoricidal properties or anti-tumor properties of beta glucans make them an indispensible weapon in winning the fight against cancers and tumors. They are known to prevent cancer and the survival rates of patients who are on radiotherapy are greatly increased by the consumption of this ‘wonder nutrient’. Hence, it offers promising adjunct treatment in patients suffering from various neoplasm and malignancies (cancers and tumors).
This revolutionary super food is quite effective in weight management and can help you to shed pounds and loose inches from your waistline. Thereby it rekindles a ray of hope for people suffering from obesity and can help you to get a lean and slim trim body so that you can flaunt your body like supermodels.
They are the fountain of youth as they slow down the ageing process. It penetrates through the dermis of the skin and effects the collagen fibers thereby it reduces the formation of fine lines and wrinkles on the skin.
The chemical structure of cyclic β-(1→6)-β-(1→3)-glucan of Bradyrhizobium japonicum strain USDA 110.
Do I Need a Beta Glucan Supplement?
Although they are naturally found in many yeasts, mushrooms, oats and barley – beta glucans need to be purified and processed and taken in optimum amount to take advantage of their full therapeutic value. These super charged nutrients can work wonders when taken in form of supplements. So, medical experts pan globe recommend people to supplement their diet with these wonder medicinal agents or supplements.
Beta Glucan Dosage
Many trustworthy and reliable companies are manufacturing these supplements in form of capsules containing beta glucans in a highly concentrated and purified form. These capsules are easy to consume. and the daily recommended dosage is about 200 mg of beta glucans per day.
In case the person is suffering from cancer, tumor or some deadly infection, the dosage may be doubled. It can be safely taken as a supplement or adjunct along with other prescription drugs but it is always better to keep your doctor well informed about it.
Beta Glucan Side Effects
Beta glucans are virtually devoid of any side effects. Being a hundred percent natural, these powerful nutrients are free from any adverse effects or side-effects. It is approved by the FDA and is included in the GRAS (generally recognized as safe) category.
Beta glucans have anti-ageing properties hence they are also used in various skincare products like cosmetics and age defying creams. They are known to reduce facial wrinkles and fine lines like crow’s feet and laughter lines. The creams having the active ingredient of beta glucans impart make the skin firm and younger looking.
They have an upper edge over the creams with alpha hydroxy acids as it does not irritate the skin and cause redness or eythema like alpha hydroxyl so it is excellent for sensitive skin and superior to botox in preventing wrinkles and signs of ageing. Hence, beta glucan creams are the skin care secret for the elixir of youth.
Some Personal Experience With Beta Glucans
My personal experience with beta glucans has been a turning point in my life. In the recent past, my mother succumbed to diabetes and developed ‘diabetic foot’. To make the matters worse she also had hyperlipidaemia. Being a doctor myself, I was aware that she needs some powerful adjunct along with her regular prescription drugs for a speedy recovery.
So, I started giving her beta glucans and the results were awesome. Within a month her blood sugar and lipid profile was normal and the skin infection disappeared. Owing to the medicinal properties of beta glucans, they may be aptly called as the panacea for all ailments.