Beta glucan is a naturally occurring polysaccharide and a type of fiber that you can find in certain healthy foods. It can be found in oats, the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, and some plants. It is responsible for many of the health-promoting properties of foods like oats, wheat, and barley. As a soluble fiber, beta glucan has been studied extensively for its effects on heart health, cholesterol levels, and strengthening immunity. Research shows that beta glucan benefits include boosting immunity and stabilizing blood sugar levels.
Beta Glucan’s Effect on Cholesterol & Blood Sugar
Beta glucan is a type of soluble fiber that is water soluble. Soluble fiber cannot be absorbed or digested by our bodies so instead, it becomes a thick gel. Because it is not absorbed by the intestine, soluble fiber can attach to cholesterol and remove it from the body. Meanwhile, the thick gel coats our intestine and slows down digestion, which helps prevent blood sugar from spiking. Beta glucan has been tested to be effective in lowering blood sugar concentrations, decreasing hyperlipidemia and hypertension.
Beta Glucan and the Immune System
Current data suggests that beta glucan is an immunomodulator and can directly stimulate immune responses or encourage adaptive immune responses by getting trapped by macrophage receptors and encouraging natural killer cell function. When beta glucan enters the intestine, some are captured by macrophages and then transported to be taken up by other immune cells. While binded to the receptors, beta glucan generates bacterial compounds such as lysozyme that serves as an antimicrobial agent. As such, beta glucan has been used in immunotherapy for cancer treatment for its ability to help reduce tumor growth and prevent tumor metastasis. However, β-glucans of different sizes and branching patterns may have significantly variable immune potency.
Sources & Types of Beta Glucan
If you’re looking for ways to naturally incorporate more beta glucan into your diet, the easiest way may be to swap out your cereal for a bowl of oats! Oats are among the richest sources of beta glucan with 3 to 8 grams per 3.5 ounces. Aside from oats, barley, reishi mushrooms, shiitake mushrooms, and nutritional yeast are also high in beta glucan.
Purity and Bioavailability
In general, beta glucan can be obtained from grain, yeast, mushrooms, or through a fermentation process. Depending on the source, there are differences in bioavailability and effectiveness. For instance, the extraction processes can impact the purity of the beta glucan. Furthermore, the resulting beta glucan chain linkages vary.
Beta Glucan obtained from fermentation via bacteria and algae have linear structures whereas the beta glucan extracted from yeast, mushrooms, oats, and barley have a branched structure.
The water solubility of beta glucan is dependent on its structure and contributes to the resulting viscosity of the gel it becomes after ingestion. It has been reported in literature that viscosity of beta glucan in the gut is mainly responsible for its cholesterol lowering effects.
The 1,3 chain linkage found in Beta Glucan has many peer-reviewed scientific journals supporting its effectiveness and is one of the most compelling natural immunomodulators available as a dietary supplement.*
Glucan Elite contains BGF-Immune® 1,3 Beta-Glucan 85%. The unique isolation of β-(1→3) linkage offers extremely high bioavailability compared to other derived sources of beta glucan. Check it out here.