Beta Glucan Benefits
“You can’t beat a little beta glucan in your diet!”
That’s the claim from people who know all about the impressive list of beta glucan benefits – and why not? Beta glucans are one of the most effective promoters of optimal gut health around.
And a healthy gut leads to many other health benefits, such as improved immunity, better cardiovascular health, and lower risk of obesity.
So, if you’ve experienced digestive problems in the past or are simply hoping to maintain a healthy guy, keep on reading and you’ll learn all about why these sugars are important to your body.
Sugars? Yes, you heard me right. Good sugars…not all sugars are bad for you. In fact, some are essential and beta glucans are one of them.
It’s not only us good folk at Athletic Greens that are keen to relate the many beta glucan benefits. They have been backed up by over a century of research. This gives the supplement one of the strongest scientific stamps of approval around.
Why is this so important? Well, the problem lies in modern diets: most people do not consume enough high quality fiber, especially from fresh fruit, vegetables, and grains. More fiber is not necessarily the solution – unless it is from the right sources.
Similarly, modern diets make it increasingly difficult to maintain a healthy cholesterol balance. If this is a challenge that you are facing, beta glucan is a great way of redressing the balance.
Before we look at the list of beta glucan benefits in a little more detail, we need to understand what beta glucans are, to understand why the body needs them.
What Is Beta Glucan?
Beta glucans are a group of glucose polysaccharides. “But what are polysaccharides?’ I hear you ask. They are carbohydrates (starchy substances) essentially consisting of long-chain sugar molecules.
Beta glucans occur naturally and are most common in the cell walls of cereals (oats), yeast, and mushrooms. Think of them as the substance that makes oats gooey when water is added; that makes mushrooms chewy; and that gives seaweed its jelly-like properties.
They are a type of soluble fiber that attracts water in the gut. In doing so, they form a sticky, soothing substance that feeds beneficial gut bacteria. As they undergo fermentation, they exert a wide range of proven health benefits in the body that we will go into more detail about below.
Before we do that, understand that beta glucan (often written as β(1,3)D-glucan) in supplement form is usually extracted from the cell wall of baker’s yeast. It’s unpronounceable Latin name that you will probably never need to know is Saccharomyces cerevisiae.
But enough of this background. What you really want to know are the main beta glucan benefits you’ll experience when used in your daily healthcare routine, right?
Summary Of Beta Glucan Benefits
Some supplements struggle to find approval in the scientific community due to lack of human-based research. Beta glucan is NOT one of them.
Research into the health benefits provided by beta glucan dates back over a hundred years. And what this research has found may surprise you: the health benefits extend far beyond the gut.
Let’s start with the gut though. By taking this supplement you can expect the following beneficial effects:
Increased feelings of fullness and satiety due to the expansive, fibrous nature of beta glucan
The body is prompted to send chemical signals of fullness and satiety to the brain
Fats are ‘trapped’ in the digestive system so that they’re not absorbed
They bind to and help excrete cholesterol
They provide food and fuel for beneficial gut bacteria, encouraging the growth of healthy flora
They result in slower release of sugars into the bloodstream
Additionally, beta glucans are strongly linked to improved immunity, cardiovascular health, and the treatment of metabolic syndrome and obesity.
They have even been used in cancer prevention treatments, may be used for support during chemotherapy or radiation, and may have potential in the treatment of
HIV/AIDS.The more we learn about the importance of the gut to our overall health and wellbeing, the less it should surprise you about the range of ways beta glucan benefits us. Beyond the positive effects on the gut, you may also expect:
Crossing of the beta glucans into the bloodstream to ‘activate’ immune cells
Binding to specific immune cells to enhance their function
Helping immune and natural killer cells target and attack cancer
Action as antimicrobial agents, attacking bacteria and viruses.
Specifics Of Beta Glucan Benefits
The above summary gives you a good idea of the ways beta glucan benefits our bodies. More specifically, beta glucan produces the following therapeutic actions in the body (again starting with gut health):
→ For gut health
Beta glucans act as a prebiotic - a fermentable fiber that feeds (and encourages the growth of) beneficial colonies of gut bacteria. The right balance of gut flora has been linked to decreased inflammation, enhanced digestion, and improved general health.
→ For immunity
Beta glucans have a powerful effect on immune cells, increasing numbers, helping them grow bigger and enhancing their function. They’re therefore useful for fighting infections, upper respiratory illnesses, and may even exert their own antimicrobial effects.
→ For cardiovascular health
Beta glucan has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol, possibly reduce blood pressure and regulate blood sugar and insulin levels. When blood sugar is high, platelets become ‘sticky’ and the walls of veins and capillaries are damaged, leading to a higher risk of heart disease.
→ For preventing cancer
Beta glucans bind to and activate specific immune cells including macrophages, antibodies, and natural killer (NK) cells, triggering an immune response and mounting an attack against cancer cells (or tumors).
→ For obesity and metabolic syndrome
Because beta glucans form a sticky solution in the human gut, slowing down the rate at which food is absorbed, they regulate blood sugar and insulin responses.
This gooey quality also helps reduce cholesterol levels and fat absorption, increase feelings of fullness and help people reduce overall caloric intake.
Beta glucan has been found to have positive effects on hunger hormones like ghrelin and cholecystokinin, plus PYY and peptides associated with satiety.
There are also other possible far-reaching benefits of using beta glucan as a supplement. Its use in treating Lyme disease and inflammatory bowel disease await further study and other discoveries are expected in the future.
How To Safely Enjoy The Benefits Of Beta Glucan
Most recommended dosages of beta glucan are in the region of 1000mg per day.
However, doses between 3000 and 15,000mg may be indicated to reduce high cholesterol and treat disease. Check with a medical professional before taking these higher doses.
Because beta glucan is considered a ‘food’, no known toxic dosage exists. It’s generally considered safe to take alongside other medications, though it’s best to work with your healthcare professional to determine the precise dose.
Many people use beta glucan to help lower cholesterol. In this case, you can use it safely alongside Policosanol. Both have been demonstrated to work effectively in this respect.
Remember that supplementing diets with large amounts of fiber can be dangerous. It can lead to digestive discomfort, dehydration, and a reduction in the ability to absorb important nutrients from other food. It can even lower total cholesterol, which can have a negative impact by lowering good (HDL) cholesterol too far.
For this reason, increasing fiber intake with a measured amount of a quality supplement like beta glucan is a preferable way to lower LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol.
With the mountain of evidence supporting the long list of beta glucan benefits, you should be confident in adding it to your daily supplement plan. In doing so, you can look forward not only to improved gut health, but boosted immunity and a range of other positive health benefits too.