Beta glucans are carbohydrates, that they belong to polysaccharide soluble fibers. Recently there is an increased interest on beta glucan due to their health properties.
β-1,3-D glucans can be found in cereals such as oat, barley, buckwheat, wheat and rye. β-1,6-D glucans are synthesized by microorganisms such as fungus and mold, and can be found in certain mushroom species, such as Reishi, Maitake, Shiitake and Ganoderma. Also many foods, cereals, bread and baked goods are enriched with beta-glucans.
β-1,3-D glucans help cholesterol levels balance and weight control, and support a healthy gastrointestinal system. β-1,6-D glucans are protective and supportive for the immune system. Beta-glucans are considered as functional ingredients, due to their health properties.
Recent studies have shown that beta-glucans are natural immune-stimulants. They fight bacteria and viruses that are resistant to antibiotics. Escherichia Coli and Staphylococcus aureus are examples of pathogenic microorganisms that beta glucans can fight. Their intake is beneficial in cold, flu, upper respiratory tract infections and for chronic fatigue syndrome. Also beta glucans can help natural body mechanisms in allergies.
As all fiber, beta glucans are indigestible from the small intestine. They ameliorate constipation symptoms, and bind toxic substances in the bowel, facilitating natural body detox. Also beta glucans have prebiotic action, and they enhance beneficial probiotic bacteria such as L. Rhamnosus και L. Acidophilus. In that way the help immune system health and fight antibiotics induced diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome and peptic ulcer that it is caused by H.pylori.
Beta glucans as soluble fiber, bind water and form a gel in the stomach. This gel delays gastric emptying and provides satiety. As consequence glucose is absorbed with low rate and it is regulated. Beta glucans are beneficial for diabetic and pre-diabetic individuals, as well as for healthy ones. Daily consumption reduces blood glucose imbalances and contributes to a better carbohydrate metabolism, while preventing insulin resistance.
Consuming 2 grams of beta glucans daily can contribute to weight loss and maintenance, as well as to appetite control. Also dietary fibers prevent insulin resistance and facilitate fat loss. Soluble fibers stimulate hormones linked to appetite and satiety control. In that way total calorie intake in reduced, as well body weight.
Beta glucans reduce blood cholesterol and prevent atheromatosis. For that reason they reduce cardiovascular risk. Studies have shown that the combination of a healthy diet and the consumption of 3 grams of beta glucans daily, can reduce total and LDL cholesterol in a proportion of 10%.
Beta glucans have a remarkable antioxidant action, and protect the body from harmful free radicals. Also support liver health and detox. In cosmetics beta glucans are used for skin hydration and soothing, and also as ati-ageing factors.
There is no established dosage for beta glucans. Therapeutic dosage is 3 grams daily, with an upper level of 10 grams.
Do not take beta glucans in pregnancy and lactation. Also theit intake is contraindicated in individuals that take immune-depressants or from patients with autoimmune diseases.