Beta 1, 3 Glucan and Beta 1,6 Glucan

Immune System Helpers 

The performance of the immune system is critical to keeping the body healthy so a well balanced diet with fruits and vegetables is important. There are other compounds that have been shown to be helpful to immune function and beta glucan is one of them. 

Beta glucan is a soluble dietary fiber that has been shown to have a variety of health benefits. It is found naturally in foods such as whole grains, wheat, oats, bran and barley. For centuries before beta glucan was studied, traditional Chinese medicine used mushrooms that contained beta glucans like Shiitake (Lentinus edodes) and Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum) to help build up the immune system (Stier H et al, 2014). 

Beta glucan began to get studied by scientists and there have been over 6000 research papers evaluating the immune function benefits of beta glucan providing support to the immune system, inflammatory response process and effects on microbes (Vetvicka V et al, 2010). 

Beta-1,3-(D)-Glucans have many branches and found either by itself in foods or with Beta-1,6-(D)-glucose side chains. Beta 1,3 and Beta 1,6 are part of plant cell walls. The glucans have been studied and shown that they help the immune system and help to activate macrophage cells and NK-Cells and also T Cells and B Cells. 

Beta-1,3 glucan, together with Beta 1,6-glucan taken from yeast cell walls (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) show that they help non-specific immune-activators. There are glucan receptors that accept the glucans to immune response cells. These receptors are found on macrophages and other cells. 

Beta glucans have been shown to help the upper respiratory track and one study showed that it helped to improve the respiratory system and fight off bacteria (Harger Domitrovich et al, 2008). The study used firefighters as their population to study who are exposed frequently to smoke and fumes. The subjects received a beta glucan supplement or placebo and recorded how they felt. 

Those subjects that were administered with the beta glucan supplement had 23% less problems with their upper respiratory tract compared to those taking the placebo. 

Another study evaluating individuals performing intense exercise, which causes immune cells to decrease (Brian K. McFarlin et al, 2017). Blood samples were taken from 109 healthy volunteers before, immediately after and then 2 and 4 hours after exercise. Beta glucan was provided at baseline and then for 10 days during the exercise period. The results showed that beta glucan significantly (P < 0.05) changed the total and classic monocyte concentration and expression and other immune blood cells. 

As with any dietary supplement, If you have a health condition and/or are taking prescription medication it is best to check with your health care provider prior to use. 

In summary, having a good diet is important to the immune system. Beta glucan has been used historically in Chinese medicine for the immune system. Beta-1,3 and Beta 1,6 have been shown together to help immune system cells. Various studies have been performed showing how the glucans activate immune cells.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. 

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