Dr. Alex Jimenez, El Paso's Chiropractor
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Beta-Glucan: The Modulator of Immune Health

Do you feel:

  • Tired or sluggish?
  • Difficult, infrequent bowel movement?
  • Mental sluggish?
  • Alteration in the bowel regularity?
  • Edema and swelling in ankles and wrist?

If you are experiencing any of these situations, then it might be something that may be attacking your immune system. Why not try to add some beta-glucan into your diet and overall health.

Throughout the last several years, beta-glucans have been gaining much attention due to the emergence of medicinal mushrooms in Western cultures. Across the country, studies have found that beta-glucans have been ubiquitous in the health food stores due to their immunomodulatory properties and cancer-protective effects. Since edible fungi have been known as the main source for beta-glucans, surprisingly though beta-glucan can be presented in a variety of foods like oats, barley, seaweeds, and yeast. Beta-glucan can also be found in dietary supplements for the body to consume.

Beta-glucans

beta-glucan structure

Beta-glucan is technically a non-starch polysaccharide, a prebiotic fiber that is formed by β-1,3 and 1,6 glycosidic bonds. With beta-glucan, it can possess numerous health benefits depending on the molecular structure of each type of bond. Studies have shown that beta-glucans that are found in cereal grains can help lower cholesterol levels and can effectively bind serum cholesterol. Beta-glucans can even play a beneficial role in obesity, metabolic disorders, and other chronic non-communicable diseases. Since beta-glucans are a prebiotic fiber, research shows that they can play a significant role in promoting a healthy microbiome in the body. It means that beta-glucan can stimulate the growth of beneficial bacteria species, mitigating pathogenic ones, and even modulating inflammation to optimize the gut environment in the body.

Beta-glucans for Immune Support

In a 2019 study, it stated that “the relationship between immunity and nutrition is considered to be completely interconnected.” More studies have shown that beta-glucan can act on several immune receptors that can stimulate immune cell activity. This includes T-cells, macrophages, neutrophils, monocytes, natural killer (NK) cells, and dendritic cells. One of the studies showed how beta-glucans could pose modulatory effects on both the innate and adaptable branches of the immune system. One of the protein receptors is known as dectin-1; this protein receptor is on the surface of macrophages and dendritic cells.

What dectin-1 can do is that they can initiate and regulate the innate immune response by insoluble binding β-1,3, and 1,6 glucans, plus it has become essential for controlling infections in the body. While water-soluble β-glucan can bind to the CR3 receptors, thus triggering the adaptive immune response to the body. With β-glucans, they can enhance phagocytosis while also triggering the release of various interleukins and cytokines, thus possessing cytotoxic anti-cancer properties. Studies have shown that TNF-ɑ, IFN-γ, and NF-κβ, can help to support the regulation of the T-helper cell 1 and Th-2 balance for immunological homeostasis for the body. Surprisingly in other articles, they talked about how yeast-derived β-1,3/1,6 glucan can be delivered as an oral supplement for the winter months. The article study showed how it demonstrates its protective effects against upper respiratory tract infections in the body. The study even showed how it could reduce the upper respiratory tract infection symptoms that are already in older adults that have been infected. Another study showed that β-glucan have cytoprotective abilities from viral infections and provide immunomodulatory properties to the body and the immune system.

With the population of many individuals, it turns out that the elderly population can benefit from the β-glucan compound. With this compound, everyone can have a healthy immune system, especially during the cold and flu season. Having a healthy immune system is important because that way, the body can protect itself from harmful pathogens through functional medicine, healthy nutritious food, and supplements. By using these options, the body can heal itself and can dampen the effects of cold and flu symptoms.

More Research on Beta-glucan

Research studies have shown that β-1,3 glucan from the fungal cell wall is one of the key ingredients for vaccines. The research shows as well that β-glucan can produce robust humoral and cellular immune responses for the body when it is exposed to antigens. What is interesting is that β-glucan is known to exert antioxidant activities in the body. With their reactive oxygen species (ROS) scavenging abilities, they can exert the antioxidants into the circulatory system and the mucosal immune system. There is a study that shows that β-glucan in barley can possess a higher total of antioxidants significantly at a better capacity than oats and yeast. The study showed that β-glucan could be subdivided into two groups depending on whether specific receptors are involved or not. It also stated that β-glucan could be validated as a functional food ingredient.

Conclusion

All in all, β-glucan is an amazing non-starch polysaccharide prebiotic fiber that has amazing properties that can help the body. β-glucan can be found in mushrooms and a variety of other foods like seaweed and oats. This compound can help boost up the body’s immune system and can dampen any harmful pathogens effects that the body has come in contact with. This compound’s beneficial properties are amazing for anyone that consumes it and even added it to their daily diet. Some products combined with β-glucan can support the immune system with hypoallergenic nutrients and targets amino acids.

The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal, and nervous health issues or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. We use functional health protocols to treat injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system. Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We also make copies of supporting research studies available to the board and or the public upon request. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900.


References:

Bacha, Umar, et al. “Nutraceutical, Anti-Inflammatory, and Immune Modulatory Effects of β-Glucan Isolated from Yeast.” BioMed Research International, Hindawi, 2017, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5587958/.

Chan, Godfrey Chi-Fung, et al. “The Effects of Beta-Glucan on Human Immune and Cancer Cells.” Journal of Hematology & Oncology, BioMed Central, 10 June 2009, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2704234/.

Fuller, Richard, et al. “Yeast-Derived β-1,3/1,6 Glucan, Upper Respiratory Tract Infection and Innate Immunity in Older Adults.” Nutrition, Elsevier, 23 Mar. 2017, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0899900717300539.

Jurgelewicz, Michael. “New Study Demonstrates Novel Yeast-Derived Beta-Glucan Provides Immunomodulatory Effects in Older Adults.” Designs for Health, 21 Oct. 2018, blog.designsforhealth.com/si-42214/new-study-demonstrates-zinc-supplementation-improves-clinical-outcomes-from-traumatic-brain-injury.

Levitz, Stuart M, et al. “Exploiting Fungal Cell Wall Components in Vaccines.” Seminars in Immunopathology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Mar. 2015, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4329074/.

Nakashima, Ayaka, et al. “β-Glucan in Foods and Its Physiological Functions.” Euglena, Co., Ltd., 14 Aug. 2017.

Nakashima, Ayaka, et al. “β-Glucan in Foods and Its Physiological Functions.” Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology, U.S. National Library of Medicine, 2018, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29491277.

Team, DFH. “Modulators of Immune Health: Beta-Glucans.” Designs for Health, 26 Mar. 2020, blog.designsforhealth.com/node/1219.

Team, DFH. “Mushrooms for Nutritional Medicine.” Designs for Health, 14 Feb. 2019, blog.designsforhealth.com/node/952.

Vetvicka, Vaclav, et al. “Beta Glucan: Supplement or Drug? From Laboratory to Clinical Trials.” Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), MDPI, 30 Mar. 2019, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6479769/.


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