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Beta glucans: 10 frequently asked questions


Among the most well-studied immune supplements are beta-glucans, which were shown to have a beneficial effect on immune cells. Beta-glucans have the ability to activate and enhance immune cells helping the body defend itself against viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.

Beta glucans are polysaccharides found naturally in cereals, yeast, fungi, and algae. Their function as improving immunity, reducing inflammation or lowering cholesterol levels depends on their source and structure. 

Our body does not produce beta glucans naturally, so it must obtain them from outside sources. Getting adequate amounts of beta-glucans from food can be challenging, especially the types that improve immune function.

Beta glucans are available in various supplement forms including powders, capsules, and tablets. Since the pandemic, many people have started taking beta glucan supplements daily in order to maintain a healthy immune system and improve their wellbeing. 

This article covers the top 10 most frequently asked questions about beta glucan and why you should add it to your product line.  

  1. What are beta glucans?

Beta -glucans are polysaccharides composed of repeating glucose units connected linearly at carbon positions 1 3 or 1-4 by a β-type glycosidic bond.

Humans can’t digest or absorb beta-glucans because our digestive system lacks the enzymes to do so. Consequently, it can either reach the gut and act as dietary fibers or recognized by immune cells in the intestine leading to immune response. 

      2. Which sources of beta glucans are available in the market? 

Beta glucans come from a variety of sources and can be classified into cereal and non-cereal beta glucans. Their structure, physical properties, binding affinity to receptors, and biological activities vary. Cereal beta glucans are naturally present in oat and barley. Non cereal beta glucans can be found in yeast, mushrooms, bacteria and algae.

       3. What are the differences between the types of beta glucan?

Cereal or grain derived β-glucans usually have 1,3 1,4 glycosidic linkages without any 1,6 bonds or branching. They are effective dietary fibers and they were found to be useful in managing cholesterol levels and supporting cardiovascular health.Non-cereal β-glucans are fibrous structures recognized as immunomodulators.  In general, they consist of beta-1,3-glucan chains with or without branching attached via beta-1,6-glycosidic bonds.

beta glucan table

       4. How does beta glucan support immunity?

Beta glucans polysaccharides are touted as nature’s immune modulator, helping to prime immune cells, supporting and balancing optimal natural immunity. It helps the immune system to respond faster and efficiently to pathogens attack through the activation of innate immune cells. 

Beta Glucans initiate immune responses via immune cells, which become activated by the binding of the molecule to the receptor Dectin-1 that is found on white blood cells.

Beta-glucans were shown in clinical studies to have an effect on reducing respiratory tract infection symptoms. They can also support the body’s natural immune response during times of increased stress and susceptibility to infections.

      5. How does beta glucan induce trained immunity?

The term trained immunity refers to a functional reprogramming of innate immune cells in response to stimuli, which results in an enhanced response to a second stimulus. In other words, trained immunity refers to the ability of the immune system  to react quickly and robustly to a second challenge by a similar or dissimilar microbe or fungus.. 

When beta glucans bind to the Dectin-1  receptors on the immune cells’ surface, they activate and prepare them for future encounters with pathogens. In the following stage when trained cells encounter a pathogen, they respond in a more effective way than the cells that have not been previously exposed to beta glucans ever before.

      6. How else does beta glucan affect our bodies?  

Several pre clinical studies indicated that the consumption of beta glucans from micro algae sources reduced inflammatory symptoms  in skin and joints inflammatory diseases.

In addition, beta glucans showed a positive effect on health related quality of life parameters including mental health and fatigue in subjects that consumed beta glucan products as compared to placebo in several clinical studies.

       7. How long does it take beta glucans to work?

Human studies indicated that there is a very rapid response to the beta glucans after oral administration. Initial changes in immune cells were noted just 2 hours after consumption.

       8. Who could benefit from the consumption/use of Beta glucans?

Anyone can benefit from the consumption of beta glucans but immune support is most important to certain populations such as children, elderly population, people who perform strenuous physical activities and people with stressful lifestyles. Interestingly even your pet can benefit from the consumption of beta glucans which are provided as daily treats.

       9. Is there any known toxicity or negative side effects related to beta glucans?

Beta glucans have been consumed by people for many years, especially in food and dietary supplements. they are generally recognized as safe and are approved for human consumption and can be taken as part of a regular supplementation routine. There are no negative side effects related to the consumption of beta glucans. As far as the immune system is concerned, they are recognized as safe, since they do not have the ability to over stimulate the immune system. Toxicology studies conducted with very high doses of beta glucan did not reveal any safety concerns and did not lead to over stimulation of the immune system.

      10. What is the recommended daily dose of beta glucan?

The FDA reference amounts customarily consumed per eating occasion is 200mg of pure beta glucans to help support optimal immune function.

BioGlenaTM – a high-quality source of beta-glucan from Solabia-Algatech Nutrition 

BioGlena™, Solabia-Algatech Nutritions’ Beta-glucan, is a 100% natural whole Euglena gracilis algae produced by proprietary fermentation technology ensuring a high beta-glucan content (>55%), in addition to complete protein, essential vitamins and minerals. 

The microalgae Euglena gracilis produces linear 1,3 beta-glucans called Paramylon which supports a controlled and balanced immune response.

BioGlena™️ is easily digested and the β-Glucan is easily released from the whole algae in the stomach and is then picked up by immune cells in the intestine and transported to key immune sites in the body. This initiates a cascade of immune signaling and immune cell priming, ultimately strengthening our natural innate and adaptive immune support against pathogens. 

An in-vitro study was conducted by Solabia- Algatech in order to evaluate the effect of BioGlena on the secretion of cytokines by human macrophages. Cytokines are peptides that are produced and secreted by immune cells in order to modulate immune response. They have a very important role as part of our immune response to infections. 

Macrophages were incubated for 24 hours with BioGlena and controls. At the end of the 24 hours the cells were washed and kept at rest for 5 days. Following the resting period, the cells were incubated with viral and bacterial pathogens.

The IFNγ, an important cytokine involved in the fight against viruses, levels in cells previously exposed to BioGlena were much higher than the levels in the untreated cells. The study showed that exposure of human macrophages to BioGlena led later to enhanced response against viral pathogens.

BioGlena™️ requires no extraction procedure, hence contains no additives and solvents, and is suitable and safe for the whole family for daily use.  

BioGlena™ has been recognized by the FDA as a G.R.A.S.

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