Beta-Glucans: What You Need to Know

Better Nutrition|August 2020

Beta-Glucans: What You Need to Know
These biologically active compounds have multiple—often profound—health benefits, including immune protection.
LISA TURNER

If you’ve been searching for ways to improve your immunity, you’ve probably heard about beta-glucans, a type of fiber found in the cell walls of foods such as cereal grains, mushrooms, yeast, and seaweed. Dozens of studies suggest that different kinds of beta-glucans can lower cholesterol and triglycerides, decrease blood pressure, reduce inflammation, improve insulin resistance, protect against diabetes, and reduce the risk of cancer.

Beta-Glucans Activate Immune Cells

What’s especially important right now—beta-glucans are one of the best-studied immune supplements on the market and may protect against viral, bacterial, and other infections. They’re thought to work by activating immune cells, enhancing the function of natural killer cells and white blood cells that engulf and consume foreign invaders, and improving the body’s potential to defend against invading viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.

Beta-glucans are especially important in the management and prevention of respiratory tract infections and can support the body’s natural immune response in times of stress and increased susceptibility to infection. In a study from the journal Nutrients of moderately to highly stressed participants, those who received either 250 mg or 500 mg of beta-glucans reported fewer upper respiratory tract infection symptoms, better overall health, increased vigor, and decreased tension, fatigue, and confusion.

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August 2020