Beta Glucan: A Soluble Fiber
Plants we eat give us dietary fiber and benefit us by reducing our cholesterol level, helping to maintain stable blood sugar levels, keep bowel movements regular, support healthy hearts, and contribute to controlling weight. Fiber is divided into two primary categories, namely soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber can be dissolved partly in water whereas insoluble fiber cannot be dissolved. Beta glucan is a soluble fiber that comes from the cell wall of whole grains like oats, bran, wheat, barley and red rice, and from Baker's yeast, some seaweeds, and mushrooms like maitake, reishi, Black Trumpet, Turkey Tail, oyster, Poria Cocos, and shiitake. You have probably seen the heart healthy label that many foods display. This is a label approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicating that food is a good source of beta glucan. According to the Institute of Medicine, adult males under 50 years of age should get 38 grams of fiber a day and women should get 25 grams. Males over 50 should get 30 grams and women 21 grams. For teens the amount recommended is 30 to 35 grams daily. There have been many studies over the years reporting the benefits of fiber and beta glucan in particular benefiting cholesterol and heart health, by slowing down digestion and the body's ability to absorb sugar. This helps stabilize blood sugar levels. It is also able to travel through the entire digestive tract and move cholesterol along which reduces your cholesterol levels. Although much of the initial research has been done on beta glucan in these areas, studies also report the benefits it has for boosting the immune system.
Beta Glucan and the Immune System
Research studies on beta glucan report that it may boost the immune system which can help you fight off colds and infections. Studies such as those done at Harvard University have found that, macrophages, which are white blood cells that kill off foreign invaders and stimulate other immune cells to fight them off, can be stimulated by beta glucan. Mushrooms have been used for their health benefits by just about every culture in the world for centuries. Many varieties contain biologically active polysaccharides mostly in the beta glucan category. Studies have found beta glucan to be effective against bacterial infections and viral infections and even able to lessen the duration of cold symptoms. Certain types of mushrooms are being found effective for immune support because they have polysaccharides, glycoproteins, ergosterols, and triterpenoids. These are all precursors to beta glucans. One way to get the power of mushrooms containing these compounds is with this mushroom supplement that has a combination of reishi, maitake, cordyceps, wild black trumpet, and Poria cocos or this algae/mushroom supplement made with reishi, cordyceps, maitake, shiitake, Turkey Tail, and Agaricus blazei, with astragalus, beta glucan and wild AFA bluegreen algae.
Help your immune system to help you by avoiding all the germs and colds going around. Scientists have shown that beta glucan and many mushroom varieties have the ability to give your immune system a boost so it can stay strong and help protect you. Our bodies don't make beta glucan on their own. We have to get them from foods and supplements. Make sure you eat enough foods to get the beta glucan you need and if you can't then know that supplementation is available to help you fill in those nutritional gaps.
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