The words Beta Glucan pop up, and immediately many will think “oh great, another chemical name that I don’t want in my body” That’s what the sleuths of facebook will be saying, at least. Much to their chagrin, beta glucans are actually parts of naturally occurring organisms. Beta glucans are polysaccharides (multiple carbohydrates chained together) that form the cell walls of plants ranging from oat, barley, seaweed, to yeast and certain fungi.
Of course, since beta glucans come from a wide range of sources, they exhibit different functions in different ways. All beta glucans act as viscous fibers to some degree. For the sake of this article, we will discuss the function and benefit of beta glucans from oat and barley, which are two of the most consumed providers of beta glucan.
How long has Beta Glucan been around?
Beta glucan has been studied extensively over the last twenty-plus years, with evidence suggesting that ancient tribes used them several thousand years ago for medicinal purposes; so its benefits have withstood the test of time. It has played a prominent role in the mornings of many Americans, but just like Clark Kent is Superman, they didn’t know it.
Oatmeal is a rich source of oat-bran derived beta glucan, and many cereals are fortified with beta glucan in small amounts, as a dietary fiber. Acting as a soluble fiber , beta glucan becomes viscous, or thick, upon contact with liquid, this gives beta glucan the classification of ‘soluble fiber’. Unknowingly to most, beta glucan is the most consumed of all soluble fibers.
What are the benefits of Beta Glucan?
Currently, fibers are classified based on their rate of digestion; there are fibers that digest quickly (insoluble), slowly (soluble), and there are some totally resistant to digestion (gums and resistant starches, for example.) Digestion can have impact on stool size/constitution, gastric emptying (when you poop), and the absorption of glucose (carbs/sugar) and lipids (fat/cholesterol).
What does that mean? Well here is a list of the benefits to the slow-digested beta glucan:
Decreases fat mass development
Improves stool bulk, regularity
Most-researched benefit of B.G. is ability to lower Total and LDL cholesterol levels, while maintaining or even increasing good HDL cholesterol.
Leads to decreased incidence of cardiovascular disease (CVD)
NO ADVERSE EFFECTS NOTED – how many products touting health benefits can make that claim??
Effective against infectious diseases and cancer – with several studies linking beta glucan to decreased infection incidence, shortened ICU stay, and greater survival outcomes while in hospital care
Lowers post-meal glucose and insulin levels compared to placebo
Increases feeling of satiety due to ability to become viscous and affect hunger-related hormones
Improves insulin sensitivity in both diabetic and non-diabetic individuals
Can prevent insulin resistance in high-calorie diet
Leads to healthier gut with feeding of healthy gut bacteria
Increased consumption of beta glucan leads to fermentation of the fiber, which increase production of Short Chain Fatty Acids – known to improve symptoms of metabolic syndrome
Directly reduces energy intake
Though science is weak in the area, beta glucan seems to have a positive effect on blood pressure – reducing both diastolic and systolic blood pressure in some trials, meaning this can mediate hypertension.
Remember: benefits are dose-dependent, meaning that with an increased amount of beta glucan, the more benefit you will get. The upper threshold for getting benefit is typically around the 3-3.8 gram range, with tests going all the way up to 9 grams!.
Strong research on beta glucan was a critical component of why we included it in ProFiber. Beta glucan is one of the best nutrients for people who are prediabetic/diabetic and is incredibly useful for those who may have issues with getting hungry easily. We added 4.2 grams of beta glucan containing oat bran per serving, enough to give you benefits from all the above bullets.
How do Beta Glucans work their magic?
Beta glucans might lower blood cholesterol by preventing the absorption of cholesterol from food in the stomach and intestines, when it is taken by mouth. When given by injection, beta glucans might stimulate the immune system by increasing chemicals which prevent infections.
As mentioned at the beginning, beta glucan can be found in oats and barley. There are tons of cereals, mixes, and bars containing oats. Look to see if a package with oats lists the amount either on the package itself, or at least their website.
Barley is in a whole slew of foods: from snack foods to brewers yeast to flour and flakes. But be aware: for those who are gluten sensitive or have celiac, barley is 5 to 8 percent gluten.
If your intention is to get this disease fighting and health giving nutrient, your best bet is to get product high in oat bran. Oat bran is higher in the soluble beta glucan than regular oats. You can get them at practically any store. Oat bran is more expensive than oats, but the research and benefit for you is totally worth it.
ProFiber is a once-a-day meal replacement designed for people past 40 who have felt decline in their body’s ability. Targeting high blood sugar, high LDL cholesterol, and weight gain, ProFiber is easy to implement and has become an integral habit within the diets of many.
To read more, go to www.profiberfood.com