B-Glucan (B-d-Glucan)

What is B-Glucan (B-d-Glucan)? 

β-Glucan (beta-glucan or Beta-d-glucan) is a polysaccharide naturally occurring in the cell walls of cereals, bacteria, and fungi. B-Glucan not only has nutritional value as a source of soluble dietary fiber, but it has also received huge interest because of the health benefits that you can get by its consumption.

Of all fibers, its health benefits have been the most researched and well documented, and the use of health claims with β-glucan-containing foods has been approved in several countries including Canada, the United States of American, Sweden, Finland, and the United Kingdom [3]. Moreover, no human adverse effects have been reported following the consumption of a diet rich in β-glucan while the benefits pile up with regular consumption [4].

Food Containing B-Glucan 

B-glucan rich food

Mushrooms, oats, barley, seaweed, and algae are very rich in B Glucan. 
Alternatively, wheat and rye are also good sources. 

Uses and Benefits

Regular consumption of B-Glucan has the following effect on your body: 

B-glucan effects

1. It improves your blood sugar and insulin levels. 

By slowing down digestion B-Glucan decreases the release of sugar into your bloodstream and minimizes the release of insulin.
This is quite important because it will help you maintain constant energy levels without spikes and crashes. 

2. It lowers the bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while raising good cholesterol level HDL.

B-Glucan forms a dense gel in your digestive tract which collects bad cholesterol as it moves through your digestive system, preventing its absorption, and eliminating it from your body. 

Good cholesterol is the building block of testosterone, meaning you need cholesterol to produce testosterone. Although testosterone effects are more clearly demonstrable in males than in females, they are similarly important to both sexes.
Testosterone is a hormone with an important role in our bodies. It improves your confidence, sex drive, muscle size, and strength and bone strength. Thus, eating enough healthy fats in combination with a B-Glucan rich diet has all the necessary components to make you achieve a dramatic difference in the way you feel and perform. 

3. Making your immune system powerfully efficient – stronger, and faster in dealing with threats. 

B-Glucan enhances the responsiveness and function of immune cells,  stimulating both humoral and cellular immunity. Human trials have shown that pretreatment with B-Glucan both protects from infections and accelerates recovery from different kinds of injuries.

Where to buy B-Glucan?

Groceries

If you are looking to increase your B-Glucan intake without using supplements you can do it by simply increasing oat, mushroom, barley, seaweed, or algae uptake. 
Since oatmeal is the easiest one to make here is a big list with 50 delicious oatmeal recipes.

Mushroom lovers take a look at these 10 recipes or consider upgrading your coffee ritual with tasty mushroom-infused coffee.

Supplements

For those who prefer supplements, here are a couple of the best-rated ones on Amazon: 

  1. Glucan Elite
  2. Now B-Glucan
  3. Transfer Point B-Glucan 
  4. INR wellness B-Glucan 

 

In-depth analysis (trials and studies)

  • Blood sugar and Insulin Levels 

1.1 Reduced insulin responses have consistently been observed following the ingestion of β-glucan [16, 17-19]. Several mechanisms have been suggested to explain the glucose and insulin lowering effects of β-glucan. One of the mechanisms includes the ability of B-Glucan to form viscous solutions. Delayed gastric emptying occurs with increased digesting viscosity [20-22], slowing subsequent digestion, and absorption [23]. In conclusion, due to its viscosity and fermentability, β-glucan plays a significant protective role against insulin resistance.

1.2 One study completed in mice found that the effects of chronic consumption of chitin-glucan from a fungal source improved host metabolic alterations induced by a high-fat diet in mice [13]. (Chitin-glucan is a polysaccharide found in mushroom cell walls.) In this particular study, chitin-glucan decreased high-fat diet-induced body weight gain, fat mass development, and glucose intolerance irrespective of caloric intake. These beneficial effects were mainly attributed to the restoration of the composition and/or activity of gut bacteria.

  • Cholesterol 

2.1 B-Glucan has a fascinating ability to lower the bad cholesterol levels (LDL) while raising good cholesterol level HDL. [2, 14, 24].

HDL (high-density lipoprotein) cholesterol is known as “good” cholesterol. HDL takes the “bad,” LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol out of your blood and keeps it from building up in your arteries. (LDL cholesterol is known as bad cholesterol because it leads to the development and build-up of plaque on the walls of your arteries that increases your chances of getting cardiovascular disease.) [1]

2.2 Feeding rats a biopolymer (B-Glucan is biopolymer) isolated from submerged mycelial culture of Lion’s Mane mushroom at a dose of 200 mg/kg body weight significantly reduced a concentration-dependent manner plasma total cholesterol (32.9%), bad low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol (45.4%), triglyceride level (34.3%), and the atherogenic index (58.7%) and increased good plasma high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level (31.1%) as compared to the control diet.[15]

2.3 The US Food and Drug Administration and Health Canada have accepted 3 g as an effective daily intake of oat β-glucan to reduce serum LDL cholesterol [5, 25].

  • Immune system 

3.1 Multiple studies have shown B-Glucan’s ability to protect humans from infection and the ability to accelerate recovery from different kinds of injuries. The mechanism behind this process lies within B-Glucan’s ability to enhance the responsiveness and function of immune cells,  stimulating both humoral and cellular immunity  [6]. 

3.2  In vivo studies (studies on living organisms) on the responses to pathogen infections in animals have observed increased microbial clearance and reduced mortality in lethally infected animals when exposed to β-glucans [7, 8]

3.3 Three clinical studies demonstrated that pretreatment of high-risk surgical patients with intravenous yeast β-(1,3; 1,6)-D-glucan decreased the infection incidence, shortened intensive care unit length stay, and improved survival in comparison to a saline placebo injection [9–11]. 

3.4 Additionally, in a 2009 published study about the immunomodulatory effects of yeast-derived β-glucans against asthma and other allergic diseases in 6–12-year-old children, researchers noticed a reduction in asthma responses in children administered with β-glucans. This showed that β-glucans could be used for the treatment of allergic and inflammatory diseases [12].

 

References:

[1] https://www.webmd.com/cholesterol-management/qa/whats-the-difference-between-good-and-bad-cholesterol

[2] L. Brown, B. Rosner, W. W. Willett, and F. M. Sacks, “Cholesterol-lowering effects of dietary fiber: a meta-analysis,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 69, no. 1, pp. 30–42, 1999.

[3] C. M. Ripsin, J. M. Keenan, D. R. Jacobs et al., “Oat products and lipid lowering: a meta-analysis,” Journal of the American Medical Association, vol. 267, no. 24, pp. 3317–3325, 1992.

[4] J. Hallfrisch and K. M. Behall, “Physiological responses of men and women to barley and oat extracts (nu-trimX). I. Breath hydrogen, methane, and gastrointestinal symptoms,” Cereal Chemistry, vol. 80, no. 1, pp. 76–79, 2003.

[5] P. J. Wood, “Cereal B-glucans in diet and health,” Journal of Cereal Science, vol. 46, pp. 230–238, 2007.

[6] V. Vetvicka, B. Dvorak, J. Vetvickova et al., “Orally administered marine (1 → 3)-β-d-glucan Phycarine stimulates both humoral and cellular immunity,” International Journal of Biological Macromolecules, vol. 40, no. 4, pp. 291–298, 2007.

[7] G. Hetland, N. Ohno, I. S. Aaberge, and M. Løvik, “Protective effect of β-glucan against systemic Streptococcus pneumoniae infection in mice,” FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology, vol. 27, no. 2, pp. 111–116, 2000. 

[8] S. Saegusa, M. Totsuka, S. Kaminogawa, and T. Hosoi, “Candida albicans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae induce interleukin-8 production from intestinal epithelial-like Caco-2 cells in the presence of butyric acid,” FEMS Immunology and Medical Microbiology, vol. 41, no. 3, pp. 227–235, 2004.

[9] T. J. Babineau, A. Hackford, A. Kenler et al., “A phase II multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled study of three dosages of an immunomodulator (PGG-glucan) in high-risk surgical patients,” Archives of Surgery, vol. 129, no. 11, pp. 1204–1210, 1994. 

[10] T. J. Babineau, P. Marcello, W. Swails, A. Kenler, B. Bistrian, and R. A. Forse, “Randomized phase I/II trial of a macrophage-specific immunomodulator (PGG-glucan) in high-risk surgical patients,” Annals of Surgery, vol. 220, no. 5, pp. 601–609, 1994.

[11] E. P. Dellinger, T. J. Babineau, P. Bleicher et al., “Effect of PGG-glucan on the rate of serious postoperative infection or death observed after high-risk gastrointestinal operations,” Archives of Surgery, vol. 134, no. 9, pp. 977–983, 1999.

[12] R. Nicolosi, S. J. Bell, B. R. Bistrian, I. Greenberg, R. A. Forse, and G. L. Blackburn, “Plasma lipid changes after supplementation with β-glucan fiber from yeast,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 70, no. 2, pp. 208–212, 1999. 

[13] A. M. Neyrinck, S. Possemiers, W. Verstraete, F. De Backer, P. D. Cani, and N. M. Delzenne, “Dietary modulation of clostridial cluster XIVa gut bacteria (Roseburia spp.) by chitin-glucan fiber improves host metabolic alterations induced by high-fat diet in mice,” Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry. In press. 

[14] M. Sierra, J. J. Garc´ıa, N. Fernandez et al., “Therapeutic ´ effects of psyllium in type 2 diabetic patients,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 56, no. 9, pp. 830–842, 2002. 

(15) Yang, B. K.; Park, J. B.; Song, C. H. Hypolipidemic effect of an exo-biopolymer produced from a submerged mycelial culture of Hericium erinaceus. Biosci., Biotechnol., Biochem. 2003, 67, 1292−1298.

[16] Y. Granfeldt, L. Nyberg, and I. Bjorck, “Muesli with 4 g ¨ oat β-glucans lowers glucose and insulin responses after a bread meal in healthy subjects,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 62, no. 5, pp. 600–607, 2008.

[17] I. Bjorck, H. Liljeberg, and E. ¨ Ostman, “Low glycaemic-index ¨ foods,” British Journal of Nutrition, vol. 83, no. 1, pp. S149– S155, 2000.

[18] R. Chandra and R. A. Liddle, “Cholecystokinin,” Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Obesity, vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 63–67, 2007.

19] E. J. Beck, S. M. Tosh, M. J. Batterham, L. C. Tapsell, and X. F. Huang, “Oat β-glucan increases postprandial cholecystokinin levels, decreases insulin response and extends subjective satiety in overweight subjects,” Molecular Nutrition and Food Research, vol. 53, no. 10, pp. 1343–1351, 2009.

[20] J. T. Braaten, P. J. Wood, F. W. Scott, K. D. Riedel, L. M. Poste, and M. W. Collins, “Oat gum lowers glucose and insulin after an oral glucose load,” American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 53, no. 6, pp. 1425–1430, 1991.

[21] L. Marciani, P. A. Gowland, R. C. Spiller et al., “Effect of meal viscosity and nutrients on satiety, intragastric dilution, and emptying assessed by MRI,” American Journal of Physiology, vol. 280, no. 6, pp. G1227–G1233, 2001.

[22] G. Darwiche, O. Bjorgell, and L. O. Alm ¨ er, “The addition of ´ locust bean gum but not water delayed the gastric emptying rate of a nutrient semisolid meal in healthy subjects,” BMC Gastroenterology, vol. 3, article 12, 2003.

[23] C. A. Edwards, I. T. Johnson, and N. W. Read, “Do viscous polysaccharides slow absorption by inhibiting diffusion or convection?” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 42, no. 4, pp. 307–312, 1988.

[24] S. S. Abumweis, S. Jew, and N. P. Ames, “beta-glucan from barley and its lipid-lowering capacity: a meta-analysis of randomized, controlled trials,” European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, vol. 64, no. 12, pp. 1472–1480, 2010.

[25] Health Canada: Oat Products adn Blood Cholesterol Lowering, Summary of Assessment of a Health Claim about Oat Products and Blood Cholesterol Lowering, http://www.hc-sc .gc.ca/fn-an/alt formats/pdf/label-etiquet/claims-reclam/assess-evalu/oat avoine-eng.pdf