Modern-day society brings with it an onslaught of immune system offenders like stress, toxins, nutrient-void processed foods, and much more. It’s critical to find effective ways to build and maintain a robust immune system.
Yeast-derived beta-glucans are a unique and powerful way to positively impact the inflammatory and antimicrobial activities of cells in the innate immune system.* Essentially, these compounds train your immune cells to react quickly when responding to a threat, resulting in a lowered risk and enhanced immune response.*
Not only can beta-glucans support immunity, but they also offer respiratory support, cholesterol-balancing benefits, and more.*
What are Beta Glucans?
Beta-glucans are a non-starch polysaccharide, otherwise known as a prebiotic fiber. They are found in the cell walls of fungi (yeast) that trigger an immune response as the body jumps to defend itself against foreign pathogens. These complex carbohydrates are made of fibrous material and are considered to be immunomodulators, substances that boost immune function by improving the immune system’s response to a threat.
By acting on immune receptors, beta-glucans boost immune cell activity by stimulating T-cells, neutrophils, macrophages, natural killer cells, monocytes, and dendritic cells. The body’s first line of nonspecific immune defense is commonly referred to as innate immune function. This encompasses responses such as pain and swelling, which result from the body’s normal and necessary inflammatory response, and is followed by a more specific response to targeted pathogens from the adaptive immune system. Studies show that beta-glucans might offer immune-modulating benefits to both systems.*
Since beta-glucans are a prebiotic fiber, they also play an important role in building a healthy gut microbiome by promoting growth of a wide variety of healthy gut bacteria species and crowding out potentially harmful ones.*
Can Beta Glucans Help with Respiratory Pathways?*
While more studies on this topic are needed, initial research shows that beta-glucans seem to support healthy upper respiratory function, diminishing the impact of foreign invaders, boosting overall well-being and energy, and even improving mood.*
Beta glucans could be extremely beneficial for high-risk populations like the elderly and children, as well as athletes, for general immune and respiratory support.*
Other Immunomodulation Benefits of Beta-Glucans*
Beta glucans are a soluble fiber, so they naturally slow the transit time of food from the mouth through the intestinal tract. As a result, food and supplement sources of beta-glucans likely support balanced blood sugar and healthy cholesterol levels.
Research suggests that yeast-derived beta-glucans could positively impact total and LDL cholesterol by affecting its absorption in the gut, along with more rapid cell repair and weight management benefits.* Beta glucan derived from mushrooms, like maitake and the Chinese mushroom group, seem to be especially potent immunomodulators.*
Along with supplemental forms of beta-glucans, the following food sources are abundant, inexpensive, and accessible to most people:
Oats and other whole grains
Reishi, maitake, and shiitake mushrooms
Beta-glucan is naturally found in these foods. If you opt for nutritional supplements instead of food sources, always choose high-quality products and consult your functional medicine provider for appropriate dosage. Certain conditions can be contraindicated for beta-glucans supplementation, such as autoimmune conditions.
Beta-glucans have been found to be important for immune-modulation and may offer other impressive health benefits.* Well-known immune-boosting foods like maitake mushrooms and the Chinese mushroom group are especially rich in beta-glucans, along with sea vegetables, oats, and other whole grains.
By Dr. Matt Hand, DO
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
 Vetvicka, V., Vannucci, L., Sima, P., & Richter, J. (2019). Beta Glucan: Supplement or Drug? From Laboratory to Clinical Trials. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 24(7), 1251. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24071251
 Chan, G. C., Chan, W. K., & Sze, D. M. (2009). The effects of beta-glucan on human immune and cancer cells. Journal of hematology & oncology, 2, 25. https://doi.org/10.1186/1756-8722-2-25
 Talbott SM, Talbott JA. Baker's yeast beta-glucan supplement reduces upper respiratory symptoms and improves mood state in stressed women. J Am Coll Nutr. 2012 Aug;31(4):295-300. doi: 10.1080/07315724.2012.10720441. PMID: 23378458.
 Stier, H., Ebbeskotte, V., & Gruenwald, J. (2014). Immune-modulatory effects of dietary Yeast Beta-1,3/1,6-D-glucan. Nutrition journal, 13, 38. https://doi.org/10.1186/1475-2891-13-38
DON'T MISS OUT! THE DAVINCI BLOG WILL KEEP YOU INFORMED:
Subscribe to get email notifications about the latest Davinci blog posts