What is Beta Glucan?
Beta-glucans are natural complex carbohydrates that can be found in various types of food such as Baker’s yeast, mushrooms, oats, barley, seaweed and algae. (1) Different sources of beta-glucan provide different health benefits to the human body.
Yeast Beta Glucan and Oat Beta Glucan: What’s The Difference?
The two most common types of beta-glucan are from yeast and oat. Both types of beta glucan have different functions due to their different chemical structure and properties. (1) Yeast beta-glucans, which are usually extracted from the cell walls of the yeast, have immunomodulating abilities and thus, can help strengthen our immunity. (1) On the other hand, beta-glucan from oats is often used for improving heart health and cholesterol levels.
Yeast Beta Glucan and Immune Health
The mechanism on how yeast beta-glucan helps strengthen our immunity lies in its ability to collaborate with the immune system. Yeast beta-glucans activate macrophages by attaching to its surface. Macrophages are white blood cells that kill bacteria and other pathogens. This process increases its ability to identify and kill pathogens. When this happens, other immune cells will be activated and thus, enhancing the production of antibodies. (1,2)
Yeast beta-glucan may protect you against cold and help reduce symptoms
Studies have shown that daily intake of yeast beta-glucan is associated with a decrease of common cold incidences amongst adults, especially during the common cold season. Symptoms such as runny nose and cough are significantly reduced. (3,4) These results show that yeast beta-glucan is able to increase the body’s defense system against pathogens.
Doses up to 400 mg of Yeast beta-glucan can help stimulate antibody production
In another study amongst healthy adults, yeast beta-glucan is able to stimulate the production of a type of antibody called immunoglobin A, which protects the body from pathogens by preventing them from attaching to the cells. Immunoglobin A levels are increased in individuals after taking 100 to 400mg of yeast beta-glucan for 4 consecutive days. (5)
Yeast beta-glucan can work together with other nutrients to enhance your immunity
There are also studies that demonstrate the synergistic effects of yeast beta-glucan and other vitamins such as vitamin C and D. A study on children aged 2 to 10 years show that combining beta-glucan and vitamin C significantly reduces incidences of respiratory infections. (6) In a recent study, yeast beta-glucan and vitamin D are able to increase immune response especially from macrophages. (7)
Other Potential Benefits of Beta Glucan (8)
- May help improve blood sugar levels
- May help reduce cholesterol levels
- May help regulate blood pressure
- May promote wound healing
Other Immunity Boosters
- Vitamin C
– A powerful antioxidant and one of the essential nutrients for a healthy immune system. It helps to strengthen immunity by stimulating the production of antibodies. (9,10)
- Vitamin D3
-Commonly known as the ‘sunshine vitamin. Besides being beneficial for bone health, it is also linked to immune system health. Vitamin D3 helps to regulate immune response and the activation of T-cells, which is another type of white blood cell. (9,11)
– A type of mineral essential to keep the immune system strong. It helps to fight infection and may prevent pathogens from replicating. (9,12)
– A natural antibiotic and one of the richest sources of bioflavonoids and antioxidants. It has anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties. (13)
– A type of herb which helps support immune health and may reduce the duration and symptom severity of flu and common colds. It helps to stimulate the production of white blood cells. (14)
- Akramiene D, Kondrotas A, Didziapetriene J, Kevelaitis E. Effects of beta-glucans on the immune system. Medicina (Kaunas). 2007;43(8):597-606.
- Moerings, B., de Graaff, P., Furber, M., Witkamp, R., Debets, R., Mes, J., van Bergenhenegouwen, J. and Govers, C., 2021. Continuous Exposure to Non-Soluble β-Glucans Induces Trained Immunity in M-CSF-Differentiated Macrophages. Frontiers in Immunology, 12.
- Graubaum H, Busch R, Stier H, Gruenwald J. A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Nutritional Study Using an Insoluble Yeast Beta-Glucan to Improve the Immune Defense System. Food and Nutrition Sciences. 2012;03(06):738-746.
- Auinger A, Riede L, Bothe G, Busch R, Gruenwald J. Yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-glucan helps to maintain the body’s defence against pathogens: a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, multicentric study in healthy subjects. European Journal of Nutrition. 2013;52(8):1913-1918.
- Lehne G, Haneberg B, Gaustad P, Johansen P, Preus H, Abrahamsen T. Oral administration of a new soluble branched beta-1,3-D-glucan is well tolerated and can lead to increased salivary concentrations of immunoglobulin A in healthy volunteers. Clinical and Experimental Immunology. 2006;143(1):65-69.
- Immunomodulatory effect of pleuran (β-glucan from Pleurotus ostreatus) in children with recurrent respiratory tract infections
- Bergandi L, Apprato G, Silvagno F. Vitamin D and Beta-Glucans Synergically Stimulate Human Macrophage Activity. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 2021;22(9):4869.
- Chen J. Beta-glucans in the treatment of diabetes and associated cardiovascular risks. Vascular Health and Risk Management. 2008;Volume 4:1265-1272.
- Recommended Nutrient Intakes Malaysia 2017.Putrajaya: National Coordinating Committee on Food and Nutrition, Ministry of Health Malaysia; 2017.
- Carr A. C., Maggini S. Vitamin C and Immune Function. Nutrients. 2017;9:1211.
- Aranow C. Vitamin D and the immune system. J Investig Med. 2011;59(6):881-6.
- Wessels I, Maywald M, Rink L. Zinc as a gatekeeper of immune function. Nutrients. 2017;9:1286
- Tao Y, Wang D, Hu Y, Huang Y, Yu Y, et al. The immunological enhancement activity of propolis flavonoids liposome in vitro and in vivo. Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2014;2014:483513
- Karsch-Volk M., Barrett B, Kiefer D, Bauer R, Ardjomand-Woelkart K, Linde K. Echinacea for preventing and treating the common cold. Cochrane Database Syst. Rev. 2014;2.