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Beta 1,3/1,6 Glucan is an all-natural, food-based dietary supplement purified from the cell wall of baker's yeast (Saccharomyes cerevisae). Technically it is a highly refined carbohydrate made up of a string of glucose molecules, with the fats, proteins and other polysaccharides removed. Other sources of Beta Glucan are oats, barley, mushrooms and algae. Most of these are only slightly active, or in some cases not at all. For optimum activation of the immune response, many research studies show that the best results come from Beta 1,3/1,6 Glucan extracted from baker's yeast.
How does Beta Glucan work?
Beta Glucan stimulates the macrophage, a white blood cell that is responsible for a multitude of actions which protect and enhance the immune system, and provide optimum resistance to any possible health assailants. Macrophage cells are one of the principal cell types involved in natural immunity. They swallow up foreign particles and destroy them. Macrophages produce chemicals that signal other immune cells to move to the site of infection and produce such effects as fever. Macrophages also produce growth factors for cells that repair injured tissues.
All immune functions are improved, including phagocytosis (ability to engulf foreign cells and particles) release of certain cytokines (intercellular hormones) IL-1, IL-6, GM-CSF, interferons, and the processing of antigens. Macrophages are involved in everyday detoxifying processes, intestinal flora maintenance, anti-infective and anti-tumor protection and maintenance of overall health integrity.
Beta Glucan taken orally differs from other food substances. This type of Glucan is acid resistant so it passes through the stomach virtually unchanged. Macrophages in the mucous lining of the intestinal wall pick up the beta Glucan particles through beta Glucan receptors. Immediate activation of these cells follows, and they are later able to travel back to the local lymph nodes (Peyer's Patch) as part of their natural antigen-presenting function, to release cytokines and induce systematic immune activation.
Are the effects of Beta Glucan backed by scientific research?
Yes, numerous scientific studies originating from such prestigious institutions as Tulane University and Harvard Medical School exist to attest to the immuno-activating and protective effects of Beta 1,3/1,6 Glucan.
Who should take Beta 1,3/1,6 Glucan?
Anyone who wants to maintain or enhance the effectiveness of his or her immune system; people who experience daily stress; those who want to slow the aging process; people who are susceptible to allergies, autoimmune disease, infectious disease, slow and incomplete healing, and those who suffer from HIV/AIDS, or cancer. Beta Glucan should be taken as a daily supplement because your immune system will fluctuate from day to day. When it's in its "down" phases of this cycle, you will be prone to illness. People who have impaired immunity from any cause including chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, or persistent viruses, can take beta Glucan to bolster their defenses. Those who suffer from chronic degenerative disorders such as diabetes mellitus or chronic inflammation may also benefit from Beta Glucan's immune enhancement. Those habitually exposed to environmental pollutants, UV radiation, and other toxins could benefit from the antioxidant effect and potent free-radical scavenger effects.
What dosage of Beta Glucan should I take?
Studies have established a recommended human dosage of approximately 2 milligrams of Beta Glucan daily per kilogram of body weight [body weight /2.2 =Kilos X 25 = Mg/day | 130 pounds in body weight = 1,500 mg]. This dosage of particulate yeast Beta Glucan is based on results of a human biomarker clinical study and is consistent with the effective dose in more than one dozen animal studies.
How important is Beta Glucan purity?
The difference may have significant health consequences. As with many foods, a small portion of the population should avoid Baker's yeast. Extensive research has demonstrated that a component of the yeast cell called "mannan" may trigger an allergic reaction or inflammatory bowel flare in individuals with yeast allergies, Inflammatory Bowel Disease or Crohn's Disease. Unfortunately, some Beta Glucan dietary supplements manufacturers fail to adequately separate the Beta Glucan from the mannan and mannoproteins and other components of the yeast cell.
The situation on the current market can be even more confusing. There are companies offering Glucans from various sources, Glucans of various activities and of course, Glucans differing in price. Unfortunately, several commercial sources of Beta Glucan offer inferior product, consisting either from crude extracts or mostly from glucose or mannose. When trying to decide which Beta Glucan is the best, always look for respected manufacturer backing its Glucan with its own research. Remember that every company can put together a list of scientific paper, but only the good company is involved in independent research and has respected scientist on board.
Are there any side effects and can I take Beta Glucan when I am on other medication?
Beta 1,3/1,6 Glucan is a baker's yeast extract which has been given a G.R.A.S. rating (Generally Regarded As Safe) by the FDA. In order to obtain this rating, no known side effects or adverse reactions can be associated with the substance. Furthermore, there are no known adverse effects when taken in conjunction with pharmacological drugs or herbal remedies. In fact, Beta 1,3/1,6 Glucan has been shown to enhance the effects of antibiotics and cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Can I over stimulate my immune system with Beta 1-3/1-6 Glucan?
Whereas there are some immune support supplements that can over stimulate your immune system, Beta 1-3/1-6 Glucan is not one of these. With Beta 1-3/1-6 Glucan you can not over stimulate your immune system. The macrophage stays in an alert or ready mode until the presence of "non-self" entities such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, cancer, parasites, etc. are detected, at which time the macrophage is activated and becomes the first line of defense against any invader.
Is "Micronized" Beta Glucan Better?
There is a large body of preclinical animal research demonstrating the effectiveness of Whole Glucan Particle Beta Glucan in cancer, radiation and several infectious disease models. There are no controlled and published studies demonstrating the effectiveness of submicron particles in a disease model system.
How long has Beta Glucan been studied and why haven't I heard of this before?
Beta Glucan has been studied for over 30 years and has long been available to laboratories and medical schools - often at a very high cost. Only recently have reputable dietary supplement manufacturers perfected manufacturing processes which can provide a pure, potent supply of Beta Glucan at a reasonable cost.
Vaclav Vetvicka, Ph.D. is an Associate Professor at the Department of Pathology, Division of Experimental Immunology and Immunopathology of the School of Medicine, University of Louisville, Louisville, Kentucky.
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