Beta Glucan, which is a natural immunomodulator, has become a market leader in treating and managing immunity and infection-related diseases. It is referred to as an immunomodulator because it will modulate and activate the immune system, but never over-stimulate it. In his book “Beta Glucan: Nature's Secret”, Dr. Vaclav Vetvicka Ph.D. from the Department of Pathology at the University of Louisville in Kentucky states that “there are other agents that stimulate the immune system. However, glucans are in a class apart, because those other agents can push the immune system to over stimulation. This means they can make matters worse in the case of auto-immune illnesses such as lupus, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, allergies and yeast functions. Glucans however do stimulate the immune system, but never to the point where it becomes overactive.”
What makes it so effective?
It is particularly beneficial if your system has been weakened by colds, flu, chronic fatigue syndrome, stress, radiation and chemotherapy. It is also an excellent supplement to take before and after surgery to help with recovery. Beta Glucan, also called yeast (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-D-glucan, is a highly purified insoluble powder that has been isolated from the cell walls of brewers' yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae). It contains the premium ingredient Yestimun®, which ensures that you get 85% (1,3)-(1,6)-beta-D-glucan from brewers' yeast. Yestimun® has scientifically shown its superiority as an anti-inflammatory and immune regulator in both the bloodstream and the fat tissue. Because beta glucan is insoluble, it is more potent than its soluble counterpart. It is transported across the intestinal cell wall into the lymph by enterocytes - epithelial cells found in the small intestine and colon which transport molecules. Once in the lymph, beta glucan starts to interact with the cells of our immune system and places it on standby so that it can react faster when the need arises.
Beta Glucan has been shown to strengthen the body’s defences and reduce the intensity and length of infections. It is able to do this as, it binds with the cells which play the most important role in the structure and function of our immune system - macrophages (large white blood cells), natural killer (NK) cells and neutrophils (granular white blood cells). Their main function is to destroy, amongst others, bacteria, dying or dead cells and mutated cells. When combined with beta glucan these important defence cells become more active and powerful. For example, beta glucan stimulates macrophages by increasing their number, size and function. This in turn sets off a chain reaction, activating the rest of the immune system (including T and B cell activity), making it more effective in destroying and removing cancerous, infected, dead, dying and mutated cells, as well as bacteria in the bloodstream. Research has shown that within a 24-hour period, beta glucan doubles the amount of macrophages present.
What is it good for?
Beta Glucan is best known for its ability to enhance the immune system and extensive research exists in this regard. In Berlin, Germany, 162 participants participated in a placebo-controlled, double-blind, randomised clinical trial that was run simultaneously at a number of clinics over 16 weeks. They found that common cold infections were reduced by 25%.
Because Beta Glucan can be used to maintain and boost your immune system it is an excellent natural alternative for in-flight protection and to enhance immunity within enclosed environments such as workplaces and public transport.
Stress and immunity are interrelated. Long term stress weakens your immune system and when you are ill and your immune response is in overdrive, it can bring on stress. When you are stressed out, the brain releases the hormones cortisol and catecholamines. Dr. Esher Sternberg who is the Founding Research Director for the Arizona Centre for Integrative Medicine at the University of Arizona at Tucson explains that: “Since cortisol shuts down immune cells’ responses, shifting them to a muted form, less able to react to foreign triggers, in the context of continued stress we are less able to defend and fight when faced with new invaders. And so, if you are exposed to, say, a flu or common cold virus when you are chronically stressed out, your immune system is less able to react and you become more susceptible to that infection.”
Beta Glucan has been shown to reduce stress levels and to maintain your immunity during stressful periods. An American study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, showed that women who used beta Glucan from baker’s yeast had 42% more vigour (physical energy, mental sharpness, and emotional well-being), 38% less fatigue, 19% decrease in tension and 15% less stress-related confusion.
New research is showing that beta glucan can have a positive impact on a wider range of conditions. These initial clinical studies are indicating that beta glucan can aid in the following:
- It shows remarkable potential in helping to treat asthma, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetic ulcers.
- It is very effective at repairing skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis, eczema
- It is excellent for anti-ageing and anti-wrinkling as it acts as an anti-oxidant and protects the skin against sun damage
- Stimulates antitumor and antimicrobial activity
- There are indications that it may decrease post-op infections and reduce sepsis in trauma patients
- It may lower cholesterol as it blocks the absorption of food-based cholesterol into the stomach and intestines
- Initial research shows that it can boost the immune system of HIV patients
How much should you take?
For best results, Beta Glucan needs to be taken daily and a double dose can be taken twice daily to help alleviate the first signs of a cold. It should be taken on an empty stomach, 30 – 60 minutes before eating (more info on when and how to use it, is contained on the label)