What are beta glucans? Beta-glucans are glucose polysaccharides, or sugars, that are naturally present in the cell walls of bacteria, yeasts, algae, plants, and cereals such as oats and barley. They are a form of soluble dietary fibre that can be used to treat high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and to boost immunity.
If cholesterol levels in the blood get too high, fatty deposits can develop in the blood vessels. These deposits - called triglycerides - can grow over time, blocking the blood vessels and making it difficult for blood to flow through your arteries. Your body needs a certain amount of good cholesterol (HDL) to build and maintain healthy cells. But, if left unchecked, high levels of bad cholesterol (LDL) can increase your risk of cancer, heart disease and stroke.
Beta glucans are becoming increasingly talked about in the current climate, as people look for new ways to boost their immune systems by altering their diets to include more immune-boosting foods, and ramping up their supplement intake to support the body’s natural defences.
So which beta glucan containing foods should you be eating if you want to enhance and boost your immunity? Read on for our top five foods to help lower cholesterol and support your immune system.
1. Oats and other whole grain
Beta glucans are found in soluble fibre form in oats and other whole grains such as bran, wheat and barley. The high levels of beta glucan present in oats are indigestible, so they travel the entire length of the digestive tract without being absorbed. As beta glucans travel through your system, they effectively ‘mop up’ any bad cholesterol in your digestive tract and take the cholesterol out with it when they leave your body. Furthermore, oats encourage a viscous layer to develop on the intestinal walls which aids transit and promotes enhanced gut health. Gut health has been shown to be an important factor in maintaining a healthy immune system.
2. Baker’s yeasts
Baker’s yeasts are an easy, purified and highly bioavailable way to incorporate more beta glucans into your diet. Baker’s yeasts can be found in bread products, but they can also be consumed in supplement form. Wellmune™, as formulated in LYMA, is a yeast-derived beta glucan that has been purified, making it a great way to reap the immune-boosting benefits associated with baker’s yeasts if you are gluten intolerant or sensitive to wheat or other whole grains. Wellmune™ is the only yeast beta glucan that is supported by over a dozen published, peer-reviewed clinical studies. The highly specialized 1,3 1,6 beta glucan is clinically proven to boost our innate, rapid fire immune system, priming white blood cells' neutrophils and macrophages to engage with foreign pathogens. Wellmune® has been shown to be the fastest-acting and most effective beta glucan supplement on the market at fighting off foreign bodies and keeping you in prime health.
3. Seaweed and algae
Beta glucans found in seaweed and algae can be eaten in their raw form, but are often extracted, processed and added to supplements or used to fortify other foods. Algae-derived beta glucans are highly bioavailable and seaweed and algae - such as wakame, dulse and spirulina - contain additional marine plant compounds believed to have antioxidant and anti-allergenic properties. Research has shown that the beta glucans in seaweed may be particularly potent in the battle against viruses such as herpes and HIV. HIV sufferers who supplemented with 5 grams of spirulina per day in dietary form developed 27% fewer disease-related symptoms than a placebo group.
4. Mushrooms - specifically, reishi, shiitake, and maitake
Mushrooms - specifically, reishi, shiitake, and maitake varieties - have become recognised as having immune-modulating and anti-tumour properties. The polysaccharides present in these mushrooms may be responsible for their immune-boosting effects. The beta glucans present in these mushroom varieties have been shown to activate white blood cells to switch on their immune response. The beta glucans in mushrooms have also been shown to have a positive effect on blood sugar regulation, with research findings suggesting that they have the potential to decrease glycemic response by up to 25%.
5. Fruits and vegetables
Some fruits and vegetables are particularly high in immune-boosting and cholesterol-lowering beta glucans. These include beans, peas, lentils, broccoli, sweet potato, aubergine (eggplant), apples, strawberries and prunes. They are also rich in vitamins, fiber, micronutrients, antioxidants and minerals and contain zero cholesterol in the first instance.
Whilst all of the above foods can and should be incorporated into an immune-boosting, cholesterol-lowering, beta glucan-rich diet, remember that not all beta glucans are created equal. Nothing comes close to Wellmune® in terms of how quickly it gets to work, and how effective it is at fighting off pathogens. In the LYMA formula, Wellmune® is combined with seven additional patented ingredients , is natural, safe, has no known side-effects and can be taken every day. If you are worried about high cholesterol, ask your doctor to check your levels to check that ratios of HDL and LDL present in your blood are safe.