What are Beta-Glucans? – Its History/Origin, Uses, Advantages, FDA Approval

What are Beta-Glucans?

Beta glucans are biological response modifiers. It is the safest of all the natural fibre molecules present.

Beta glucans are sugars that are found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and plants, such as oats and barley.

β-Glucans (beta-glucans) comprise a group of β-D-glucose polysaccharides which occur naturally and are soluble in water. It is used in various nutraceuticals and food ingredient in baking, beverage, meat & dairy products.

Human body doesn’t produce β- Glucan, so it can be taken from outside source, such as yeast, oats, cereals, wheat, mushrooms. Barley has highest β- Glucan content followed by oats.

History & Origin of β-Glucans:

Cereals & Fungus have been used for centuries for their healing & immune stimulating properties, but their use in food industry was not known until 20th century. β- Glucans were 1st discovered in lichens and then after in barley.

Uses of β-Glucans:

  • β- Glucan is used as a food additive in salad dressing for its attractive look.
  • It is also used by some food industries as cheese spreads & in frozen desserts.
  • It used in various nutraceuticaland cosmetic products, as texturing agents, and as soluble fiber
  • It is used topically by certain people to treat their skin infections like dermatitis, wrinkles, burns etc.
  • It is used to treat cancer and helps people boosting their immune system.
  • It helps regulate immune system as it act as an immuno-modulator.

How does Beta Glucans Affects Body System?

 It’s a soluble fibre and it slows down food transit in the intestines, which means that it takes longer time for body to digest the food. In the process of slower digestion of food, sugar absorption is delayed and reduces the higher blood sugar level, which helps in maintaining the blood sugar level.

Advantages of β-Glucans:

  • β- Glucan helps control blood sugar level.
  • β- Glucan helps lowers high cholesterol level and helps fighting against cancer.
  • It helps boosting immune system.
  • It helps people recover from swine flu, influenza and other allergies.
  • Intake of β- Glucan in diet can treat constipation.
  • It maintains healthy gut bacteria.
  • It removes toxic substances from body.

Disadvantages of β-Glucans:

  • It can be problematic in the process of brewing.
  • This cannot be taken by the people suffering from Rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, asthma.

FDA Approval – Federal Register 21 CFR 101.81.

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