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Natures Defense Force: Beta Glucan is a compound that the majority of the general public have absolutely no awareness of. It has proven health benefits, covering over 60 years of peer reviewed studies. Researchers and scientist in the health field having deemed it one of the most important discoveries in immune support for its proven ability to effectively support and improve the immune system--.
Beta Glucan is classified as an immunomodulator or biological response modifier, which is a compound that reacts to a threat upon the immune support system by modifying its response. Properly derived from a natural food source it can be utilized as a dietary supplement. It keeps the macrophages, i.e. white blood cells properly balanced and in a constant state of readiness in order for the immune system to respond to any perceived threat.
The macrophages are the primary ‘non-specific’ defense mechanisms of our body who’s primary jobs is to located and identify ‘self’ from ‘non-self’ and attack and destroy the ‘non-self’ invaders. In the process of destroying the invaders anti-bodies are produced by the macrophage which intern help create the immune specific response in order to completely defeat the invader. By having the macrophages in a constant state of readiness a cascading effect occurs, all other immune responses are faster and more effective, including the specific.
In the past 60 years, Beta glucan has been the subject of over 1500+ research studies, many of these studies have been undertaken at some of the most prestigious institutions worldwide. These include the DOD, Harvard, Mayo Clinic and many other highly respected institutions. This compound has been tested on almost every recognized human disease and health issue. They have found popular use in human nutrition as texturing agents and functional foods.
Here is a short review of the proven benefits of Beta Glucan;
You may research Beta Glucan, for yourself, on MEDLINE, one of the largest medical research/studies archive in the world. The Internet Address may be found at: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed.
Where looking into what type of Beta glucan product you are interested in, there are some important factors you must take into consideration;
β-Glucans are complex sugars called polysaccharides. They are D-glucose monomers linked by β-glycosidic bonds. Monomers are a molecule which usually bind chemically to other molecules to form a polymer. Glucose is the most common natural monomer.
β-glucans can be derived from a wide variety of plants, some of the most popular are; barley, mushrooms, oat and bakers yeast. Further it has been shown that depending what the Beta glucan compound is derived from will determine what type of beneficial effects.
Bakers Yeast Derived Beta Glucan: Properly extracted glucan compounds from bakers yeast appear to show that it appears to be the ‘kitchen-sink’ glucan compound. It provides a wide range of benefits. One discovery of particular note is that yeast (1,3) Beta glucan is known to bind directly to the Dectin-1 receptor on macrophages, which supplies us with the first line of defense against destructive bacteria and other serious known health issues. Received through the intestinal tract, Dectin-1 (also known as CLEC7A) is a pattern-recognition receptor that detects β-glucans and triggers direct cellular antimicrobial activity, including phagocytosis and production of reactive oxygen species (ROS), i.e. it activates the macrophage to successfully act as a molecular scavenger. Another receptor known as the CR3 receptor on leukocytes is known to help to fight off infection and fight tumor growth when it binds with Beta glucan.
Theses Beta glucans binding sites play an important role within the immune system, and are also capable of activating other immune cells such as neutrophils. They are also effective in promoting the release of leukotienes, which are instrumental in fighting infection.
Sepsis, a commonly found issue after receiving invasive surgery, an injury as a result of radiation and when undergoing irradiation, has the potential to be prevented by the use of yeast Beta glucan. Extensive research into alternative medicinal treatments shows there is a strong potential for yeast Beta glucan to also be effective in preventing pathogenic infections. Preliminary research has also shown that these bakers yeast derived compounds also provide health blood and cholesterol benefits.
Mushroom derived compounds have been known for their health benefits for centuries in Asia. Studies have that indicated that some species of mushrooms have anticancer effects. It has been found to slow or halt the progression of colorectal carcinoma. It also protects a type of immune cells known as lymphocytes from DNA damage, which can also result in blood cancer (lymphoma).
Beta Glucan is concentrated in the fruiting bodies of mushrooms. Independent research has shown that mushroom derived from stimulates tumor necrosis factor. Another study showed they are able to turn on infection-fighting cytokines.
Lentinan, which is derived from shiitake mushrooms was shown to block colon cancer cell progression in mice. While there has been studies conducted on other health conditions, the mushroom benefits appear to provide the most benefits in the area derived products do not appear to have good immune support characteristics.
There is a great deal of issues surrounding the effectiveness of this compound. It centers around the level of purity of the main glucose linkage and manufacturing quality standards. Research has proven revealed that Beta glucan's efficacy is controlled by the ideal level of purity of glucose and the 1,3-D molecular linkage. There are many manufactures that do not even take these important issues into consideration during the manufacturing process. Further the purity level; i.e the amount of the 1,3-D present in the compound has to be 85% or higher.
Many manufactures simply bottle pure bakers yeast and call it Beta 1, 3-D glucan. Yes the 1, 3-D glucan linkage is present, however its not present in the correct amount. Most products only contain about a 60 purity level of the 1, 3-D glucose linkage and they contain unwanted contaminates that may actually produce adverse conditions. On the other hand properly derived Beta Glucan from the right source can provide the beneficial results as found in the studies listed in this article. In order to have an effect Beta Glucan product you have to understand what to look for in a product, to learn more on how to compare Beta Glucan go to VitaminPROS.
 Czop, Joyce K., “The Role of Beta.-Glucan Receptors on Blood and Tissue Leukocytes in Phagocytosis and Metabolic Activation”. Pathology and Immunopathology Research; 5:286-296. Harvard Medical School. 1986.
 Penna C, Dean P, Nelson H (Dept of Surgery-Mayo Clinic); “Pulmonary metastases neutralization and tumor rejection by in vivo administration of beta glucan and bispecific antibody;” Int J Cancer, 65.3,377-82. Jan 1996.
 An Evaluation of the Immunological Activities of Commercially Available β1, 3-Glucans, JANA Vol. 10, No. 1, 2007
 Effects of Glucan on Immunosuppressive Actions of Mercury, JOURNAL OF MEDICINAL FOOD
J Med Food 12 (5) 2009, 1–7
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