It has been said that “if you have your health, you have everything.” And to sustain good health and well-being, it is critical to support a robust immune system.
Beta glucans have recently come under close study due to their effect on the immune system. These polysaccharides aren’t one single molecule, but a whole class of similarly-shaped sugars that are found in the cell walls of certain bacteria and fungi.
Beta glucans are also extracted from various plants, such as oats, mushrooms, and barley. Scientists now understand how beta glucans interact with the immune system and how this can strengthen the immune response to various pathogens1.
Numerous studies point to the efficacy of beta glucan—both as being recognized by the immune system, as well as activating certain parts of the immune system. Beta glucan has also been shown to be an antioxidant, helping to protect your cells against oxidative stress3 and promoting skin health4.
And if that's not enough, there's a strong enough link between beta glucans and cholesterol reduction that the FDA has approved beta glucans to be used in cholesterol-lowering medications and improving heart health5.
Our most highly recommended product that harnesses the power of these ultimate immune-system-boosting powerhouses is iNR Wellness MD.
In general, your immune system is very good at fighting off bacteria and viruses that cause disease. But several environmental and internal factors can cause your immune system to become compromised, making it less capable of fighting off foreign invaders.
Some viruses affect your immune system and make it weaker. The two most well-known of these are HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) and viral hepatitis. HIV directly infects CD4 cells, which are a significant part of your immune system response.
Once the viral load reaches a high enough level to impact the immune system, patients develop AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome).
Viral hepatitis affects liver cells and can lead to secondary complications, including a weakened immune system, as it has to continually fight off chronic viral infections.
There are some medicines which can affect the way your immune system functions. Chemotherapy and other cancer drugs affect your immune system as a side effect of the therapy. Some medicines are used specifically to suppress your immune response, including medicines given to patients after organ transplants, and anti-allergy medications.
Finally, there are also some environmental factors that can affect your immune system, including smoking, alcohol, malnutrition, and compromised gut health.
Many companies are now selling beta glucan products, both online and in health retail stores. However, while many of these companies will make claims about their products, they tend to focus on the total amount of beta glucan in their products, without considering the quality or source of those beta glucans. iNR Wellness beta glucans are formulated with both quality and source in mind.
Beta glucans are not all the same, and ones derived from bacteria will vary quite a lot from those derived from plant-based sources. This variability makes it easy to see why it's not only the amount of beta glucan that's important, the source and purity are essential as well.
Beta glucans that are not at least 95% pure tend to clump in the intestinal tract, meaning your body absorbs much less of it.
Many beta glucan supplements only contain 1,3 beta glucan, which is derived from oats and has been the target of many health studies. This form of beta glucan has been shown to lower cholesterol and is picked up by the immune system via the Dectin-1 receptor6.
However, there are other beta glucans, namely those derived from baker's yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae), that control many other aspects of the immune system, such as cytokine production and phagocytosis7.
So, having a combination of sources is useful in getting the full range of benefits that beta glucans can offer.
The FDA-approved extraction process used by iNR Wellness MD results in beta glucan products that are over 95% pure, allowing for more bioavailable beta glucan per mg of product. They also use three different sources of beta glucans, including oats, reishi mushroom extract, and baker's yeast.
These each target a different part of your immune system, providing excellent immune system support. Together, they can also act as a gut health supplement, helping your gut flora fight off any unwanted bacteria affecting your gut health.
Nature's Balance offers one of the most popular beta glucan supplements; this product contains 90% pure 1,3 beta glucan obtained from baker's yeast. However, if you check the nutritional label, you'll see that it also contains 1,6 linked beta glucans, which are the ones that activate more components of the immune system.
Each package contains 60-500 mg capsules; Nature's Balance suggests 25 mg of beta glucan per kilogram of body weight, meaning you need to take several tablets to ensure you get enough beta glucans to stimulate your immune system.
The main concern with this product is its purity. Nature's Balance uses a patented system of enzymatic extraction that ensures that even low-density beta glucans are extracted; this results in a product that is only ~90% pure.
As low-purity 1,3 beta glucans tend to aggregate in the intestine, it's hard to determine how much of the beta glucan in this product is bioavailable.
Supplement Spot is another highly-rated beta glucan supplement that uses beta glucans derived from microbial fermentation of glucose.
Their capsules each contain 400 mg of both 1,3 and 1,6 beta glucans at 90% purity. As with the previous product, this supplement offers a decent amount of varied beta glucans but at a relatively low purity.
As mentioned before, low impurity may impact bioavailability; this product also uses only one source, which limits beta glucan variety.
The function of your immune system is to fight off disease, and the main sign of a weakened immune system is when you get chronic, constant infections that you struggle to fight off.
If you find yourself constantly sick, and for longer than usual, your immune system is likely weakened and you may need additional immune system support.
Normal amounts of stress will most likely not affect your immune system too much, but there is evidence that chronic stress can directly lead to immunosuppression and adverse health effects2.
The reason that stress can affect your immune system is that when you're stressed, you release a hormone that can interfere with the function of various immunological functions, such as producing new antibodies or interfering with the immune system’s ability to attack existing pathogens in your body.
The impact of beta glucans on oxidative stress, cholesterol levels, and immune system function has been studied extensively. Various beta glucans have different functions, and different sources yield beta glucans of varying molecular weights and properties8.
The FDA has approved beta glucan supplements to advertise that they improve heart health by lowering cholesterol5, but so far no other claims can be made. For instance, beta glucans have shown promise in the prevention of cancer by inhibiting tumor growth9 and strengthening immune response10, but many of these claims are based either on in vitro or in vivo animal models, with very few human clinical trials being carried out to verify these claims11.
The science points to beta glucans being highly effective in increasing well-being in several different ways, from suppressing tumor growth to lowering cholesterol and improving the body's immune response and ability to fight off infections. Beta glucans have been extensively studied over decades, and the mechanism of what they do is relatively well-understood8.
Each claim needs to be examined separately and rigorous human trials conducted for each claim. So yes, beta glucans do work, but we need additional human trials to solidify that claim12.
Beta glucans are a large group of polysaccharides that can be derived from fungi, bacteria, and plants. They have shown strong medical potential as antimicrobial, anticancer, cholesterol-lowering, anti-diabetic, and even gut health-promoting compounds.
While many supplements focus on the quantity of beta glucan in their products, they don't really focus on the purity or sources of their beta glucans. This can lead to lowered bioavailability and lowered efficacy, despite being a higher dose.
iNR uses an FDA-approved process to obtain 95% purity while using three different sources of beta glucans. These three sources provide you with all the different beta glucans you need to boost your immune system, as well as lower your cholesterol and potentially improve your skin health and overall well-being.
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