With the peak holiday season now in full flow and the exciting prospect of travel abroad for much needed relaxation, adventure or indulgence, your thoughts may be naturally turning towards protecting your health while you are away. This may be through sun protection such as astaxanthin or natural sun creams or maybe you are thinking about some form of digestive support. However there is one special little polysaccharide that may be just what you’re looking for to help protect you and your loved ones from illness while in foreign environments.
Beta Glucan is a non-starch polysaccharide present in oats, barley, yeast, rye and mushrooms. A recently published (1) research study has found that Beta Glucans can function to create gut balance and provide an effective immune system boost, helping to increasing your immune system before your holiday and while away, which is a great way to support your body from new germs and changes in lifestyle. As discussed recently in the bodykind blog, supporting the gut is an important aspect when looking for ways to boost your immune system. Beta Glucans act to strengthen your body’s natural resistance to bugs through the digestive system, lowering the likelihood of contracting illnesses such as colds and flu. Furthermore, Beta Glucans could significantly enhance the survival of probiotics which have also been associated with increased immunity through improved ‘friendly gut bacteria’, reducing the dreaded ‘holiday tummy’ so many of us suffer from while away.
Additionally, Beta Glucans have been shown to increase immune activity through their ability to resist harmful bacteria, viruses and pathogens (3) acting as a safeguard for your health. This makes them a great addition to your pre-holiday routine. They also have the amazing ability of sensing fungal infections and releasing the necessary defending properties to deactivate the infection and reduce inflammation (4). Moreover increased resistance through Beta Glucans have been shown against many different infections including Streptococcus, potentially reducing the need for antibiotics, especially useful while away on holiday.
There are numerous longer term benefits of enhancing your supplementation regimen with a Beta Glucan. They are reported to help reduce the risk of other illnesses and diseases such as tuberculosis and those that are septic and they have also been shown to promote anti tumour activity. (2) In addition to these health benefits, Beta Glucan has been found to potentially reduce cholesterol and the likelihood of contracting diabetes and can also improve the lipid and glucose profiles of those already suffering from diabetes and hypertension (5).
This means that although this may begin as a holiday protector, continuation of this ‘invader defender’ may bring fantastic benefits to your health all year round.
As well as in supplement form, Beta Glucan is naturally found in oats, barley, yeast, rye and mushrooms and can also be fortified to foods such as bread and cereals.
Written by Lauren Foster
(1) Stack, H.M., Kearney, N Stanton, C., Fitzgerald, G.F. and Ross, R.P. (2010). Association of Beta-Glucan Endogenous Production with Increased Stress Tolerance of Intestinal Lactobacilli. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 76, p. 500–507.
(2) Image courtesy of Salvatore Vuono.
(3) Murphya, E. A., Davisb, J.M. and Carmichael, M.D. (2010) Immune modulating effects of b-glucan. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care, 13, 656–661.
(4) Kankkunen, P., Teirilä, L. Rintahaka, J., Alenius, H., Wolff, H. and Matikainen, S. (2010) 1,3 -b-Glucans Activate Both Dectin-1 and Inflammasome in Human Macrophages. Journal of Immunology, 184, 6335-6342.
(5) S. Liatis, P. Tsapogas, E. Chala, C. Dimosthenopoulos, K. Kyriakopoulos, E. Kapantais, N. Katsilambros. (2009) The consumption of bread enriched with betaglucan reduces LDL-cholesterol and improves insulin resistance in patients with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes & Metabolism, 35, 115–120.