Beta 1,3 Glucan: Nature's Immune Booster
Beta glucan is going from an obscure compound that no one has ever heard of to being recommended by mainstream health experts — and for good reason! There are over 20,000 peer-reviewed articles discussing beta glucan in medical and scientific journals. Many of them focus on its powerful immune-boosting actions, but they also study beta glucan’s effects on gut health, stress and mood health, liver health, and much more.
What is Beta Glucan?
Beta glucans are polysaccharides, or long chains of glucose molecules, present in algae, bacteria, yeast, fungi, and plants like oats and barley. Most beta glucans, including the types found in fungi, oats, and barley, serve as structural components in the cell wall — much like the beams in a house. The beta glucan in an algae called Euglena gracilis, however, is different. It serves as the algae’s energy storage and is found floating freely within the cell.
Fun facts about Euglena gracilis algae:
Euglena gracilis is a freshwater species of single-celled algae. They are heterophiles, which means they can live with or without sunlight, and they store energy in unique structures called paramylons. These paramylons, which are shaped like tiny hockey pucks, are made up of tightly wound linear beta 1,3-glucan molecules. There are so many of them that they can form between 20-80% of the cell’s weight.
The 1,3 in Beta 1,3-Glucan
Although there are multiple forms of beta glucan, only one configuration has the powerful immune-supportive effects validated by research — beta 1,3-glucan. Why is the 1,3 form so much more effective? It has to do with how the beta glucan molecules are linked to each other. For optimal immune effect, there must be linkages between the first and third carbons of each beta glucan molecule, with no other side branch linkages.
Why do these linkages matter? Beta 1,3-glucan linked in this way creates a linear chain versus a branched chain. This linear chain is easier for your body to absorb, which in turn makes it easier for your immune system to recognize and utilize. Euglena gracilis has an abundance of these 1,3 linkages, far more than yeast, mushrooms, or any other food.
How Does Beta 1,3 Glucan Work?
Beta 1,3-glucan is a “biological response modifier.” Our immune cells have beta glucan receptors which allow them to recognize and interact with the compound. Beta 1,3-glucan modulates a healthy immune response by activating these immune cells and making them better, more productive versions of themselves. It does this in two key ways.
Primes Innate Immune Response
When we ingest beta 1,3-glucan, it passes into the intestines and then gets transported into the lymphatic system where it can interact with our immune cells. Phagocytes are the Pac-Man-like immune cells that detect, engulf, and destroy germs. Beta 1,3-glucan binds to receptors on these germ assassins, and increases their phagocytic abilities. These phagocytes are our “innate” immune response or first line of health defense.
Promotes Adaptive Immune Response
Once the immune cells on the front line are activated, they sound the alarm by releasing signaling molecules which signal to other immune cells to come and bring reinforcements — a process called “recruitment.” Beta 1,3-glucan promotes this cell signaling without overstimulating the system. It helps recruit more immune cells as part of the “adaptive” immune response, or second line of defense.
Supports Digestive Tract Health
Research shows that beta glucan supports healthy gut bacteria in various ways. For example, it acts as a prebiotic. This means that it serves as food for the good bacteria in our gut. The bacteria like to eat it so much, in fact, that beta glucan promotes the growth of more beneficial bacteria like lactobacillus and bifidobacteria. This is a win-win since these gut bacteria help optimize digestion, but they also produce short chain fatty acids which help with healthy immune function. Another way beta glucan supports digestive tract health is by protecting gut barrier integrity and function.
Benefits of Beta 1,3 Glucan
Some of the health benefits of beta 1,3-glucan substantiated by scientific research are:
- Supports a healthy immune system and optimal immune function
- Boosts key immune cells (such as macrophages, dendritic cells, and neutrophils)
- Protects against oxidative stress
- Supports respiratory tract health
- Promotes a healthy inflammatory response
- Supports digestive tract health
- Protects gut barrier integrity and function
- Promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria (such as Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria)
SuperPure® Beta 1,3 Glucan
Beta 1,3-glucan is most commonly extracted from yeast, often with harsh chemicals, and is usually not nearly concentrated enough. SuperPure Beta 1,3-Glucan, on the other hand, is a natural beta 1,3-glucan derived exclusively from Euglena gracilis algae. This water-extracted form is incredibly pure, highly concentrated to 500 mg beta 1,3 glucan per capsule, easily bioavailable to your immune cells, and more economical to boot.
What Makes SuperPure® Beta 1,3-Glucan Stand Out?
- A yeast & allergen-free option derived exclusively from nutrient-rich algae
- 500 mg Beta 1,3-Glucan from 700 mg Euglena gracilis algae per capsule
- No harsh chemical solvents, excipients, or preservatives used
- GMO-free, Gluten-free, Vegan, Kosher
- Grown & manufactured in the USA using eco-friendly processes
Beta 1,3-Glucan Side Effects
Beta 1,3-glucan has been approved as generally recognized as safe (GRAS) by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, beta glucans may interfere with some medications such as drugs that suppress the immune system. So, talk to your health care practitioner if you are taking any medications.
Beta 1,3-glucan is a natural compound found in mushrooms, yeast, and algae. It’s most highly concentrated and bioavailable in an algae called Euglena gracilis. Beta 1,3-glucan puts our immune system on high alert, makes our immune cells more productive versions of themselves, and supports digestive health. In this day and age, we could all use healthy immune support!