yeast beta glucan

Yeast beta glucans belong to the group of indigestible carbohydrates (fibers). They activate the immune system and thus support the body’s own defense against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Beta glucan from yeast not only gives results in strengthening immune system , but also when used in cancer. Read more about other effects of beta-glucan from yeast and when it is recommended to use it.

Properties of beta glucans

Beta-glucans are carbohydrates (more sugars) found in the cell walls of plants, grains, yeasts, and fungi. For example, they can be found in mushrooms such as Reishi, Shiitake, Maitake, and Cordyceps. For example, cereal products, such as oatmeal, provide beta-glucan from oats. The body cannot use beta-glucans for energy. Therefore, they are part of the dietary fiber.

Beta-glucans consist of individual sugar molecules interconnected by special bonds (glycosidic bonds). Unlike beta-glucans from plants and cereals, beta-glucans from yeast and fungi are related differently: they are mostly special beta-1,3 / 1,6-glucans.

Due to their different bonds with different molecular chains’ lengths, they are either soluble in water or insoluble in water. Yeast beta-glucans are predominantly insoluble fiber. Overall, beta-glucans have different effects and application areas depending on their structure and properties.

Yeast Beta glucan in food

Yeast beta-glucan Saccharomyces cerevisiae is often used in micronutrient medicine. This yeast is also known as baker’s yeast. So, this is yeast that is used for baking. That is why all bakery products with yeast also contain beta-glucans. Saccharomyces cerevisiae is also used for beer production. Another source of beta-glucans is yeast flakes, used as a spice. Dried yeast cell walls mainly consist of one-third of beta-glucan.

 

Should we take Beta Glucan every day?

beta glucan from yeast

Beta-glucans belong to the group of dietary fiber. The German Nutrition Society advises that adults should consume at least 30 grams of fiber a day.

However, there are no guidelines for beta-glucan intake. Yeast beta-glucans also act in small amounts. Their dietary fiber function is therefore not relevant. However, experts believe that yeast beta-glucans should not be lacking in everyday food.

Absorption and distribution in the body

Because beta-glucans are dietary fiber, they are by definition not absorbed in the small intestine: the body does not have any enzymes that break down beta-glucans. The fibers usually reach the large intestine and are metabolized by intestinal bacteria.

Yeast beta-glucans, however, have a special property and can enter the body by a detour: immune cells in the small intestine absorb yeast beta-glucan and migrate through the lymph vessels to the lymph nodes. After about four days, immune cells break down beta-glucan and release biologically efficient breakdown products (fragments). The breakdown products from yeast beta-glucans are probably available to the whole body through the lymphatic system.

It takes about two weeks for immune cells to completely break down yeast beta-glucan, which is why beta-glucan yeast has a slow and lasting effect.

Beta glucan functions in the body

Beta-glucans are not only part of the yeast cell walls in food. They are also found in certain pathogens’ cell walls: As “signal molecules” for bacteria and fungi, they show the body that it has been attacked, so the immune system needs to react.

Yeast beta-glucans also activate the immune response – but to a lesser extent, pathogens without causing disease symptoms. This creates a “training effect” for the body, which means that it is better protected from “real” attackers. In this way, yeast beta-glucans stimulate phagocytes (macrophages) that absorb foreign bodies and make them harmless. They also help natural killer cells kill pathogens and stimulate antibody production.

Beta-glucans are said to have a wide range of health-promoting effects:

  1. Immune weakness, infections, and cancer: yeast beta-glucans can help the body fight infections through the “training effect” on the immune system. They make the body ready for defense. Due to their immunostimulating effect, they are also said to have an anti-cancer if you.
  2. Allergy: yeast beta-glucans can alleviate allergies. How they do that remains to be explored. They probably develop this effect by reducing oxidative stress and reducing substances that promote inflammation.
  3. Wound healing: yeast beta-glucans can be used externally to improve wound healing. They promote the migration of immune cells into the wound. This stimulates skin and collagen regeneration. The body needs collagen to regenerate firm and stable skin.
  4. Metabolism, blood sugar, and cholesterol: yeast beta-glucan can lower blood sugar and lipid levels and reduce adipose tissue inflammation. He also reduced blood pressure and hip circumference in studying overweight people. Therefore, it can help with cardiovascular diseases. However, beta-glucan from oats is said to have a stronger effect, for example, on lowering cholesterol.
  5. Blood formation: Yeast beta-glucan can speed up blood formation.
  6. Antimutagens and antioxidants: Animal and laboratory studies indicate that yeast beta-glucans absorb oxidative stress, which can otherwise lead to changes in genes (mutations). However, these effects have not yet been proven in human studies.

Yeast beta-glucans support the immune system

In immunocompromised people, the body can only defend itself against pathogens to a limited extent. These people are more prone to infections. Yeast beta-glucans activate the immune system and thus support the body’s defenses.

Yeast beta-glucan has supported the immune system of children with recurrent respiratory infections and/or asthma: a daily intake of 100 milligrams of yeast beta-glucan could significantly increase the production of children’s antibodies. This is shown by one of the studies. Antibodies are an important part of the immune system. They are needed by the body to make foreign substances and pathogens harmless.

Yeast beta-glucan can also help patients who need surgery. The risk of infection after surgery is increased. This risk is reduced by beta-glucan: By giving beta-glucan through a vein, fewer infections occurred in another small, high-quality study. The need for antibiotics has also decreased, and patients could be discharged from the intensive care unit earlier.

Although there is much evidence that yeast beta-glucan has positive effects on the immune system, these effects are not yet widely recognized. Beta-glucan is definitely worth a try if you have immunodeficiency. Micronutrient experts recommend 250 to 750 milligrams of beta-glucan a day to boost the immune system.

Exercise is good for your health. However, excessive exercise can weaken the immune system. Animal studies show that yeast beta-glucan can reduce the risk of upper respiratory tract infections caused by physical stress. However, there are still no studies on colds in athletes.

The common cold is alleviated with beta-glucan from yeast

Cold symptoms like runny nose and sore throat affect us repeatedly. The effects of beta-glucan from yeast on boosting immunity can protect against colds and relieve symptoms. Numerous high-quality studies clearly show this.

By taking beta-glucan yeast, the frequency of cold episodes is reduced by a quarter. When colds did appear, however, they were less pronounced: yeast beta-glucan reduced the typical symptoms of hoarseness, runny nose, and sore throat. Patients also reported that taking yeast beta-glucan made their breathing easier. In one study, researchers were unable to show any effect on the incidence of colds, but yeast beta-glucan reduced fever in patients.

Increased stress increases the risk of colds. Beta-glucan also seems to be effective here: women with mental stress who took yeast beta-glucan had significantly fewer cold symptoms than women who received a fake drug. Besides, the general condition and performance have improved according to the preliminary study results.

Questions and answers about beta glucan

Can yeast beta glucan slow cancer growth?

Yeast beta-glucan can activate the acquired immune system, which fights degenerated cells. This slows down the growth of cancer cells. Yeast beta-glucans appear to have a stronger effect on certain cancer cells than on others – for example, lung, liver, ovarian, bladder, and breast cancer cells.

Findings on yeast beta-glucans anticancer effect mainly come from animal experiments and in the laboratory. But the first, in some cases, high-quality human studies are also available – with promising results: after a three-month dietary supplement with yeast beta-glucan, the physical and psychological symptoms of cancer patients have improved. Yeast beta-glucan has also increased the number of natural killer cells that fight degenerated cells. The use of yeast beta-glucans could also contribute to better nutritional status and alleviate chronic fatigue associated with cancer.

Further studies are currently underway on beta-glucan from yeast, given through a vein and antibodies. The first results are positive and indicate that the combination almost doubles the patient’s response rate to therapy.

The dosage of yeast beta-glucan for cancer used in the studies was between 100 and 750 milligrams per day. Many studies are currently underway, so there is still uncertainty about the optimal dose and method of administration. Therefore, you should discuss the exact dose with your doctor.

Does beta-glucan protect against periodontal disease?

Periodontitis is a chronic disease of the periodontium. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss and serious secondary diseases such as arteriosclerosis. Yeast beta-glucan may positively affect periodontitis due to its immune-stimulating effect.

In a laboratory test with cells from periodontitis, the researchers investigated its effects: yeast beta-glucan inhibited the release of inflammatory messenger necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). This messenger substance is mainly responsible for destroying the tissue that holds the tooth. Besides, it promoted the release of a substance (interleukin-10), which protects tissue.

The efficacy of yeast beta-glucan in periodontal disease has yet to be investigated in human studies. However, due to the positive effects on the immune system, experts in micronutrients recommend taking 100 to 250 milligrams a day.

Does yeast beta-glucan improve chemotherapy-induced anemia?

Cancer patients often have to undergo chemotherapy. Drugs (cytostatics) inhibit the division and growth of cancer cells. However, they also attack healthy cells – especially those that frequently divide, such as blood cells. Almost all cancer patients suffer from anemia during the disease. Anemia, among other things, contributes to the chronic fatigue syndrome that is common in cancer patients.

Because yeast beta-glucans accelerate blood production, researchers suspect that chemotherapy can reduce anemia. Yeast beta-glucan has already been tested in chemotherapy patients’ first study: blood values have slightly improved. In addition, intake was well tolerated and could increase study participants’ overall well-being. 40 percent of study participants also complained of less fatigue. Further high-quality studies will show whether the effects can be confirmed.

When and how to take yeast beta-glucan?

In general, beta-glucan from yeast as a portion of food can positively affect the immune system. However, experts with micronutrients recommend preparations for the prevention or supportive treatment of the disease because yeast’s beta-glucan content is always known and can be precisely dosed.

Yeast beta-glucans should be taken with plenty of fluids during meals. The daily dose can be divided into several meals. The preparations are generally available in the form of capsules.

The optimal dose also depends on the preparation. Before taking beta-glucan, read the instructions for use on the preparation and adhere to it.

Can yeast beta glucan be overdosed?

To date, there have been no studies on the long-term intake of beta-glucan from yeast. However, the European Food Safety Authority ( EFSA ) classifies the use of 375 milligrams of beta-glucan per day as safe. In the short term, higher doses can be taken.

Yeast products with Saccharomyces cerevisiae are part of the diet and have been used safely for a long time. They are well tolerated and rarely cause allergic reactions. The risk of such a reaction when taking beta-glucan from yeast is considered to be similarly low.

Complications were observed only when beta-glucan from yeast was administered directly into a vein. These include increased granuloma formation (benign growths caused by inflammatory stimuli) and enlarged liver and spleen.

Drug interactions

Soluble fiber, in particular, can reduce the absorption of drugs in the intestines by creating a gel in the digestive tract. This can slow down the absorption so that smaller amounts of the active substance get into the blood. Therefore, a two-hour interval between medication and beta glucan is recommended.

No drug interactions for yeast beta-glucans have been observed. They are generally insoluble and therefore do not affect the absorption of the drug.

Instructions for use for granulomas

There is evidence from animal studies that yeast beta-glucan accelerated the formation of granulomas in the liver and lungs. Granulomas are benign tumors that occur when the phagocytes of the immune system cannot remove the focus of inflammation and close it. For example, as part of an allergic reaction. Granulomas can also occur after infection or in inflammatory diseases such as Crohn’s disease, sarcoidosis or rheumatism (rheumatic nodules).

However, such an effect has not yet been proven in humans after taking beta-glucan preparations. To be sure, you should discuss with your doctor the use of preparations that contain beta-glucan from yeast in the presence of granulomas.

Anemia: monitor blood levels and check iron status

Beta-glucan from yeast accelerates the formation of blood cells. However, animal studies also indicate that repeated administration of beta-glucan by syringe (injection) may lead to a reduced response of blood precursor cells. This could lead to anemia (microcytic anemia with too few red blood cells). However, this side effect has not been observed in humans. The animals were also given soluble beta-glucan, which disrupts iron metabolism. Yeast beta glucan is usually an insoluble fiber.

If you already have anemia or iron deficiency, you should discuss the use of yeast beta-glucan with your doctor. To be sure, the doctor can check the appropriate blood values.

Summary

Yeast beta-glucans have many beneficial health effects because they activate the immune system. Therefore, they can help with weakened immunity. For example, cold symptoms can be alleviated by taking beta-glucan from yeast. Due to its immunostimulating effect, yeast beta glucan can also stop the growth of cancer. In addition, they can have a positive effect on diseases of the dental system. Yeast beta-glucan can also reduce the side effects of chemotherapy  and protect the body from anemia.

Beta-glucan from the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae is often used in microelement medicine. It is also known as baker’s yeast or brewer’s yeast. In general, yeast beta-glucans are very well tolerated. So far, complications have been observed in humans only if given directly through a vein. In animal studies, however, they have been able to encourage the formation of granulomas. People who suffer from granulomas and anemia should talk to their doctor about the safety of use.

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