WHAT ARE BETA-GLUCANS?
Beta-Glucans (complex carbohydrates) are polysaccharides, polymers of the carbohydrate family that are constituted of several D-glucose molecules.
They are found in significant quantities in oats and barley, cereals that have been consumed by humans for thousands of years.
Even though mankind has always used them in its nutrition, it was not until the end of the 19th century, with the discovery of the chemical structure of sugars, and then nutrition studies conducted in the early 2000s, that the importance of Beta-Glucans for health was demonstrated.
Since the 2010s, the FDA and EFSA have validated the use of an increasing number of claims confirming the effectiveness of Beta-Glucans on health, particularly on the immune system.
What do beta-glucans do?
Present on the walls of oat, barley, rye and wheat seeds as well as in certain mushrooms, Beta-Glucans have been subject of numerous scientific studies on nutrition and health over the last 20 years.
With real benefits in the fight against cholesterol and cardiovascular problems, it is the many benefits to the immune system that have attracted the most attention from scientists.
Beta-Glucans are indeed excellent modulators of the immune response (link to section). They are notably involved in the activation of several cells of the immune system such as lymphocytes (white blood cells), macrophages and natural killers (B and T lymphocytes).
Their use in the form of food supplements to strengthen immunity is now constantly increasing.