30% off Shatavari and Siberian Ginseng with code: HERBAL30
Live Chat 8am - 8pm
FREE Next Day Delivery on orders over £25
FREE lifetime support

Beta-glucans

Beta-glucans are prebiotic fibres found in plants such as oats, barley, and mushrooms. Beta-glucans are an essential source of dietary fibre with many benefits for human health.

Here are 5 key roles of beta-glucans:

  1. Gut Health: Beta-glucans act as a food source for beneficial bacteria in the gut, promoting their growth and supporting a healthy gut microbiome.1Chung WSF, Walker AW, Vermeiren J, Sheridan PO, Bosscher D, Garcia-Campayo V, Parkhill J, Flint HJ, Duncan SH. Impact of carbohydrate substrate complexity on the diversity of the human colonic microbiota. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2019 Jan 1;95(1):fiy201. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiy201.
  2. Immune Support: Beta-glucans support healthy immune responses and overall immune function.
  3. Digestive Health: Beta-glucans help maintain regular bowel movements.2Mysonhimer AR, Holscher HD. Gastrointestinal Effects and Tolerance of Nondigestible Carbohydrate Consumption. Adv Nutr. 2022 Dec 22;13(6):2237-2276. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmac094.3Jayachandran M, Chen J, Chung SSM, Xu B. A critical review on the impacts of β-glucans on gut microbiota and human health. J Nutr Biochem. 2018 Nov;61:101-110. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2018.06.010.
  4. Antioxidant Effects: Beta-glucans have antioxidant effects, helping to neutralise harmful free radicals.4Ramendra R, Mancini M, Ayala JM, Tung LT, Isnard S, Lin J, Routy JP, Nijnik A, Langlais D. Glutathione Metabolism Is a Regulator of the Acute Inflammatory Response of Monocytes to (1→3)-β-D-Glucan. Front Immunol. 2021 Nov 11;12:694152. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.694152.
  5. Potential Anti-inflammatory Benefits: Beta-glucans have shown promise in reducing inflammation, which can benefit people living with inflammatory conditions.5Zabriskie HA, Blumkaitis JC, Moon JM, Currier BS, Stefan R, Ratliff K, Harty PS, Stecker RA, Rudnicka K, Jäger R, Roberts MD, Young K, Jagim AR, Kerksick CM. Yeast Beta-Glucan Supplementation Downregulates Markers of Systemic Inflammation after Heated Treadmill Exercise. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 19;12(4):1144. doi: 10.3390/nu12041144.6Ali MF, Driscoll CB, Walters PR, Limper AH, Carmona EM. β-Glucan-Activated Human B Lymphocytes Participate in Innate Immune Responses by Releasing Proinflammatory Cytokines and Stimulating Neutrophil Chemotaxis. J Immunol. 2015 Dec 1;195(11):5318-26. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1500559.7Singh RP, Bhardwaj A. β-glucans: a potential source for maintaining gut microbiota and the immune system. Front Nutr. 2023 May 5;10:1143682. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1143682.

Which bacteria are involved in the metabolism/fermentation of beta-glucans?

Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus, and Bacteroides are among the beneficial bacteria involved in the metabolism and fermentation of beta-glucans in the gut, breaking them down into beneficial byproducts such as short-chain fatty acids.8Russo P, López P, Capozzi V, De Palencia PF, Dueñas MT, Spano G, Fiocco D. Beta-glucans improve growth, viability and colonization of probiotic microorganisms. Int J Mol Sci. 2012;13(5):6026-6039. doi: 10.3390/ijms13056026.9Jaskari J, Kontula P, Siitonen A, Jousimies-Somer H, Mattila-Sandholm T, Poutanen K. Oat beta-glucan and xylan hydrolysates as selective substrates for Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 1998 Feb;49(2):175-81. doi: 10.1007/s002530051155.10Fernandez-Julia PJ, Munoz-Munoz J, van Sinderen D. A comprehensive review on the impact of β-glucan metabolism by Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium species as members of the gut microbiota. Int J Biol Macromol. 2021 Jun 30;181:877-889. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2021.04.069. Bacteroides are able to break down beta-glucans into simpler molecules that Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus species can feed on. This is what microbiome scientists call “cross-feeding“. 11Fernandez-Julia P, Black GW, Cheung W, Van Sinderen D, Munoz-Munoz J. Fungal β-glucan-facilitated cross-feeding activities between Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium species. Commun Biol. 2023 May 30;6(1):576. doi: 10.1038/s42003-023-04970-4.12Singh RP, Rajarammohan S, Thakur R, Hassan M. Linear and branched β-Glucans degrading enzymes from versatile Bacteroides uniformis JCM 13288T and their roles in cooperation with gut bacteria. Gut Microbes. 2020 Nov 9;12(1):1-18. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2020.1826761.

How can you get more beta-glucans in your diet?

Our Complete Prebiotic provides a good source of beta-glucans. Other rich sources of beta-glucans include oats, barley, mushrooms, some algae, and nutritional yeast or “brewer’s yeast”. Eating these foods regularly can increase your intake of beta-glucans, helping you benefit from their positive role in gut health.13Yu L, Gao Y, Ye Z, Duan H, Zhao J, Zhang H, Narbad A, Tian F, Zhai Q, Chen W. Interaction of beta-glucans with gut microbiota: Dietary origins, structures, degradation, metabolism, and beneficial function. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2023 Jun 5:1-26. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2023.2217727.14Hughes J, Grafenauer S. Oat and Barley in the Food Supply and Use of Beta Glucan Health Claims. Nutrients. 2021 Jul 26;13(8):2556. doi: 10.3390/nu13082556.15Morales D. Food By-Products and Agro-Industrial Wastes as a Source of β-Glucans for the Formulation of Novel Nutraceuticals. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2023 Mar 20;16(3):460. doi: 10.3390/ph16030460.

Where to find your beta-glucans score in the Chuckling Goat Gut Microbiome Test

You will find your beta-glucan score in the “Prebiotics” report in your Chuckling Goat Gut Microbiome Test results. Guidance on how to work with your beta-glucan score will be featured in your personal action plan. Please note that this information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified health provider if you have any questions about the impact of beta-glucans on your health.

Synonyms: β- Glucans, oat β- Glucans, oat beta-glucans, fungal β- Glucans, fungal beta-glucans, algae β- Glucans, algae beta-glucans

Important disclaimer

The Chuckling Goat Gut Microbiome Handbook is an educational resource built to translate complex science into plain English. The information provided on this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your GP or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Always check with your GP for interactions with medications/health conditions before changing your diet or starting to take food supplements.

References

  • 1
    Chung WSF, Walker AW, Vermeiren J, Sheridan PO, Bosscher D, Garcia-Campayo V, Parkhill J, Flint HJ, Duncan SH. Impact of carbohydrate substrate complexity on the diversity of the human colonic microbiota. FEMS Microbiol Ecol. 2019 Jan 1;95(1):fiy201. doi: 10.1093/femsec/fiy201.
  • 2
    Mysonhimer AR, Holscher HD. Gastrointestinal Effects and Tolerance of Nondigestible Carbohydrate Consumption. Adv Nutr. 2022 Dec 22;13(6):2237-2276. doi: 10.1093/advances/nmac094.
  • 3
    Jayachandran M, Chen J, Chung SSM, Xu B. A critical review on the impacts of β-glucans on gut microbiota and human health. J Nutr Biochem. 2018 Nov;61:101-110. doi: 10.1016/j.jnutbio.2018.06.010.
  • 4
    Ramendra R, Mancini M, Ayala JM, Tung LT, Isnard S, Lin J, Routy JP, Nijnik A, Langlais D. Glutathione Metabolism Is a Regulator of the Acute Inflammatory Response of Monocytes to (1→3)-β-D-Glucan. Front Immunol. 2021 Nov 11;12:694152. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.694152.
  • 5
    Zabriskie HA, Blumkaitis JC, Moon JM, Currier BS, Stefan R, Ratliff K, Harty PS, Stecker RA, Rudnicka K, Jäger R, Roberts MD, Young K, Jagim AR, Kerksick CM. Yeast Beta-Glucan Supplementation Downregulates Markers of Systemic Inflammation after Heated Treadmill Exercise. Nutrients. 2020 Apr 19;12(4):1144. doi: 10.3390/nu12041144.
  • 6
    Ali MF, Driscoll CB, Walters PR, Limper AH, Carmona EM. β-Glucan-Activated Human B Lymphocytes Participate in Innate Immune Responses by Releasing Proinflammatory Cytokines and Stimulating Neutrophil Chemotaxis. J Immunol. 2015 Dec 1;195(11):5318-26. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1500559.
  • 7
    Singh RP, Bhardwaj A. β-glucans: a potential source for maintaining gut microbiota and the immune system. Front Nutr. 2023 May 5;10:1143682. doi: 10.3389/fnut.2023.1143682.
  • 8
    Russo P, López P, Capozzi V, De Palencia PF, Dueñas MT, Spano G, Fiocco D. Beta-glucans improve growth, viability and colonization of probiotic microorganisms. Int J Mol Sci. 2012;13(5):6026-6039. doi: 10.3390/ijms13056026.
  • 9
    Jaskari J, Kontula P, Siitonen A, Jousimies-Somer H, Mattila-Sandholm T, Poutanen K. Oat beta-glucan and xylan hydrolysates as selective substrates for Bifidobacterium and Lactobacillus strains. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 1998 Feb;49(2):175-81. doi: 10.1007/s002530051155.
  • 10
    Fernandez-Julia PJ, Munoz-Munoz J, van Sinderen D. A comprehensive review on the impact of β-glucan metabolism by Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium species as members of the gut microbiota. Int J Biol Macromol. 2021 Jun 30;181:877-889. doi: 10.1016/j.ijbiomac.2021.04.069.
  • 11
    Fernandez-Julia P, Black GW, Cheung W, Van Sinderen D, Munoz-Munoz J. Fungal β-glucan-facilitated cross-feeding activities between Bacteroides and Bifidobacterium species. Commun Biol. 2023 May 30;6(1):576. doi: 10.1038/s42003-023-04970-4.
  • 12
    Singh RP, Rajarammohan S, Thakur R, Hassan M. Linear and branched β-Glucans degrading enzymes from versatile Bacteroides uniformis JCM 13288T and their roles in cooperation with gut bacteria. Gut Microbes. 2020 Nov 9;12(1):1-18. doi: 10.1080/19490976.2020.1826761.
  • 13
    Yu L, Gao Y, Ye Z, Duan H, Zhao J, Zhang H, Narbad A, Tian F, Zhai Q, Chen W. Interaction of beta-glucans with gut microbiota: Dietary origins, structures, degradation, metabolism, and beneficial function. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2023 Jun 5:1-26. doi: 10.1080/10408398.2023.2217727.
  • 14
    Hughes J, Grafenauer S. Oat and Barley in the Food Supply and Use of Beta Glucan Health Claims. Nutrients. 2021 Jul 26;13(8):2556. doi: 10.3390/nu13082556.
  • 15
    Morales D. Food By-Products and Agro-Industrial Wastes as a Source of β-Glucans for the Formulation of Novel Nutraceuticals. Pharmaceuticals (Basel). 2023 Mar 20;16(3):460. doi: 10.3390/ph16030460.

Questions? Talk to a Nutritional Therapist on live chat!

More from The Gut Health Express