Understanding Beta Glucans

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1:35
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3,445
Published Date:
07/16/2013
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Interviewer: Can you speak to the history at all of beta glucans and how we found out that they can be beneficial to our health?

Dr. Donald Cox: Sure. Beta glucans were found to be in the cell walls of many plant materials and, as we spoke earlier, we know that the oat and barley beta glucans are soluble components of plant cell walls and have some real health benefits that we've talked about. Also the beta glucans from mushrooms were discovered probably well over a century ago and we know a lot about these soluble carbohydrates and how they can impact human health, as well. The yeast beta glucan was really structurally discerned as being a part of the cell wall about 50 years ago. And from that time forward, people identified, researchers identified some of the unique aspects of the yeast beta glucan. For example, the yeast beta glucan has a particular chemical structure who's form is recognized by immune cells and this is different from other types of beta glucans that are not necessarily recognized well by your immune system. Also, when your immune cells recognize the yeast beta glucan they know exactly what to do, how to react.

So as our knowledge of beta glucans has increased over the last hundred years or so, and most particularly, I would say, over the last 20 to 30 years, we've determined, one, structural different that occur within beta glucans and, secondly, how those structural differences impact biological activity and which particular beta glucan can go towards what form of health benefit.

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Dr. Donald J. Cox discusses the history and discovery of beta glucans. He also discusses the different types and how different types play different roles in benefiting health.

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