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This article is intended to provide you with new knowledge, there is no medical advice, the opinion of your doctor is always to be preferred for everything that is diagnosis, treatment, prevention of disease, a new diet, a sports activity fitness as well as any prescription of drugs.
Benefits of beta-glucans – by Dr. Mariangel Leota
Cancer is a problem of our immune system. If we have a weakened immune system due to poor diet, lifestyles, genetic factors or environmental pollution, the safest thing is that cancer will invade our body.
For this we must always take care of our immune system, with good nutrition, take care of our lifestyle, sleep the minimum 8 hours necessary and avoid exposure to environmental pollution.
But our immune system can not only against cancer, the cells that are responsible for the first line of defense against harmful agents or external to our body such as bacteria, fungi and parasites, do not recognize quickly and easily the cancer cells.
Beta glucans are components of the cell membrane of certain species of yeast, fungi and algae. In short, these compounds “help” the immune system to recognize cancer cells more easily.
The use of beta-glucans was studied hundreds of years ago and it became very popular in the whole East, it was studied through the properties of the consumption of medicinal mushrooms, focusing especially on the Shiitake mushroom, which has been consumed for 6000 years and is known as the fungus of the elixir of life and is used for different diseases among them, cancer.
These beta-glucans were highly praised by Li Shih-chen, the most famous doctor during the Ming Dynasty and left written records on its medicinal use in numerous books and treatises on medicine. Also the Maitake mushroom, known for its great taste, became known for its curative effects against cancer in the feudal age, reaching its weight in gold and silver.
It was not until 1975 when Dr. Peter W. Mansell proposed that for the first time in an article published in the prestigious Journal of the National Cancer Institute the possibility that beta-glucans were used as a treatment against cancer. This Doctor experimented in injecting fractions of beta-1,3-glucans (fraction that possesses more biological activity) in malignant nodules of 9 patients with skin cancer, after a few days the size of the lesions was remarkably reduced while obtaining conclusive results of healing in small lesions.
Betaglucans have been so studied and their effectiveness is so evident as activators of the immune system is so evident that in fact they have been patented for different uses combining them with other substances (vitamins A and C, keratin, etc.) and that is why they are already commercialized many nutritional supplements that contain them as “immune boosters”.
The results of research and clinical studies clearly indicate that beta glucans stimulate, potentiate and modulate cellular immunity activity and also:
- Inhibits tumor growth.
- Prevents tumor metastasis.
- Prevents normal cells from forming cancer cells
- Stimulates the production of white cells (CD4 T lymphocytes, CD8).
- It has a protective effect on the liver, kidneys, digestive tract, stomach and intestines.
- Altera the HIV virus preventing the destruction of T lymphocytes and preventing immunosuppression
- Inhibits the replication of the HIV virus
- Avoid opportunistic infections in patients with chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment
- Acts synergistically with chemotherapy / radiotherapy.
- Reduces the side effects of cancer treatment
Where can we get these beta glucans?
It is not a compound that produces our body naturally, we must consume them in the meals, among the betaglucanes that by their nature are insoluble fiber, within which are those that have the greatest biological effect, are those present in beer yeast (Saccharomyces cerevisiae) and a special group of cetas, among which we can say:
Maitake: of the most precious mushrooms since imperial times, it is prized for its great flavor. From these times its protective and healing properties against infectious diseases were known.
Reishi: fungus with a bitter taste but with a powerful effect on cancer cells. It also contributes species with a lot of biological activity such as germanium.
Shiitake: a mushroom of great value, with a component called lentinan, which is a beta glucan with a powerful effect against cancer cells.
Matsutake: mushroom very popularized for its color and its healing properties, contains one of the most active biological forms of beta glucans.
We can also get beta glucan species in cereals such as oats and barley. The beta glucans found in cereals have particular properties, because when consumed, they form solutions of viscous consistency inside our digestive tract. These viscous solutions make Gastrointestinal emptying is delayed, slowing digestion processes and preventing the absorption of cholesterol and sugar amounts.
What are its powerful functions?
Its function is different from the biological compounds that “activate” the immune system, betaglucans do not activate it directly, but this compound is located in the cell wall of cancer cells or harmful cells, making our immune system recognize it more easily.
It is dangerous to excessively activate our immune system, because it can result in auto immune diseases such as lupus. Beta glucans are very specific in being the highlight of only cancer or harmful cells, preventing our body from attacking the healthy cells of our own body.
Normally, the cellular expression of cancer cells is weak, which makes it difficult to recognize by our body, going unnoticed by the main defense cells, beta-glucan compounds are located in the receptors of malignant cells, marking them as an objective for them to be destroyed.
It is capable of targeting cancer cells so that all of our body’s defense cells, such as lymphocytes, natural killer cells, macrophages and neutrophils can destroy and eliminate them.
What studies have been done on beta glucans?
A fraction of beta-glucans, called lentinan, has been studied by scientists at the Biotechnology Research Center of Teikyo University (Japan) for its ability to reduce the activity of tumor formation and the relief of the symptoms of the effects side effects of cancer treatment.
It was emphasized that lentinan betaglucans, which are found in medicinal shiitake mushrooms, have special biological activity against cancer cells, preventing their development and expansion. These studies conclude that this potent betaglucan is capable of reducing the percentage of metastases in cancer.
The results of this study were able to demonstrate that this beta-glucan was able to reduce tumor development and cancer spread in patients with advanced stomach cancer, advanced breast cancer and colorectal cancer.
This specific beta-glucan is capable of activating neutrophils to destroy with their toxic substances or to ingest these malignant cells.
Those who have advanced these studies, have spoken of their great qualities to avoid other diseases such as:
- Crohn’s disease
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- High cholesterol
Benefits for our body
They are able to reduce cholesterol
Beta glucans are also able to stimulate the function of the immune system to reduce the amount of LDL cholesterol, called “bad cholesterol” and is responsible for forming plaques of atheromas in our arteries causing high blood pressure and cardiovascular disease.
By ingesting foods containing beta glucans, a thick viscous layer is created in the gastrointestinal tract created by beta glucan, which, when linked with excess cholesterol, prevents the stomach and intestines from absorbing this excess, reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases such as arterial hypertension.
Studies conducted by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services concluded that consuming 3 grams of oatmeal or barley daily has a positive effect on the reduction of “bad” LDL cholesterol, as well as total cholesterol. This scientifically proven study is good news for those consumers who seek to lower cholesterol levels and take care of their heart.
They are ideal for diabetic patients
Dietary fiber is important in our nutrition, beta glucans are a type of soluble fiber that can be found in foods such as oats, which generate low glycemic response, which makes eating these foods, our blood glucose or blood sugar do not rise to harmful levels.
They have a deep repairing effect on the skin
Beta-glucans have properties to prevent infections in people who have suffered traumatic injuries, regenerate and repair the tissue again, accelerating the recovery of injured tissues. Another function of beta glucan is its high levels of anti-oxidants with a free radical scavenging effect. Therefore beta glucans are excellent for repairing old wounds and wounds from surgeries.
They are effective against infections
Beta glucans not only have an effect on cancer cells, they are also effective against bacterial and viral infections. These powerful biological components have the ability to improve the activity of antibiotics in patients with bacterial infections. Patients who are being treated for infections with Escherichia Coli, which is the cause of “traveler’s diarrhea” or respiratory infections caused by bacteria have shown improvement due to the administration of doses of beta glucans with their antibiotics.