Beta Glucans

Long-chain sugar molecules found in the cell walls of bacteria, fungi, yeasts, algae, lichens, and grains, such as oats and barley. Powerful humectants and soothers, they can strengthen the skin’s moisture barrier and stave off bad germs. Beta Glucan is used in skincare to help bind moisture to the skin, and provide antioxidant protection. It can promote natural collagen as well as skin turnover to help minimize visible wrinkles. Beta-glucans, β-glucans comprise a group of β-D-glucose polysaccharides (glucans) naturally occurring in the cell walls of cereals, bacteria, and fungi, with significantly differing physicochemical properties dependent on source. Typically, β-glucans form a linear backbone with 1–3 β-glycosidic bonds but vary with respect to molecular mass, solubility, viscosity, branching structure, and gelation properties, causing diverse physiological effects in animals.

At dietary intake levels of at least 3 g per day, oat fiber β-glucan decreases blood levels of LDL cholesterol and so may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases.[1] β-glucans are natural gums and are used as texturing agents in various nutraceutical and cosmetic products, and as soluble fiber supplements. Cereal and fungal products have been used for centuries for medicinal and cosmetic purposes; however, the specific role of β-glucan was not explored until the 20th century. β-glucans were first discovered in lichens, and shortly thereafter in barley. A particular interest in oat β-glucan arose after a cholesterol lowering effect from oat bran reported in 1981.

In 1997, the FDA approved of a claim that intake of at least 3.0 g of β-glucan from oats per day decreased absorption of dietary cholesterol and reduced the risk of coronary heart disease. The approved health claim was later amended to include these sources of β-glucan: rolled oats (oatmeal), oat bran, whole oat flour, oatrim (the soluble fraction of alpha-amylase hydrolyzed oat bran or whole oat flour), whole grain barley and barley beta-fiber. An example of an allowed label claim: "Soluble fiber from foods such as oatmeal, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. A serving of oatmeal supplies 0.75 grams of the 3.0 g of β-glucan soluble fiber necessary per day to have this effect." The claim language is in the Federal Register 21 CFR 101.81 Health Claims: "Soluble fiber from certain foods and risk of coronary heart disease (CHD)"

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