Beta Glucan, Gluten Free Diets, and Getting Enough Whole Grain Fiber

beta glucan

Popular media can be confusing to the average consumer. On one hand, sites like SuperFoodsRx talk about the importance of getting enough whole grain fiber in your diet. On the other side, tons of people seem to be going gluten-free, claiming their health has improved tremendously since they removed it from their diet.

Gluten Free Diets – Some Fast Facts

For people with celiac disease, a gluten-free diet is essential. For others, they may have unknowingly fallen into a diet fad, where they mistake cutting out processed foods — like low-nutrient white bread, crackers, and pasta — for going “gluten-free.” The truth is that it’s good to cut out those processed items, but going totally gluten-free is not necessarily wise. As Peter H.R. Green, MD, director of the Celiac Disease Center at Columbia University, told WebMD, “unless people are very careful, a gluten-free diet can lack vitamins, minerals, and fiber.”

Beta Glucan – Helping Your Immunity

Cutting out products containing whole grains and whole grain fiber can also cut beta glucan from your diet. This is also a mistake. As Life Extension Magazine reports:

After a century and a half of research, studies have shown that beta glucans act as immunomodulator agents, meaning they trigger a cascade of events that help regulate the immune system, making it more efficient. Specifically, beta glucans stimulate the activity of macrophages, which are versatile immune cells that ingest and demolish invading pathogens and stimulate other immune cells to attack. Macrophages also release cytokines, chemicals that when secreted enable the immune cells to communicate with one another. In addition, beta glucans stimulate lethal white blood cells (lymphocytes) that bind to tumors or viruses, and release chemicals to destroy it.

However, the body doesn’t produce beta glucans naturally, so you need to get them from good. Some great options are baker’s yeast, shiitake mushrooms, and cereal grains like barley, oats, rye, and wheat.

Whole Grain Fiber – The Dish

There are two major types of fiber.

Insoluble Fiber – Found in whole grains, fruit and vegetable skin, and seeds and nuts. It is a stool bulking agent that absorbs water. This fiber promotes bowel movements and prevents constipation when consumed with sufficient amounts of water.

Soluble Fiber – Soluble fiber slows absorption of sugars, carbohydrates, and fats. It binds cholesterol in the intestines and can lower cholesterol in some people.

Both types of fiber are needed for good health. Get more fiber facts here, or info on why fiber isn’t just for old people here.

In terms of whole grain fiber, here are some products that we recommend for a good balanced diet.

  • Uncle Sam Cereal-toasted whole grain wheat flakes with crispy whole flaxseed (1 cup) 10 grams
  • 1/2 cup oats 9 grams
  • Post Shredded Wheat ‘N Bran (1/4 cups) 8 grams
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed 7 grams
  • 1 slice Bran for Life bread 5 grams
  • 1/2 cup oat bran (raw-not toasted) 4 grams
  • 2 tablespoons wheat germ (crude-not toasted) 2 grams
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice 2 grams
  • 1/2 cup cooked yellow corn 2 grams
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