You may have heard that fiber is good for you, but did you know that not all fiber is the same? There are two main categories of dietary fiber: soluble and insoluble. Within each category, there are different types.
Beta Glucan is one form of soluble dietary fiber that’s strongly linked to improving cholesterol levels and boosting heart health. Like many fibers, it’s available in supplement form. You can also find it in whole grains, oats, bran, wheat, and barley. Baker’s yeast and some types of fungi, such as maitake and reishi mushrooms, contain beta glucan as well.
There are several beta-glucans supplement products that claim beta-glucans taken by mouth can only be absorbed if the product is prepared by a special patented process that “micronizes” beta-glucans particles. However, there is no reliable evidence to support such a claim.
We get dietary fiber from the plant-based foods we eat. Soluble fibers, like beta glucan, dissolve partially in water. Insoluble fiber doesn’t dissolve at all. Most foods have both kinds of fiber, but the amounts can vary. There are also different kinds of soluble and insoluble fiber.
Fiber supports good health by helping your body reduce cholesterol and control blood sugar levels. It also helps with constipation and bowel issues, maintains healthy gut bacteria, and aids in weight control.
Because it’s a soluble fiber, beta glucan slows down food transit in the intestines. This means that it takes longer for the body to digest food. Slower digestion means the body doesn’t absorb sugar as quickly, reducing the likelihood of blood sugar spikes and helping keep blood sugar levels stable. Beta glucan is indigestible, so it goes through the whole digestive tract. As it travels through, it can take cholesterol out with it, lowering levels.