Cold and Flu Prevention: Strengthening Your Immune System

Cold and Flu - Girl in BedFor cold and flu prevention, many are aware of increasing intake of vitamin C and vitamin D to strengthen the immune system.  Let me share another nutrient that supports your immune system: Beta Glucans.

I will tell you how beta glucans stimulate the immune system, thus supporting cold and flu prevention.  I will also tell you why they are good for your immune system and which foods are good sources of beta glucans.  There’s a lot of well-documented research concerning the properties of beta glucans that stimulate the immune system both in vitro and in vivo.1  Beta Glucans are naturally occurring substances that come from the cell walls of yeast, fungi, algae and oats.

How Beta Glucans Stimulate the Immune System

Immunostimulation directly by activating receptors on macrophages, neutrophils and natural killer cells; Immunostimulation indirectly by activation of cells located in the immune system cells (Peyer’s patches) of the small intestine.

Why Beta Glucans Are Good For Your Immune System

  1. They enhance resistance to various fungal, bacterial, viral and protazoal diseases.
  2. They increase efficacy of vaccines by increasing antibodies produced.
  3. They increase mucosal immunity by increasing secretory immunoglobulin A.
  4. They promote antitumor activity.
  5. They promote wound healing, especially with topical application.

Good Sources of Beta Glucans

So for cold and flu prevention this season, besides getting more vitamin D to support your immune system, eat more foods containing beta-glucans.  One of the simplest ways to do this is eat more oat containing foods, such as oatmeal.  Shitake and maitake mushrooms are also good sources of beta glucans.

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  1. Hong F, Hansen RD, Yan J, et al. Beta-glucan functions as an adjuvant for monoclonal antibody immunotherapy by recruiting tumorocidal granulocytes as killer cells. Cancer Res. 2003 Dec 15; 63(24):9023-31.