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Enhancement of Post-Meal Satiety by adding Beta-Glucan

Glucans are polysaccharides that only contain glucose as structural components. Beta-1, 3 glucans are chains of polysaccharides (complex glucose molecules), with the six-sided glucose rings connected at the 1 and 3 positions. Smaller side chains branch off the 1,3 polysaccharide "backbone." The most active form of beta-1, 3 glucans are apparently those that contain 1,6 side-chains branching off from the longer beta-1, 3 glucan backbone. The formula for this type of compound is beta-1, 3/1/6 glucan.

Some researchers have suggested that it is the frequency, location, and length of the side-chains rather than the backbone of beta glucans that determine their immune system activity. Another variable is the fact that some of these compounds exist as single strand chains, while the backbones of other beta-1, 3 glucans exist as double or triple stranded helix chains. In some cases, proteins linked to the beta-1, 3 glucan backbone may also be involved in providing therapeutic activity. Although these compounds have exciting potential for enhancement of the immune system, it must be emphasized that this research is in its infancy, and there are differing opinions on which molecular weight, shape, structure, and source of beta-1, 3 glucans provide the greatest therapeutic benefit.

A recent study sought to determine the effect of soluble fiber (in the form of beta-glucan) on perceived satiety at different dietary fiber concentrations, energy levels and viscosity levels. The study included 29 healthy adults between the ages of 19 and 39 years with an average BMI of 23.2. The participants were given six beverages (one beverage per day) containing different amounts of fiber, energy and with varying levels of viscosity. During the 180 minute follow-up period after consuming the beverage, the participants were asked to describe their level of satiety, fullness, hunger, desire to eat something and thirst. The results revealed that increasing the energy content did not affect perceived levels of satiety in the participants. The amount of fiber in the beverages also did not appear to have any effect on the participants’ satiety levels. However, it was determined that adding beta-glucan to the beverages and increasing the viscosity of the beverages enhanced perceived levels of satiety in the study subjects.1

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This article was published on Monday September 06, 2010.
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