Oat beta glucan is a soluble dietary fiber which is usually found in the endosperm cell walls of oats. Beta glucans are also similary found in barley, rye, wheat, bran and whole grains. They are also available in form of supplements like is the case with many other types of fibers. The soluble dietary fibers from oats have been scientifically proven to have properties that help in the reduction of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and therefore prevent heart diseases. Food and Drug Adminiatration (FDA) in the US approved oat β-glucan for the reduction of bad cholesterol levels and risk of cardiovascular diseases back in 1997. In the UK, the Joint Health Claims Initiative (JHCI) approved oat glucan for the same reasons in 2004.
Benefits of Oat Glucan
Taking oat glucan rich foods has been found to provide several benefits vital for the prevention, treatment or management of certain types of diseases. Scientific studies have shown that beta glucan lowers the levels of the LDL cholesterol without significantly affecting the levels of the good HDL cholesterol. The soluble fibers usually form a viscous layer that reduces cholesterol absorption as well as the reabsorption of bile acids. The body makes bile acids from cholesterol and therefore continues to do so using the cholesterol already in circulation. That helps lead to lower cholesterol levels by up to 5-10%. That is what helps to boost heart health and prevent cardiovascular related diseases. Blood sugar control also improves and can help prevent diabetes type 2 or improve the diseae for people already suffering from it. Boosting the immune system is yet another benefit of taking soluble dietary fibers from oats. That helps the body to produce certain chimicals to prevent infections or growth of cancerous tumors. Beta glucans can therefore help cancer and HIV/AIDS patients. Like many other types of fibers, they also help to improve digestion and prevent problems like constipation.
Oat Glucan Dosage
Scientific research has confirmed the right dosage of beta glucans when given either by mouth or intravenously. When oat beta glucan is taken by mouth as a supplement to reduce cholesterol, the recommended dosage is 3 g per day. If you have to take oats as food, you would approximately need about 90 g of oats. It is also allowed to take daily up to 10 g of beta glucan supplements from oats, barley and other foods to reduce very high cholesterol. Health practitioners give beta glucans intravenously for HIV/AIDS, prolong life for cancer patients, and to prevent infections in some patients when undergoing surgery.
Oat Glucan Side effects
When taken through the mouth, beta glucans are not known to cause any side effects. However, when they are used for injections they may have side effects such as pain at injection sites chills, headache, nausea, fever, vomiting, joint pain, low or high blood pressure, dizziness, rushes, flushing, reduced white blood cells and an increase of urine. Thickening of skin in the palms of hands and the soles of the feet has been noted in people with HIV/AIDS after using beta glucans, but the side effect disappears after several weeks of stopping usage.
When taking oat glucan supplements, do not take more than 15 g per day or continue usage for more than 8 weeks. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also avoid using beta glucans since no research has been concluded to determine safety for such cases.