Beta Glucans – Balancing the Immune System

immune system

Your animal’s immune system is a complicated network that protects his body against stressors and disease. When it becomes imbalanced, the risk of illness is increased.

A weak or impaired immune system can predispose your animal’s body to infections, impaired healing and even cancer. An over-exuberant system can result in allergies, immune-mediated diseases and, again, cancer.

The majority of the immune system resides in the gastrointestinal tract. This means food, medications, etc. can affect systemic immunity. Maintaining an optimal immune system is critical to overall health.

Beta glucans are naturally-obtained polysaccharides that modulate the immune system. They are found in various mushrooms as well as rice bran, vegetables such as yams, algae, seaweed, and the cell walls of yeast.

Beta glucans help regulate the immune system by triggering a cascade of events that promote immune cell activation, and stimulate macrophages and lymphocytes to destroy target cells. They can enhance the overall activity of natural killer T cells and B cells. Beta glucans have the ability to simultaneously stimulate the immune system to fight disease, while providing appropriate anti-inflammatory properties.

Beta glucans have numerous other medicinal properties and have been used for high cholesterol, diabetes, cancer and HIV in humans. In dogs, beta glucans improve vaccination titers in immuno-compromised animals, and have been used for managing atopy, demodecosis, osteoarthritis and neoplasia.

Dr. Carmen Colitz is a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist with a PhD in Comparative and Experimental Medicine.

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