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Beta Glucan Effects On Weight Reduction, Cravings And Diabetes in GLOBESITY Bootcamp for the Obese

Beta Glucan Effects On Weight Reduction, Cravings And Diabetes in GLOBESITY Bootcamp for the Obese

Authors: Marcus Free MD, Rouzbeh Motiei-Langroudi MD, Waqar Ahmad PhD, Kelly Daly RDN, and Don Juravin (Don Karl Juravin).

Abstract (Research Summary)

  • Beta Glucan (3 g daily) reduces total cholesterol by 8.9% and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels by 12.1% over 8 weeks (Cicero et al., 2020).
  • Beta Glucan has higher low-density lipoprotein (LDL) lowering effect on women than in men (women: 16.3% (95% CI: 17.8 to 6.7) vs. men: 14.9% (95% CI: 14.1 to 5.9), in younger subjects (16.4% (95% CI: 17.5 to 8.3) vs. older 14.7% (95% CI: 17.1 to 5.2) (Cicero et al., 2020).
  • Beta Glucan causes 2.2 lbs (1 kg) weight loss per month (Khouri et al., 2011).
  • Beta Glucan reduces cravings by balancing responsible hormones, increasing the healthy to unhealthy gut flora ratio and increasing satiety (Khoury, 2011; Slavin, 2013; Cloetens, 2012; Juvonen, 2009; Beck, 2009; JADA, 2008; Slavin, 2007; Dikeman, 2006).
  • Beta Glucan decreases calorie intake in the subsequent meal by greater than 96 calories (Beck, 2009; Vitaglione, 2009). That is about a 19% to 24% reduction in the next meal.
  • Beta Glucan slows the absorption of glucose, improves insulin sensitivity for 2 hours, and promotes lipolysis by 5% to 10% (Slavin, 2013; Cloetens, 2012; Khoury, 2011; Juvonen, 2009; Beck, 2009; JADA, 2008; Slavin, 2007; Dikeman, 2006).
  • Beta Glucan improves postprandial glucose (28% to 62%) and insulin levels (33% to 51%) for 2 hours (Casiraghi, 2006; Jenkins, 2002; Tappy, 1996; Beck, 2009).
  • Beta Glucan increases healthy to unhealthy gut flora ratio by increasing lactobacilli and bifidobacteria and decreasing coliform species and clostridium perfringens (Slavin, 2013; Turunen, 2011; Rosburg, 2010; Snart, 2006).


Beta Glucan is a soluble dietary fiber found naturally in cereal grains, yeast, and in medicinal mushrooms (cordyceps, reishi, shitake, and maitake). Among its sources, barley has the highest Beta Glucan content. Beta Glucan is a polysaccharide that promotes good health by reducing cholesterol, and controls blood sugar levels. Beta Glucan lowers blood cholesterol by preventing the absorption of cholesterol from food in the stomach and intestines. If injected, Beta Glucan stimulates the immune system by growing chemicals which prevent infection. Beta Glucan also helps with constipation and bowel issues, preserves healthy intestinal bacteria, and helps regulate weight.

Beta Glucan Effects on Weight Reduction

Beta Glucan decreases calorie intake by ~100 calories per meal, promotes fat burning (5% to 10%), restricts absorption of dietary fats and improves insulin sensitivity resulting in better glucose control and weight loss.

  • Beta Glucan supplements (3 g daily) reduces total cholesterol by 8.9% (95% Confidence Interval (CI): 12.6 to 2.3) and non-high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C) levels by 12.1% (95% CI: 15.6 to 5.3) over 8 weeks (Cicero et al., 2020).
  • Beta Glucan has higher low-density lipoprotein (LDL) lowering effect on women than in men (women: 16.3% (95% CI: 17.8 to 6.7) vs. men: 14.9% (95% CI: 14.1 to 5.9), in younger subjects (16.4% (95% CI: 17.5 to 8.3) vs. older 14.7% (95% CI: 17.1 to 5.2) (Cicero et al., 2020).
  • >5 g Beta Glucan decreases calorie intake in the subsequent meal by greater than 96 calories (Beck, 2009). Assuming a meal of 400 calories, this is an energy reduction of 24%.
  • Beta Glucan slows the absorption of glucose, improves insulin sensitivity for 2 hours, promotes lipolysis (5% to 10%) by restricting the absorption of dietary fats and lean mass that promote weight loss (Slavin, 2013; Cloetens, 2012; Khoury, 2011; Juvonen, 2009; Beck, 2009; JADA, 2008; Slavin, 2007; Dikeman, 2006).
  • Beta Glucan causes 2.2 lbs (1 kg) weight loss per month (Khouri et al., 2011), or 26.5 lbs (12 kg) per year.
  • Beta Glucan decreases energy intake by 19% and ghrelin levels by 23%. It also decreases postprandial glucose and insulin levels (Vitaglione, 2009).

Beta Glucan Effects on the Healthy Gut Flora

Beta Glucan creates microbiota diversity by significantly increasing the ratio of healthy gut flora. This is proven to be linked to reduced sugar cravings and weight loss.

  • High viscosity Beta Glucan increases the ratio of healthy gut flora by increasing lactobacilli (Snart, 2006). Unhealthy gut flora feed on sugar, therefore, reducing their count in the gut reduces cravings for sugar and carbohydrate rich food, finally exerting desirable effects on weight loss (Slavin, 2013; Gibson, 1995).
  • Beta Glucan consumption significantly decreases coliform species after 30 days and clostridium perfringens after 90 days (unhealthy microbiota), accompanied by reduced bloating and abdominal pain (Turunen, 2011). Unhealthy microbiota feed on sugar, and therefore, reducing their count in the gut reduces cravings for sugar, finally exerting desirable effects on weight loss (Slavin, 2013; Gibson, 1995).
  • Beta Glucan has a protective effect on bifidobacteria (healthy gut flora) (Rosburg, 2010). This is beneficial in creating microbiota diversity as well as improving healthy to unhealthy microbiome ratio, both proven to be linked to weight loss and reduced sugar cravings (Slavin, 2013; Yatsunenko, 2012; Gibson, 1995).
  • Beta Glucan significantly increases healthy gut microbiota (Slavin, 2013; Cloeten, 2012; JADA, 2008).

Beta Glucan Effects on Cravings

Beta Glucan reduces cravings by increasing the viscosity of the digestive tract and by improving the amount of healthy gut flora. The increase in healthy gut flora decreases the consumption of sugary food, satiety setpoint and cravings favoring decreased food intake.

  • In a 50 g carbohydrate portion, each gram of Beta Glucan reduces the glycemic index of food by 4 units that can improves insulin sensitivity in glucose intolerant and obese patients, which causes cravings (Jenkins, 2002).
  • Beta Glucan improves glucose metabolism (2.2 g to 5.7 g per meal) that reduces glucose and insulin secretion up to 2 hours thus decreasing cravings associated with glucose intolerance and insulin resistance (Beck, 2009).
  • Beta Glucan improves the healthy gut flora which helps in the growth of healthy species such as lactobacilli and bifidobacteria (Snart, 2006) and inhibits the growth of unhealthy species like coliform and clostridium perfringens that consume carbohydrates obtained from sweet and sugary food items leading to cravings (Slavin, 2013; Gibson, 1995; Turunen, 2011).
  • Beta Glucan improves satiety by increasing gastric transit time and viscosity of food which inhibits the release of ghrelin which causes cravings (Tappy, 1996).
  • Beta Glucan reduces cravings by improving the balance of hormones, healthy to unhealthy gut flora and increasing satiety that altogether promote weight loss (Khoury, 2011; Slavin, 2013; Cloetens, 2012; Juvonen, 2009; Beck, 2009; JADA, 2008; Slavin, 2007; Dikeman, 2006).

Beta Glucan Effects on Diabetes

Beta Glucan reduces the glycemic index of food and slows the absorption of glucose. This in turn reduces postprandial glucose (33% to 62%) and insulin (33% to 51%) levels, making it easier to control blood glucose levels and avoid complications caused by hyperglycemia.

  • The addition of 4 g to 8.4 g of Beta Glucan added to a cereal meal reduced glycemia by 33% to 62% and subsequent insulin spikes by 33% to 51% (Tappy, 1996).
  • Beta Glucan slows the release of glucose into the bloodstream by inhibiting its absorption from the gut, resulting in increased satiety and decreased ghrelin (hunger hormone) (Slavin, 2013; Cloetens, 2012; Juvonen, 2009; Beck, 2009; JADA, 2008; Slavin, 2007; Dikeman, 2006).
  • Beta Glucan slows the rate of glucose metabolism (Cloetens, 2012) making it easier for diabetics to control their disease.
  • 14.5 g Beta Glucan significantly lowers concentrations of glucose and insulin after meals (Braaten, 1991; Ostman, 2006).
  • Beta Glucan reduces the maximum rise of blood glucose levels secondary to its high viscosity (Paquin, 2013).
  • Beta Glucan (2.2 g to 5.7 g per meal) decreases insulin secretion over 2 hours (Beck, 2009), resulting in better glycemic control for diabetics and promoting weight loss.
  • Beta Glucan decreases plasma glucose and insulin levels until 4 hours after meals (Bourdon, 1999).
  • Beta Glucan reduces postprandial glucose by 28% and insulin by 26% (Casiraghi, 2006).
  • Beta Glucan (4 g to 8 g) decreases postprandial blood glucose and glycemic index (by 43% to 47%) 45 to 60 minutes after a meal (Thondre, 2009).

Benefits, Side Effects, Interactions


  • Beta Glucan has antitumor properties and enhances the destruction or killing process of cancer cells (Akramiene, 2007).
  • Beta Glucan improves immune response by increasing the activity of macrophages and lymphocytes (Chan, 2009; Daou, 2012).
  • Beta Glucan decreases dyslipidemia and associated risks such as cardiovascular complications, hypertension, nephrotoxicity and hepatic injury (Daou, 2012; Clemens, 2012; Paquet, 2010).


Beta Glucan is Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) according to FDA.

Side effects

These symptoms are generally short-lived and can be minimized or avoided by increasing intake of fiber-rich foods gradually and increasing water intake to 3 liters per day.

  • Flatulence: Beta Glucan increases gas production resulting in increased flatulence.
  • Abdominal cramping: Beta Glucan increases gas production which may result in abdominal cramping.

Drug interactions

  • Antidiabetic drugs: As both Beta Glucan and antidiabetic drugs decrease blood glucose levels, it is important to monitor glucose levels and speak to a physician about decreasing the antidiabetic drugs if required.
  • Antihypertensive drugs: Beta Glucan may reduce systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive individuals, particularly those who are obese (Katz, 2001). Therefore, concomitant use of Beta Glucan and antihypertensive drugs (like captopril (Capoten), enalapril (Vasotec), losartan (Cozaar), valsartan (Diovan), diltiazem (Cardizem), amlodipine (Norvasc), hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL), furosemide (Lasix), etc.) may increase the risk of hypotension and should be used with caution.
  • Immunosuppressants: Beta Glucan might decrease the effects of immunosuppressants (like azathioprine (Imuran), basiliximab (Simulect), cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune), daclizumab (Zenapax), muromonab-CD3 (OKT3, Orthoclone OKT3), mycophenolate (CellCept), tacrolimus (FK506, Prograf), sirolimus (Rapamune), prednisone (Deltasone, Orasone), and other corticosteroids (glucocorticoids)) because of its immunostimulant effects (Sherwood, 1987).
  • Indomethacin: Combination of indomethacin and Beta Glucan increases the lethal toxicity of oral indomethacin (Yoshioka, 1998). Until more information is available, use the combination of indomethacin and Beta Glucan cautiously.

Interactions with herbs & supplements

Herbs and supplements with hypotensive effects: Beta Glucan may have hypotensive effects in some individuals (Katz, 2001). Therefore, combining Beta Glucan with other herbs or supplements with hypotensive effects (like andrographis, casein peptides, cat’s claw, coenzyme Q-10, fish oil, L-arginine, lycium, stinging nettle, theanine, etc.) might increase the risk of hypotension.

Interactions with foods

None known.

Interactions with lab tests

Diagnosis of fungal infections: (1,3)-Beta-D-glucan in the blood is used as a surrogate marker for fungal infection diagnosis (Hachem, 2009). Theoretically, consumption of Beta Glucan may produce false positive results when beta-glucan assays are used (Pazos, 2007).

White blood cells count: Beta Glucan can cause a transient increase in the number of white cells (leukocytosis) (Babineau, 1994).


  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding: There is limited research and therefore best to avoid while pregnant or breastfeeding.
  • Diabetes: As Beta Glucan lowers blood glucose levels, it is important to monitor glucose levels to avoid hypoglycemic episodes.
  • AIDS/HIV: Thick patches of skin on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet (keratoderma) can develop. The condition can start during the first 2 weeks of ingestion and generally disappear 2 to 4 weeks after use of Beta Glucan stops (Duvic, 1987).


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This research was sponsored by GLOBESITY FOUNDATION (nonprofit organization) and managed by Don Juravin. GLOBESITY Bootcamp for the obese is part of GLOBESITY FOUNDATION which helps obese with 70 to 400 lbs excess fat to adopt a healthy lifestyle and thereby achieve a healthy weight.

Tags: beta glucan, healthy gut flora, weight reduction, GLOBESITY FOUNDATION, weight loss, cravings, diabetes, healthy weight

DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.3964416