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Consumption Of Plant Polysaccharides May Boost Healthy Immune Systems

January 12, 2011: 10:44 AM EST

Scientists have found that adding soluble plant fibers to a diet may enhance the immune system response in healthy individuals. Fibers from plants such as fungi, lichens and algae can positively impact key cellular functions, including changes in protein glycosylation. Glycosylation is an enzyme-directed process where a glycan (a type of polysaccharide, or carbohydrate chain) attaches to a protein, fat or other organic molecule. Glycans play various roles, including proper protein folding and cell-cell adhesion, which is used by immune system cells to help keep the body healthy. According to this study, supplementing the diet of healthy individuals with plant polysaccharides increased the subjects’ levels of fully-processed glycans, resulting in a potential boost in their immune responses.

A. Alavi, O. Fraser, E. Tarelli, M. Bland, J. Axford , "An open-label dosing study to evaluate the safety and effects of a dietary plant-derived polysaccharide supplement on the N-glycosylation status of serum glycoproteins in healthy subjects", European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, January 12, 2011, © Nature Publishing Group
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