What is a polysaccharide and how does it relate to mushrooms?

Today we will answer a question related to the quality and potency of mushroom supplements – what is a polysaccharide and what does it have to do with mushrooms? Mushrooms are packed with active ingredients that help support your health and well-being.* From Reishi to The lion’s maneTurkey Queue to Cordyceps militarismushrooms give you both overall and targeted support.*

As you begin to learn more about how mushrooms provide this support – and the specific active compounds in specific species – you will undoubtedly hear the word polysaccharide. And if you pick up one of our bottles and scan the QR code, you’ll see the beta-glucan content, as well as a guarantee that our products contain only 100% mushroom fruit (or fruiting bodies) – no grain mycelium grows. And that’s when the conversation will start to include polysaccharides.

Let’s start with a quick nutrition lesson.

What is a Polysaccharide?

What is a polysaccharide? A polysaccharide is a form of carbohydrate. You may also hear polysaccharides called “complex carbohydrates.” The other main type of carbohydrate is known as a monosaccharide or simple carbohydrate.

The difference between the two starts at the molecular level. Polysaccharides are made up of longer chains of sugar molecules linked together. This type of carbohydrate takes longer to be broken down and digested by your body. Monosaccharides are simple sugars, made from one sugar unit. They are broken down and digested faster. (Many = many, mono = single.)

When it comes to mushrooms, polysaccharides are usually listed on the label – but not all are created equal. There is a unique group of these, called beta-glucans, that are thought to be the mostbioactive” polysaccharides.* These are the ones to look for!

In Mushrooms, 1.3; 1,6 Beta-glucans are the best polysaccharides

Some mushroom supplements list “polysaccharide” content on their labels. But that’s not the whole story. Polysaccharides may include chitin, an indigestible polysaccharide that forms the cell walls of mushrooms. Chitin is what keeps the “good” – all those active compounds – locked away. (Also found in insect exoskeletons and is impressively strong!)

That’s why we need to extract mushrooms so we can access everything inside. Consider the active compounds in mushrooms like Rapunzel. The extraction is like her golden hair, which gives us a way to access the princess who is locked up high in the tower. Without this “rope”, we can’t reach the princess!

You know what else counts as a polysaccharide? The residual grains used for mycelium growth. So when a product talks about polysaccharide content (and doesn’t especially the beta-glucan content), can measure the substrate left (seeds).

Our labels always share beta-glucan content. Check out this example from us Mushroom Mix Daily 10 Tincture: 1.3/1.6 beta glucans: 1.65%

Look for 1,3/1,6 beta-glucans

What is a polysaccharide that you must I am looking? These would be the beta-glucans. These are a type of polysaccharide that has been shown to support both the immune system and healthy cell growth, among other aspects of your health.* Some mushrooms contain specific polysaccharides, such as the lentinan found in Shiitakes or polysaccharide K (also known as as PSK) in Turkey Ures.

Different types of beta-glucans have different numbers, which you’ll see on our labels. They are named based on their branching structure. Mushrooms have beta-glucans 1 to 6. To consumers, the differences don’t matter, but to mycologists they do!

So now we’ve answered ‘what is a polysaccharide’ – and identified some of the ones you’ll find in mushrooms. But what about how they work?

How beta-glucans work

After you take a drop of our tinctures or eat a delicious meal of mushroom risotto or soup made with mushroom broth, your body begins to digest them. The beta-glucans in your shrooms bind to a type of white blood cell that consumes and breaks down cellular debris, known as macrophages.

All this happens in the intestines. After that, beta-glucans are ingested and transported to various parts of your immune system, such as your spleen, lymph nodes, and bone marrow, among other places. In the bone marrow, beta-glucans are broken down further.

You can see why it’s important to look for beta-glucans and not just polysaccharides when buying mushroom extracts and other mushroom products. You want the best possible quality, purity and potency – and you don’t want to pay for grain residue and weak mycelium. You want 100% mushroom fruit bodies.

So this answers the question “what is a polysaccharide?” Keep checking back for more mushrooms!

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