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What is Arabinoxylan?

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  • Written By: Paul Scott
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 13 November 2016
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Arabinoxylan is a herbal extract commonly used as a dietary supplement. The compound is a combination of sugars present in the cell wall structures of many cereal grains and wood. It is believed to boost the immune system and aid in glucose metabolism, thereby benefiting those suffering from insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes. It is also a fundamental part of dietary fiber essential for healthy gastrointestinal functioning. In addition, arabinoxylan is being investigated as a possible baking additive to enrich and improve bread doughs.

Arabinoxylan is a co-polymer compound made up of arabinose and xylose. Both of these constituents are pentose sugars found in the cell walls of plants. Arabinoxylan aids in strengthening the plant cells structurally and serve as storage elements for phenolic acids such as ferulic acid. These phenolic acids serve several biological functions in the plant including defense against fungal infections. The acids in arabinoxylan also lend the compound promising antioxidant characteristics.

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Commercially, the extract is sourced from cereal grains such as wheat and rice. The extraction process typically involves partial hydrolyzation of wheat or rice bran and treatment with lentius edodes mycelia enzymes. The resultant combination of hemicelluloses is rich in arabinoxylan and is the main ingredient in dietary supplements. Arabinoxylans are a major constituent of dietary fiber which also makes the extract a valuable digestive aid when the extract is not over processed. The extract has also shown promise as a baking additive where it may be used to improve the working and nutritional quality of bread doughs.

The use of arabinoxylan as a dietary supplement is focused on its reported immune system boosting characteristics. The compound appears to achieve this by encouraging the bodies production of natural defensive elements known as cytokynes. These substances boost immune system functioning and destroy viruses and cancerous cells as part of the bodies natural defense regimen. Although the exact mechanisms responsible for these effects are still unknown, clinical studies have shown encouraging results in this regard. The extract has also been shown to help those suffering from insulin resistance or type 2 diabetes with their insulin response.

Although trial results have been promising, there is very little formal scientific research available regarding this compound. Much formal scientific research is still needed if arabinoxylan is to gain full legitimacy. Although generally considered safe, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) banned it in 2004 due to unreasonable claims made regarding its efficacy in treating cancer, HIV, and diabetes. As with all supplements, its use should only be considered after consultation with a medical professional.

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