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Glyconutrients- the latest development in the health industry. What are glyconutrients? Is this just a craze or is there actually substantial evidence to their effectiveness. Why are glyconutrients so important to our health and what are the actual health benefits associated with these vital nutrients? You, too, can benefit from the use of glyconutrients in your diet as this new discovery is making headway across the globe.
The eight essential saccharides our bodies need are mannose, glucose, galactose, xylose, fucose (not to be confused with fructose), N-acetylglucosamine, N-acetylgalactosamine, and N-acetylneuraminic acid. The eight saccharides serve as the building blocks for the manufacture of large molecules made of sugars in combination with proteins and/or fats called glycoforms, which cover the surface of all cells.
Each of these glyconutrients is associated with a specific health benefit. To understand the purpose of each of these glyconutrients is essential to understanding the overall health benefits.
"I like to compare mannose to a Christmas tree, upon which the other essential saccharides are affixed like ornaments. Mannose is a major player in tissue remodeling and intelligent interactions between cells. The addition of mannose to your diet can accelerate the process of cellular communication and healing; inhibit tumor growth and spread; and prevent bacterial, viral, parasitic, and fungal infections." 1 Cytokines are the chemicals that make the body feel achy when we have a cold or flu. Mannose plays a very essential role in the production of cytokines. Mannose is found in the inner leaf gel of Aloe Vera plant.
If you are at all familiar with any saccharide it is probably glucose. Combined with another saccharide, fructose creates what we know as table sugar. This saccharide is found in items such as candy bars, cupcakes, and ice cream as well as foods as bread, rice, pasta and some vegetables. Glucose is a potent, quick energy source that can be absorbed directly by the blood stream. Memory enhancement, calcium absorption and cellular communication are some of the central health benefits of this saccaride. One down side to Glucose is that to much intake of this saccharide will raise your insulin levels which can lead to obesity and diabetes.
Galactose is another widely known saccaride, though usually heard of only when found in combination with glucose. If you are familiar with the term lactose intolerant then you may be vaguely familiar with this glyconutrient. Together with glucose it forms a disaccharide by the name of lactose. Galactose is found mainly in dairy products. Health benefits include inhibiting tumor growth and spreading especially in the liver. Healing of wounds and decreasing inflammation are other benefits along with enhanced cellular communication.
Xylose is an antibacterial and antifungal carbohydrate. Research has given us evidence that Xylose may help prevent cancer of the digestive tract. Certain manufacturers will substitute xylose for ingredients such as sucrose and corn sweeteners in products like chewing gum or toothpaste. Unlike table sugar and corn sweeteners, Xylose does not cause dental problems.
Fucose is abundant in human breast milk and certain mushrooms. Research has linked this glyconutrient to a wide variety of activities in the brain including brain development and the ability to create long-term memories. An immune modulator, Fucose inhibits tumor growth and its spread. Fucose has been found at the junctions between nerves, kidneys, and even in the testes. In diseases such as cystic fibrosis, diabetes, and certain cancers, metabolism of fucose is found to be at abnormal levels. Another benefit found with fucose is its ability to guard against respiratory tract infections while inhibiting allergic reactions.
N-acetylglucosamine is not only hard to pronounce but is also difficult to find in our modern day diets. In the immune modulator class along with Fucose, N-acetylglucosamine has anti-tumor properties and has been shown to produce activity against HIV. Glucosamine, which is used for cartilage in our knees, elbows, and other moving parts, is a metabolic product of this glyconutrient. Repairing cartilage, decreasing pain and inflammation, and increasing the range of motion in osteoarthritis are all benefits of glucosamine. Some symptoms of diseases such as Crohn's, ulcerative colitis, and interstitial cystitis have been shown to improve with the use of N-acetylglucosamine. The most abundant supply of this glyconutrient is found in mother's breast milk.
Although N-acetylgalactosamine has not been researched to a great extent, it has been shown to inhibit tumor spread and help with the cell-to-cell communication process. Some studies have shown that people with heart disease have lower-then-normal levels of N-acetylgalactosamine. Also found with n-acetylglucosamine in the mother's breast milk.
N-acetylneuraminic acid is vital for brain development and learning. Some of the benefits that have been associated with N-acetylneuraminic acid are brain development, blood coagulation, lowering the LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, and inhibits strains of influenza A and B. Those diagnosed with Sjogren's syndrome as well as alcoholics have a hard time with the processing of this sugar. As we age the levels of this saccaride decrease, causing the risk of problems in our health. One of the most predominant places that this nutrient is found is also with the above two glyconutrients in the vital breast milk.
"The missing link" as some health officials would call these eight essential saccarides is found in many different plants and fruits. Unfortunately their sources are not as saturated with these vital glyconutrients as they once were. Due to green harvest, soil depletions, and our utilization of processed foods, our bodies are not receiving these glyconutrients in the amounts that we need to maintain optimal health. Research is beginning to create the like between the epidemic of the breakdown of the bodies systems resulting in the illnesses that are so common today and the profound lack of glyconutrients in our daily diets.
If you are interested in maintaining the health that will enable you to live longer and disease free, please research these vital glyconutrients and find out how they can provide a life of wellness.
1 Mondoa, Dr. Emil I., Sugars That Heal. New York: Ballatine Books, 2001, page 24
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