The category of nutritional supplements called Glyconutrients is so new that most of the experts in dietary supplements still haven’t heard of them or appreciate their importance. Glyconutrients occur naturally in many plants that have been used medicinally in various cultures for centuries. For example, aloe is recognized worldwide for its healing properties, but the functional component is actually a glyconutrient. Simply put, Glyconutrients are a food group, like proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals.
Glyconutrients are not one of the most recent discoveries but they are without question, the most important for supporting human health. Glyconutrients fall under the heading of a group of plant chemicals called monosaccharides, or more simply as sugars. They are not like the sugars used to sweeten food and drinks, these sugars are what the body really needs.
For a human body to be in a state of optimal health, all its 6 trillion or so cells need to be able to communicate with each other. Cells have needs that get fulfilled by other cells, such as nutrition, identification, defence, replacement and elimination of toxins. They communicate these needs through incredibly complex interactions at their contact points, i.e. through their surfaces, as they actually make physical contact.
The medium of contact is via molecular hairs on the surfaces of cells, consisting of glycoproteins. Without proper nutrition in the form of glyconutrients, glycoproteins cannot be properly formed and without them, the communication breaks down. This is now thought by many researchers to be a principle-contributing factor to a vast array of diseases loosely categorized as either autoimmune or chronic degenerative disease. These diseases were not present 50 years ago in the form and proportion we find today.
There are eight monosaccharides that have been identified as absolutely essential for proper intercellular communication to occur, but only two of them are present in the average modern diet. Your body can make some of these sugars, but it takes ideal conditions and up to 37 stages to produce 1 monosaccharide. This process places an additional burden on the metabolism resulting in little energy to live a truly vital, normal life. However, with the discovery of Glyconutrients and by adding it to the body, the body can do amazing things.
Since the discovery of Glyconutrients and their importance, huge amounts of money have been invested by pharmaceutical companies to try to synthesise drugs that will replicate their effect, so far without great success. However, there are a number of plants that do produce particularly useful quantities of the sugars and products have become available that use new technology to maintain active ingredient viability through extraction and blending processes.
Such products are not specific to symptoms or disease. As a food supplement, they do not mask symptoms or cure anything – they simply enable the body to heal itself. The AMA has already recognised the need for food supplementation in the case of vitamins and minerals, while the need for supplementation with glyconutrients is now supported by a vast amount of recent scientific research and anecdotal evidence of remarkable results. Improved communication between cells leads to healthier tissue, glands, and organs, and ultimately healthier bodies and lifestyle.
Glyconutrients have been recognized and discussed in many national and international forums. The Australian Journal of Chemistry and the 21st International Carbohydrate Symposium have published many papers, while the Queensland government and Griffith University recently spent $13 million on a new research facility in this field. Both Scientific American and Science magazines have devoted considerable space to the issue, and essential texts for doctors and medical trainees such as the Physicians Desk Reference and Harper’s Biochemistry also now include relevant sections.
Source: Param Berg (Informed choice 2004 Vol 2. No. 2 Pg. 77 – 78)
Dr Steve Nugent – The Missing Nutrients, 2005