In the closing pages of ‘How To Stop Feeling So Awful’ (see homepage), published in 2000, I refer to Glyconutrients under the heading ‘Cellular Communications’ (page 159). At that time, the importance of these eight ‘essential’ sugars had only recently been recognised. The purpose of this newsletter is to provide an update of our knowledge and understanding of Glyconutrients.
On the surface of all cells are receptors (a form of code that resides on the membrane of every cell) called ‘glycoproteins’ and ‘glycolipids’, which are molecules composed of proteins or fat and simple sugars (monosaccharides), and they play a key role in all cellular communication.
They essentially act as the language between the cells of our body.
These special molecules are found on the surface of every cell and allow the immune system to distinguish between self and non-self. This code is the basis, for example, for blood types, the functioning of the immune system and the body’s ability to heal itself.
Glycoproteins are used by the body for many other purposes including building enzymes, hormones, immunoglobulins and antibodies. Glycoproteins are found in every cell.
The Eight ‘Essential’ Sugars
The textbook ‘Harper’s Biochemistry’ (Murray et al., 1996), lists eight monosaccharides, sugars, commonly found in human glycoproteins, which are known to be important to, and essential for, the healthy functioning of the human body. These, known as ‘glyconutrients’, are:
· N-acetylneuraminic acid
These eight come from approximately 200 monosaccharides found in nature.
Only two of these, glucose and galactose, are regularly found in our diet. The other six sugars are generally deficient in, or absent from, our diet. Glucose can, however, be converted through a large number of enzymatic steps to the deficient ones, a process using a large amount of energy (see below ‘Natural sources of Glyconutrients’).
Glyconutrients span these nutritional sciences:
· cell-to-cell communication
· the endocrine (hormonal) system
· the immune system.
A deficiency of glyconutrients leads to a breakdown in cell-to-cell communication, the internal communication system that harmonises the trillions of cellular functions every second.
The following analogy illustrates how a deficiency of one or more glyconutrients can affect, and interfere with, cellular communication.
The 26 capital letters of the alphabet are made up of four basic building blocks: a long stick |, a short stick ½, a large half-circle ), and a small half-circle ). For example:
A is 2 long sticks and one short stick
B is one long stick and 2 small half circles.
Q is 2 large half circles and one short stick
Now visualise the page of a book, printed in capitals, in which there is a ‘deficiency’ of, say, small half circles and small sticks:
a B may be printed as a P or an I,
an E may be printed as an F
an R may be printed as a P.
Or, with a ‘deficiency’ of large half circles, a C may be absent etc.
It would be virtually impossible to read that page, and increasingly so, the greater the deficiency.
Inability to read the page of print correctly, if at all, would result in a breakdown in communication.
Lack of Glyconutrients
Deficiencies of glyconutrients, with a resultant breakdown in cell-to-cell communication especially in the immune system, contribute to a large number of diseases:
- the many autoimmune diseases (where the immune system reacts against components in the body by failing to differentiate self from non-self) such as rheumatoid arthritis, thyroiditis and systemic lupus
- allergies: these are the result of inappropriate response by the immune system to ‘non-self’, eg grasses, pollens, house dust mite. Such allergies express themselves in diseases such as asthma, eczema, hay fever
- fibromyalgia, the Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)
- reduced resistance to bacterial and viral infections.
The reduced ability to distinguish self from non-self is the basis for autoimmune disease. The ability to do the opposite, which is the normal and correct function of the immune system, is the basis of the body’s ability to maintain good health. For example, the immune system, in particular the natural killer T-cells, recognises cancer cells and in health destroys them, and thus effectively fights cancer (see below). The immune system also protects against all kinds of infections, such as bacterial and viral infections.
What can Glyconutrients do for Me?
The eight essential glyconutrients found in glycoproteins:
- Communicate between invading pathogens and human host cells, which leads to host immune responses.
- Help in many aspects of immune system function, including non-specific defences, macrophage activation, and cell tissue migration, all of which are essential for good health and freedom from disease.
- Are important for cell-to-cell communication signals, which direct immune cells where and when to leave the blood stream. Thus glyconutrients are pivotal to migration patterns of cells and host defence.
- Play a role in modulating the immune system, by either activating or inactivating natural killer T-cell activity. Natural killer T-cells are essential for a normal healthy functioning immune system. For example, they recognise and destroy cancer cells. The immune system gives ‘immunity’ against infection.
- Aid, assist and help in the maintenance or the improvement of the body’s general well-being, with resultant vitality.
Sources of Glyconutrients
In ‘How to Stop Feeling So Awful’, I indicated that, in 2000, the eight essential glyconutrients were available as supplements, having recently been introduced into Australia. Unfortunately, that product (Ambrotose) was and still is only available from the manufacturer direct or via distributors and their downline. Everyone in the chain of selling benefits financially, making the cost to the consumer exorbitant. The actual product is relatively inexpensive. A recent internet testimony (soliciting more people to join her downline in selling), indicated that $20,000-$30,000 was her income from the sales of the product (and associated related products) per month!
Is there an alternative to paying high prices for the final product, in what amounts, in many although not all instances, to a type of pyramid selling which enriches multiple people on the downline?
There are herbal mixtures that have Glyconutrients in them. For example, IM-Support (for the immune system) and GlycoPower, both marketed by S.A.F.E (Australia), are more cost effective than, for example, Ambrotose.
Perhaps the best way to approach the important challenge of ensuring that you have adequate supplies of glyconutrients is as follows.
Natural Sources of Glyconutrients
Nutritional science has long identified the eight essential amino acids, the building blocks of peptides, polypeptides and finally proteins found throughout the body. These are leucine, isoleucine, lysine, valine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine and tryptophan. These amino acids are called “essential” because the body cannot produce them and they must be obtained from the diet.
The eight ‘essential sugars’ (monosaccharides) are not essential in the same way as the ‘essential amino acids’. The body requires all eight of these sugars for optimal health, but they do not have to be obtained from the diet and indeed, as indicated above, in the typical diet, only two (glucose and galactose) are present.
The principal sources of sugars in the human diet are fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes and dairy products. The fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes provide starches that are broken down by enzymes in the body to glucose (starch is made up of long branching chains of glucose molecules).
Glucose can be transformed in the body by enzymes to form xylose, mannose, fucose, N-acetylglucosamine, N-acetylgalactosamine, and N-acetylneuraminic acid.
Diary products provide the milk sugar lactose, a disaccharide that is broken down by enzymes to form glucose and galactose.
The six sugars that the body can produce from glucose cannot be properly called ‘essential’ in the same sense that the eight amino acids mentioned above are called essential. Nevertheless, your body requires all eight of these sugars, and hence they are ‘essential’.
The transformation of these sugars from one form to another by the body requires both enzymes and energy. Generally, these transformations involve many intermediate steps and each step requires specific enzymes and more energy in the form of ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) molecules. A diet of cooked and ‘prepared’ foods is deficient in enzymes and leads to an enzyme deficiency in the body. Only fresh foods contain enzymes. Therefore, the presence of sufficient ATP molecules and enzymes in the body to convert the sugars cannot be taken for granted. A deficiency in APT or enzymes will lead directly to a deficiency in the sugars and a consequent breakdown in the body’s communication system, hence contributing to many diseases. The conversion process also requires vitamins and time.
Obtaining the sugars from diet is more reliable and efficient. However, the eight essential sugars are largely missing from the modern diet due to green harvesting (ie picking/harvesting before fully ripe, then storing and often artificially ripening), over-processing, cooking and preserving.
This further underscores ‘The Ideal Diet’ (‘How to Live to 100+ Years Free from Symptoms and Disease’, see homepage) as being made up of foods that are organically grown, fully ripened on the plant, vine or tree, then consumed raw.
Although glucose and galactose are readily available in the modern diet and the other six sugars are either absent or generally deficient, it is worth listing the natural (ie food) sources of the eight essential sugars.
|Essential Sugar||Food and Natural Sources||Notes|
|Glucose||Nearly all ripe fruits and vegetables, legumes and grains. Honey||Fruit, vegetables and honey should be raw where possible.|
|Galactose||Diary products. Fenugreek, kelp, apples and apple pectin, grape juice. Most fruits and vegetables also contain some of this sugar. Echinacea.||Fruit and vegetables should be raw where possible.|
|Mannose||Aloe Vera (acemannan is a chain of mannose molecules), fenugreek, shiitake mushrooms, kelp, carob gum, guar gum, currants, gooseberries, green beans, capsicum, cabbage, eggplant, tomatoes and turnip.|
After glucose (from which 6 of the essential sugars can be formed in the body), mannose is the next most important of the 8 sugars. Commercial supplements of Aloe Vera generally only have small amounts of acemannan. It is best to have fresh Aloe Vera.
Fenugreek contains plenty of galactomannan, which is a polysaccharide of mannose and galactose. Other sources of this galactomannan are carob and guar gum.
Fruit and vegetables should be raw where possible
|Fucose||Kelp, brewers yeast, wakame seaweed||Kelp seaweed is rich in fucoidan, a polysaccharide which is a complicated molecule. Apart from plenty of fucose, it also contains xylose, mannose, glucose and galactose.|
|Xylose||Kelp, psyllium powder, guava, pears, blackberries, loganberries, raspberries, Aloe Vera, broccoli, spinach, eggplant, peas, green beans, cabbage, corn, Echinacea||Ground psyllium pods are high in xylose polysaccharide. It is cheap and easily obtained.|
|N-acetylglucosamine||Shiitake mushroom, shark cartilage, bovine beef cartilage, glucosamine sulphate||Shiitike mushrooms contain N-acetylglucosamine. If not wishing to consume animal products, this is the product of choice.|
|N-acetylgalactosamine||Shark cartilage, bovine cartilage, chondroitin sulphate||Those not wishing to consume animal products orally could use an arthritis cream containing chondroitin sulphate.|
|N-acetylneuraminic acid. (also known as sialic acid)||Whey protein concentrate or isolate, chicken egg white (best raw and organic)|
The amounts of the different glyconutrients that are found in the various foods listed are highest when the foods are fully and naturally ripened on the tree, vine etc. The reality is that most of our fruits and vegetables are picked green, often stored for long periods, and frequently artificially ripened, before they reach the market where your grocer purchases them, then subsequently bought by you to consume in due course. So different to the ideal of going out into your organic garden and picking fresh, sun-ripened fruit etc!
Hence the need for supplements, including glyconutrients.
An on-line search (March 2007) provided details of some retail prices of four of the available glyconutrients (all in A$):
Ambrotose powder - 150gm - $240.00 - $1.60 per gram
Nutratose powder - 115 gm - $128.00 - $1.11 per gram
Glycomannan powder - 120gm - $91.00 - $0.76 per gram
GlycoBalance powder - 110gm - $86.00 - $0.78 per gram
(Lesser amounts are also available, but at higher relative prices. Capsules are even more expensive)
Although we are told that these contain all 8 glyconutrients, the actual amount of each is not clearly disclosed.
More information on these and other glyconutrients can be found at glyconutrientreview.com.
It is also worthwhile to note that the company marketing Ambrotose strongly encourage and recommend taking other of their products, such as Phytaloe, suggesting inadequacy of Ambrotose alone to provide glyconutrient supplementation. The other products, generally in capsule form, have a similar pricing structure.
Homemade Glyconutrient Powder Recipe
The following is a homemade Glyconutrient Powder. Compared to the high cost of commercial products, as detailed above, the following mixture is relatively non-expensive. It is thus much more affordable and a higher dosage compared to the commercial products can be taken. Also, being unrefined, the following ingredients contain other nutrients as well. The whole food is always best.
The following mixture has been adapted from www.alkalizeforhealth.net and www.heartspring.net
|Ground fenugreek powder||1 part||mannose, galactose||Most readily available in capsules. These are easily pulled apart to yield the powder.|
|4 mushroom powder.(The 4 mushrooms in the powder are Shiitake, Reiishi, Maitake, and Cordiceps Sinensis)||1 part||mannose, N-acetylglucosamine|
|Kelp powder||1 part||fucose, xylose, mannose, galactose and glucose|
|Either whey protein isolate or powdered egg white (albumen)||1 part||N-acetylneuraminic acid||If allergic to dairy, or if excluding dairy products, use the powered egg white (albumen) alternative.|
|Shark cartilage powder (containing both glucosamine and Chondroitin sulphate)||2 parts||N-acetylglucosamineN-acetylgalactosamine|
|Psyllium powder||1 part||Xylose||Psyllium is included since there is not a lot of xylose in kelp|
Simply mix the powders together
A very small amount of cayenne pepper powder may be added to enhance digestion and as an extra tonic.
Brewers yeast may be added to enhance fucose content.
1 part lecithin granules may also be added since there is some evidence that it increases the absorption of glyconutrients.
Homemade Glyconutrient Powder – Cost and Availability
All the ingredients are readily available from a good vitamin shop.
As an example of availability and costing, I was able to purchase all the required ingredients at my local discount vitamin house (Mr Vitamins in Chatswood, Sydney). The following table gives the items and prices. Prices should be similar at other vitamin supply stores, but good advice is to shop around for the best prices.
|Item Purchased||Amount||Cost||Cost per 10 gm|
|Healtheries Fenugreek capsules.Each capsule equivalent to 1000mg dry seed Fenugreek||90 capsules||19.95||2.21|
|MediFoods 4 mushroom blend. (Shiitake, Reiishi, Maitake and Cordiceps Sinensis)||60gm||25.95||4.33|
|Blooms Health Products Kelp powder||200 gm||5.60||0.28|
|+ International Health Investments P/L Egg Albumen 100% egg albumen||500 gm||19.95||0.40|
|South Australian Shark Cartilage P/L 100% pure powder.Contains Glucosamine and Chondroitin Sulphate||200 gm||69.95||3.50|
|Bonvit Psyllium Husk Powder||170 gm||6.00||0.35|
Using the recipe given earlier,
10gm Fenugreek - $2.21
10gm Mushroom blend - $4.33
10gm Kelp powder - $0.28
10gm Egg albumen - $0.40
20gm Shark cartilage - $7.00
10gm Psyllium powder - $0.35
provides 70 gm glyconutreint powder for $14.57, ie 21 cents per gram
The Dose of Glyconutrient Powder
Initially there may be some adverse side effects as the glyconutrients have their therapeutic effect. So I recommend starting with a small amount, say ¼ teaspoon per day. Gradually increase the amount to one teaspoon (5 grams), once or twice a day.
The powder can be added to water, or fruit or vegetable juice, or sprinkled onto breakfast muesli or cereal etc.
In addition to the daily intake of the powder, kelp and wakame seaweeds, shiitaki mushrooms, fenugreek and whey isolate are all foods and can simply be eaten as part of a meal, twice a week. For example
· kelp or wakame, fenugreek, shiitake mushrooms, rice and vegetables
· whey isolate mixed with dates and yoghurt for dessert.
Glyconutrient supplementation is considered generally safe and non-toxic. People with known allergies to fungi (mushrooms) and yeast should avoid these products.
* Copyright 2007: The Huntly Centre.Back to the list Print friendly version