Sugars - Glyconutrients
Glyconutrients are known as the 8 essential sugars needed for optimal health
and functioning in humans. Nutritional scientists and glycobiologists have identified over 200 glyconutrients found in nature
but only 8 are essential for cell-to-cell communication in people.
All of the 8 essential sugars (saccharides) aid
in intercellular communication, but each glyconutrient also has special properties as well on a cellular level.
Here is a list of the 8 essential sugars:
4. Fucose (not to be confused with fructose)
7. N-AcetylNeuraminic Acid
Now, everyone is familiar with glucose since this is the most talked about of the 8 essential sugars and the one that supplies energy to our
cells and muscles. Table sugar itself is composed of glucose and fructose (not fucose) and we know what eating sugar will
do to our energy level (or that of our kids!).
Mannose is a little different from glucose since it is absorbed 8 times slower and
through the upper GI tract. Mannose is perhaps THE major player when it comes to intercellular communication. Mannose is involved
in more cell interactions than any of the other sugars and a deficiency in mannose has been linked to a whole host of health
Galactose is another of the 8 essential glyconutrients and in found mostly in dairy
products and in some fruits. Galactose can inhibit many health problems from starting and also useful in the healing process
Fucose (not fructose) is found abundantly in mother's breast milk and in specific
mushrooms. Fucose is found in high concentrations in the nerve synapses (spaces between nerve endings), in the outer layer
of our skin and in the kidneys and testes.
N-AcetylGalactosamine is probably the least known of the 8 essential sugars and more research is
needed to pinpoint its roles in disease prevention and healing. Patients with various cancers such as colon cancer have been
found to have about half as much N-AcetylGalactosamine as do non-cancerous people.
N-AcetylGlucosamine has been linked to helping immune system functioning especially in relation
to a whole host of immunological disorders. N-AcetylGlucosamine is found in the thyroid gland, testes, liver and small intestines.
Shark cartilage, shiitake mushrooms and supplements are good sources for N-AcetylGlucosamine.
N-AcetylNeuraminic Acid has been linked to brain development, learning, memory and cognitive
performance. N-acetylneuraminic acid is found mainly in the glycoproteins and glycolipids and widely distributed throughout
the human body. Studies have shown that N-AcetylNeuraminic Acid is effective in fighting against viruses and airborne allergens.
Xylose has been shown to have both antibacterial and antifungal properties. Diabetics
sometimes use the commercial derivative of Xylose, (Xylitol) as a sugar substitute. Xylose is absorbed in the small intestine
where it increases the friendly flora, which in turns helps all other nutrients absorb more effectively. This is but a
short list of how the 8 essential sugars help in healthful functioning. There are many more diseases and conditions that have
been helped by the addition of glyconutrient supplements to one's diet. As with any supplements, it is recommended that you
check with your physician first before starting on a program of supplementation.