Do We Really Need Glyconutrients?

Healthy bodies do have methods for enzymatically converting glucose into these necessary sugars.
However, these conversions are energetically expensive. Our small intestines have specific pumps that take glyconutritionals directly into the blood where our cells can immediately use them to build glycoconjugates. In addition, science suggests we should consume glyconutritionals because:

  • Nature intended us to consume them. Human breast milk and the foods of our hunter-gatherer ancestors are abundant sources of many glyconutritionals.
  • Infants born without the ability to synthesize certain conversion enzymes die unless they are fed some of these sugars.
  • Parenteral feeding using glucose alone cannot sustain life over extended periods of time.
  • Glyconutrients are simple carbohydrates that the body uses for everything from embryonic development to regulation of the immune system.

Why Do We Need Glyconutrients?

It is understood that the genetic code contains the instructions for normal function of cells. Going from instruction-to-production requires adequate building supplies and energy to make healthy cells. Ideally our diets would provide the necessary nutrients to support health. However, today’s modern diet is sadly deficient in many of the critical nutrients.  (see Journal of the American Medical Association, vol 287, 2002)

In the last 30 years (see Timeline below) a growing awareness has emerged of the essential status of certain sugars in addition to glucose, which is very abundant in the diet. (Glucose is the dominant source of metabolic energy in cells.) These essential sugars are placed strategically on proteins and lipids that coat the surface of cells, which contributes to healthy cell function.  As cells interact with each other, proper recognition and communication are critical for normal function, defense, repair, and hormone response. The absence or deficiency of glyconutrients makes cell-to-cell communication more difficult.

Glyconutrients supply the body with key compounds required to support cellular function and immune system response. When they are supplied in adequate amounts, the body does amazing things.

What Does Science Say?

Scientific American devoted the entire July 2002 issue to these glyconutrient sugars, calling them the “Sweet Medicine” of the future.

Science Magazine, the premier journal for researchers and scientists, dedicated the entire issue of March 23, 2001 to the emerging field of glycobiology and predicted exciting possibilities for healthcare with these sugars.

Biotechnology predicted over 10 years ago the importance of these cellular carbohydrate sugars, and devoted an entire issue, Feb 1990 to this. “Almost without exception, whenever two or more living cells interact in a specific way, cell surface carbohydrates will be involved. From the first meeting of sperm and egg, through embryogenesis, development and growth, carbohydrate molecules confer exquisite specificity upon cell-cell interactions.”

Muscle & Fitness magazine reported in their May 1999 issue on these “Super Sugars” and called them “the key to renewed immunity”. The article went on to state that without these Super Sugars, “your recovery from intense training may be compromised and your gains in lean body mass impeded.”

Dr. John Rollins, former head of the biotechnology division of the U.S. Patent Office, calls glyconutrients one of the most important healthcare discoveries of the 21st century.

Scripps Research Institute in San Diego, received a $34 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2003 to lead a study to better understand how cells use sugar compounds to communicate, an important step to understanding disease.

Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation was awarded in September 2003, a $10 million grant from the NIH to learn more about the role of the sugars in biology.

Harpers’ Biochemistry, one of the major textbooks used in medical schools, discusses the importance of glyconutrient sugars to cells since being published in it in 1996.

Physician’s Desk Reference, the PDR for Non-Prescription Drugs and Dietary Supplements discusses these saccharides since edition 22 published in 2001, and notes that “those who have health challenges may discern improvements in specific signs and symptoms”.

New Scientist, “Sweetness and Might: Awesome power of the glycome” October 26, 2002. John Hopkins University biochemist, Gerald Hart, states “We won’t understand immunology, neurology, developmental biology or disease until we get a handle on glycobiology.”

MIT Technology Insider, Feb. 2003, “If you don’t have glycosylation, you dont’ have life.” “The medical potential is absolutely enormous.”

Timeline of Glycoscience

1970 – 500 glycobiology papers published.

1976 – 8 essential sugars identified in glycoproteins and glycolipids.

1980 – 1500 glycobiology papers published.

1990 – 4000 glycobiology papers published.

1990 – Role of carbohydrates involved in intercellular communication and immune function described in BioTechnology Vol 8

1995 – Cell surface sugars reported necessary for normal immune function.

1996 – Harper’s Biochemistry, Murray et al.: chapter on glycoproteins focuses on the 8 necessary sugars used in glycoproteins and glycolipids for cellular communication

1998 – Acta Anatomica devoted an entire article, special March issue on glycoscience; reported the information content of biological sugar combinations exceeds the DNA code

1998 – Finding that galactose and mannose are “essential” sugars, not synthesized from glucose

2000 – 8000 glycobiology papers published

2001 – Science March 23 issue features “Carbohydrates and Glycobiology”; reviews structural and functional uses of 8 critical sugars in cellular physiology

2001 – NIH grants consortium $34 million to study cell-cell communication interactions

2002 – Scientific American: July “Sweet Medicine: Building Better Drugs from Sugars.”

2002 – New Scientist Archive: October story depicts glycobiology as the future of immunology, neurology, developmental biology

2002 – Biochimie devotes two issues to glycobiology

2003 – “Glycomics” identified as “One of 10 Emerging Technologies That Will Change the World.”

2003 – 23,218 Medline articles with keyword “glycoprotein” published

2004 – DVD – Glyconutrients and Stem Cell Production by H. Reginald McDaniel, M.D.

2007+ There are thousands of scientific papers on Glycobiology published every year




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