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Posts Tagged ‘glycoproteins’

Until recently, scientists have primarily focussed on the study of proteins as it was believed that proteins were responsible for cellular communication and cellular recognition (Smith 2002). However, within the last ten years, the developing field of glycobiology has shown that glyconutrients may play a vital role in cellular communication and may represent a new category of nutrients and dietary supplements.

It is said that these sugar molecules constitute an ‘alphabet’ of ‘letters’ that can be combined in endless ways to form ‘words’ which are used by the body to communicate information required for healthy function. McAnalley and Vennum (2000), explain that the process of molecular communication codes can be thought of as a written language whereby just as four different shapes can be combined to make many letters and the letters can be combined to make words, the different carbohydrate molecules combine to make cellular recognition (McAnalley and Vennum 2000, p2).

Once cells have been sufficiently glycosylated only then are they able to send a cell-to-cell communication and communicate with other cells, (i.e. recognise the enemy and tag it). It is believed that autoimmune diseases occur when cells are not glycosylated (the presence of a sugar added to a protein) and thereby unable to differentiate between a ‘friendly’ cell and an ‘unfriendly’ cell (Nugent 2005, p21). Although it is recognised that a multiple of factors ensure good health and no nutrient stands alone in this process, there is strong belief that without proper cell-to-cell communication, there is no hope for good health because without communication there can be no function (Nugent 2005, p21).

The above is an extract from my dissertation, for which I received a First Class Honours:  ‘What is the evidence for glyconutrients? The concepts and theories behind glyconutrition and glyconutrient supplementation’.

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The human body is an amazing living machine. The body has the genetic capacity to defend itself against bacterial invaders to cleanse itself of destructive toxins and thus to heal itself from damage and disease as well as to absorb and utilize nutrients needed for fuel. Equipped with natural killer cells it can identify and kill tumour cells and cells infected with viruses, fungi and bacteria. However, the health of the body will largely depend on how well it is fed. If vitally important nutrients are missing from the diet then the body cannot keep healthy, it cannot succeed at the complex job it is designed to do. To illustrate this point, research studies have shown that the immune system (over the past 15 years) has lost over 25% of natural killer cell (NK) function due to toxins, viruses and daily stressors (Khemka, D.M et al, 1997). Additionally, NK cell activity increases by 50% after glyconutritional supplementation in healthy individuals and by 400% amongst chronic fatigue individuals (See et al, 1997). It seems then that the ability of the human body to heal itself is present, yet is lacking the energy required to adequately protect, detoxify and heal itself. Roger Williams internationally known biochemist and nutritional scientist, in his book Nutrition Against Disease, stated that the theme of his life’s work and all his many books on nutrition is captured in the statement: “The human body heals itself and nutrition provides the resources to accomplish the task”.

Glycoscience is the study of the structure and function of carbohydrates – biological sugars. Scientists in the field of glycobiology (the study of these sugars and their role in human biology) have proposed that specific dietary sugars, called glyconutrients, could represent a new class of nutrients with interesting benefits to health. Being neither vitamins, minerals, herbals, homeopathics or enzymes, they are a class all to themselves.

In the 1960s research first began to appear on glycoproteins – protein molecules bound with carbohydrate molecules. Glycoprotein molecules coat the surface of every cell with a nucleus. It is now known that carbohydrates on the cell surface are used as communication molecules. Carbohydrate molecules, therefore, are thought to provide the most specific form of biological information. This new technology demonstrates that by providing the body with the raw nutrients in the form of these simple sugars, the body is able to heal, correct and repair itself.

It goes without saying then, that if our immune systems are strong and healthy then we can fight off invaders which attack it.

The above is an extract from my dissertation ‘What is the evidence for glyconutrients? The concepts and theories behind glyconutrition and glyconutrient supplementation’. I received a BSc First Class Honours in Complementary Health Sciences.

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