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Glyconutrients

 

‘Glyconutrients’ is basically a marketing term invented by an MLM company selling certain carbohydrate products. It doesn’t actually mean much more than ‘digestible sugars’ but nevertheless seems to have gained popular usage. It even seems to have spawned a derivative word, ‘glycobiology’ - presumably meaning the study of the metabolism of sugars.

The ‘basic’ sugar molecules are monsaccharides, long chains which repeat a simple arrangement of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen, and which may have more complex clusters of the same atoms at one end. More complex sugar molecules may consist of two (disccharides) or even three (trisccharides) such chains.

Most of our sugar uptake is in the form of glucose and fructose. Table sugar (sucrose) contains roughly 50% of each, and all starches are broken down into glucose molecules in the early stages of digestion. There are also a number of other ‘simple’ sugar types that are found in our food in very much smaller quantities. Mannose, galactose and xylose (monosccharides) and maltose (disaccharide) are probably the most frequently encountered, but the group also includes more obscure sugars such as fucose, N-acetyl neuaminic acid, N-acetyl glucosamine and N-acetyl galactosamine found in aloe vera, certain medicinal mushrooms, bread moulds, gums, pectin and breast milk. We can digest some of these, but many are simply excreted in the urine.

The term ‘glyconutrients’ is presumably intended to refer to these sugars, but there is no credible evidence that any of these obscure sugars are of any nutritional significance or exhibit any significant medical benefits.

However, certain complex carbohydrates containing mannose DO have powerful physiological benefits including anti-retroviral activity and protection and repair of DNA. These ‘mannans’ such as acemannan are found in the Aloe vera plant and are probably present in many other succulent plant species where they act as water retaining gels.

 

 

 

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