These are accumulations of calcium or cholesterol in the duct running from the liver to the gall bladder, which stores bile used for digesting fats. If this duct is blocked, fats cannot be properly absorbed and jaundice occurs. It is not excesses of calcium or cholesterol in the diet that are to blame, but rather how these substances are dealt with in the body. Often, gallstone victims have inherited very narrow bile ducts, increasing their risk of this condition. Lecithin helps to emulsify cholesterol, and optimum nutrition in general should help prevent such abnormalities occurring. Digestive enzyme supplements contain lipase to help digest fat.
Glyconutrients are kinds of sugars,
either attached to protein, in which case they’re called glycoproteins, or
attached to fat, in which case they are called glycolipids. Glucosamine, for
example, is a kind of glycoprotein, not only essential for joint health, but
also for controlling inflammation. All cells are coated with them and the
pattern of glyconutrients controls the passing of information, as well as
nutrients, between cells.
Conventional wisdom talks about the body
running on one fuel, a type of sugar called glucose much like a car runs of
petrol. The purpose of eating all carbohydrates, it is said, is to digest them
down to release glucose. While your glucose intake and level is critical its
not the only sugar the body uses. There are seven others. These are:
Galactose. Milk sugar, lactose, breaks
down into glucose plus galactose. Galactose is also found in figs, grapes,
peas, tomatoes, hazelnuts, beans and fruit that has a high pectin content such
as apples. Galactose is one of the key components that determines your blood
type for example. Another vital glyconutrient is N-acetylgalactosamine, which
can be made from galactose and appears to have anti-cancer properties.
Fucose. This is in breast milk, and also in mushrooms, especially some of the
so-called power mushrooms such as shiitake, as well as seaweed suck as kelp and
wakame. It has been shown to affect brain development, respiratory tract
infections and allergic reactions. Once again, it’s a critical component of the
antigens that determine your blood type.
Mannose. This is one of essential sugars
needed for healing. It also helps control tumour growth, and fights invaders
such as bacteria and parasites and, generally, acts as an anti-inflammatory
nutrient. The main active ingredient in aloe vera is acemannan, a type of
mannose. Glucomannan, a type of fibre found in the konjac plant, and a
favourite of the Japanese diet, is another example of dietary sources of
Xylose. This is found, for example, in
plums and is the father of xylitol, a sugar I often extol for its negligent
effect on blood sugar levels, making it a perfect replacement for sugar for
those weaning themselves off sugar. It has anti-bacterial and anti-fungal
properties which is why xylitol is associated with reducing dental caries.
N-acetylglucosamine. This one is again
involved in immunity, especially in the gut, helping to repair the intestinal
mucosa and supporting the growth of benefical bacteria. It is perhaps best
known as the precursor for glucosamine. It is found in the shells of crustacean
such as prawns and shrimps.
Glucosamine. Vital for joints,
glucosamine is found in high concentrations in the joints of all mammals, where
it stimulates the formation of collagen and helps rebuild cartilage, tendons.
Other variations of this molecule, such as glycosaminoglycans, rich in green
lipped mussels, have well reported anti-inflammatory effects, helping to heal
N-acetylineuraminic acid. This is also
found in breast milk and is especially important in brain development and
learning. It also lower cholesterol and is important for blood clotting.
These seven, together, with glucose,
appear to be the key glyconutrients we need. While the body can make these from
other sugars and amino acids it is now clear that it prefers to obtain a direct
Another glyconutrient that’s been
hitting the headline is beta-glucans, especially rich in oats. Many studies
have shown beta-glucans to help lower cholesterol, hence my continued emphasis
on oats as opposed to wheat. Although not considered part of the eight key
‘intelligent sugars’ a specific form of beta glucans called beta 1-3, 1-6
glucan is clearly a potent immune system stimulator. It is derived from yeast
and specifically activates macrophages turning on your immune system.
This is caused by improper metabolism of proteins, resulting in uric acid crystals being deposited in fingers, toes and joints and causing inflammation. Diets low in fat and moderate in protein help this condition, as does exercise. However, the many nutrients involved in protein metabolism, especially B6 and zinc, are also an essential part of a nutritional programme for preventing gout.