Category Archives: glycocalyx

Neuraminic acid was known first as sialic acid

Neuraminic acid, or sialic acid as it was first called, is a monosaccharide with nine carbons. It has a negative electric charge which gives compounds containing it a negative charge. This is useful for keeping molecules like red blood cells from getting to near to each other. The negative charge on the surface glycoproteins repels the red blood cell from each other or from the walls of blood vessels which also have compounds containing sialic acid.

Mature red blood cells have an active life for about seven days.  White blood cells remove older red blood cells and de-sialylation of the surface proteins is one way the older cells are identified. Cancer cells with the ability to produce excess surface sialyation may have an increased chance to metastasize and turn up somewhere else in the body. [13]

Our bodies need to be healthy and well enough nourished overall to keep the whole system working. The neuraminic acid is produced within our cells from other chemicals in a series of membranous channels called the endoplasmic reticulum and the golgi apparatus. The channels have embedded enzymes along the way somewhat like an assembly line in a factory. We can not just eat more sialic acid in our diet and have it show up on our cell surfaces – we have to be healthy enough and well enough nourished over all in order to be able to manufacture our own supply of sialic acid.

Therapeutic glycoproteins are being developed and the problem of just the right amount of sialylation is one of the hurdles being studied. [2] In addition to the negative charge sialic acid tends to stabilize and stiffen the protein portion of the glyco-compound.  The proteins that line vessels were described to be somewhat like bottle-brushes; the protein being somewhat like the sturdy wire handle of the brush and with the negatively charged sialic acid acting as bristles that electrically repel other molecules of sialic acid. [1]

/This article was originally posted on 8/21/2013./ /Disclaimer: Information presented on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical care and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician./

More recent research from the scientists at the University of Zurich, regarding sialic acid, found an association between the presence of autoimmune disease and reduced levels of sialic acid on the individual’s antibodies, which are important for the body’s immune cells to be able to recognize and remove infected or foreign or decaying cells: “Specific Sugar in Antibodies Structure Determines the Risk of Autoimmune Diseases,” Oct. 7, 2015, [molecularbiologynews.org]

References:

  1. S.A. Brooks, M. V. Dwek, U. Schumacher, Functional and Molecular Glycobiology, (BIOS Scientific Publishers, Ltd., 2002), Amazon.
  2. Bork K, Horstkorte R, Weidemann W., “Increasing the sialylation of therapeutic glycoproteins: the potential of the sialic acid biosynthetic pathway.” J Pharm Sci. 2009 Oct;98(10):3499-508. doi: 10.1002/jps.21684.  [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  3. R. T. Almaraz, et. al., “Metabolic Flux Increases Glycoprotein Sialylation: Implications for Cell Adhesion and Cancer Metastasis.” Mol Cell Proteomics. 2012 July; 11(7): M112.017558. Published online 2012 March 28. doi:  10.1074/mcp.M112.017558 [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

 

Nasal congestion and fiber; a glycocalyx clarification

In a previous post, Glycocalyx – What’s Snot All About?

Homemade chicken soup and mucilaginous fibers would be more likely to help promote healthy nasal mucous than the fiber found in broccoli or bran cereal. Bulky vegetable and whole grain fiber is more beneficial within the gastrointestinal tract for supporting healthy bacteria but it is not typically absorbed into the blood stream.

Fiber is made up of long branching or straight chains of sugar molecules. Cellulose, a common fiber in plants, is not typically digestible by humans. Bacteria in the guts of ruminant animals like cows help breakdown the fiber contained in grasses so the nutrients become available to the animal.

The nutrients from bulky long chain fibers are broken down and used to support the growth of the gut microbes rather than being digested by our enzymes and absorbed into the bloodstream. However some of the nutrients from fibers that would normally be indigestible by human enzymes may become available after they are partially broken down or modified by certain types of gut microbes. Butyrate / butyric acid is an example of a fatty acid with anti-inflammatory benefits that can be produced by certain types of bacteria from fiber that would be indigestible without the help of the bacteria. [1] The addition of a probiotic strain of bacteria, Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG, to infant formula has been found to help promote the production of butyric acid for infants with cow’s milk allergy and it helped reduce their level of allergic sensitivity. [11]

Having plenty of bulky fiber from foods like broccoli in addition to having plenty of water can help move everything through the GI tract at a steady rate and make constipation unlikely. Other types of mucilaginous fiber can have a laxative effect possibly by helping to attract and retain water in the bowels. [2] The word mucilaginous refers to something that contains or helps produce mucilage — that gooey stuff lining the cell membranes and the rest of the body.

Mucilaginous fibers are found in the vegetable called okra which is commonly used in Creole or Cajun gumbo type stews. The inner fiber of the slippery elm tree is also a source of mucilaginous fiber. Look for very finely ground slippery elm powder in herbal specialty stores. Slippery elm bark helped keep Revolutionary War soldiers alive during a harsh winter when they were left hungry enough to eat the inner lining of tree bark. Other settlers depended on it for food too. [3]

Marshmallow root powder [4] is similar to slippery elm powder but the marsh mallow plant is more available than slippery elm trees which may be help explain why more people have heard of marshmallows than slippery elm trees but it also might be the deliciousness of marshmallows. The sweet airy candies were originally made with marsh mallow powder. Either slippery elm powder or marshmallow root powder may help soothe sore throats or sore digestive systems when dissolved in tea or taken with some other food. I add a 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of slippery elm powder in a mug of herbal tea when I have a sore throat. Commercially slippery elm powder has been available in the Herbal Medicinal brand tea called Throat Coat. Marshmallow root powder is categorized as an expectorant within herbal medicine which means it may help loosen lung congestion.

Chia seeds also contain a mucilaginous fiber. Okra, slippery elm powder and chia seeds may also help prevent constipation or may help if constipation is already a problem. [2]

Chicken soup made the old fashioned way may also help loosen congestion because it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent and helps thin nasal congestion. [5] Glucosamine may be released from cartilage and bone marrow during the long slow cooking of a soup stock made with bones. [9]  Glucosamine is also the healthy type of sugar found in the tough shells of insects (chitin, [10]) and in the shells of shellfish. It has been found beneficial for reducing arthritis pain with a 1500 mg/day dose. [8]

Hot pepper also helps loosen nasal congestion but not because of mucilaginous fiber. The capsaicin content of hot peppers reduces nasal congestion by activating vanilloid receptors. Capsaicin is now available in a nasal spray for non-allergic rhinitis. It may be helping to desensitize overactive vanilloid receptors for some people. [6, 7]

Adequate fluid and sodium and other electrolytes are also important for a healthy glycocalyx. It is a protective layer where white blood cells patrol for pathogens and the sticky mucous helps collect dust and other debris and move it out of the lungs and nasal passages. The glycocalyx layer coating our GI tract may also help prevent allergens from entering the blood stream and add strength to the delicate layer of cells and tight junctions that make up the walls of intestines. A fiber rich diet not only feeds the good guy bacteria, it may also help prevent food allergies by strengthening the intestinal walls.

The branching water soluble mucilaginous fibers weave together and form an intricate network that might look semi solid but is really mostly water — like a gelatin dessert. The structure can be unstable however and dissolve easily in the presence of excess acidity or salt. So my self care treat when I’m feeling very congested is a trip to a restaurant for a bowl of Hot and Sour Soup. It has the capsaicin from hot pepper and the anti-inflammatory power of chicken broth and garlic and it also provides fiber and other nutrients from the two types of mushrooms, straw mushrooms and black fungus, and the baby sweet corn, bamboo shoots, and water_chestnuts.

This post is part of a series on the glycocalyx:

  • Food Additives, leaky intestinal membranes, and autoimmune disease
  • Fringe Report: The glycocalyx, fiber rich produce, and intestinal health, 
  • Transport across the glycocalyx; a link
  • Glycocalyx – What’s Snot All About?

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Bibliography:

  1. Butyric acid-producing anaerobic bacteria as a novel probiotic treatment approach for inflammatory bowel disease. [1]
  2. Michael Ravensthorpe, Three mucilaginous foods that make great natural laxatives, July 18, 2014, [2]
  3. By Victor A. Croley, Slippery Elm Uses: Learn the benefits of Slippery Elm trees, including how to use it as a natural health remedy., January/February 1977, [3]
  4. Marshmallow Root Powder [4]
  5. Mayo Clinic Staff, Chicken soup: Can it cure a cold? [5]
  6. Alisha Mehta, Chili Peppers and Nasal Congestion, Nov. 8, 2011, [6]
  7. Umesh SinghJonathan A. Bernstein, Intranasal Capsaicin in Management of Nonallergic (Vasomotor) Rhinitis., Capsaicin as a Therapeutic MoleculeVolume 68 of the series Progress in Drug Research pp 147-170 [7]
  8. WebMD, Supplement Guide: Glucosamine [8]
  9. eatlocalgrown.com, Benefits of Bone Broth, [9]
  10. food-insects.com, Chitin, [10]
  11. Roberto Berni Canani, et. al., Lactobacillus rhamnosus GG-supplemented formula expands butyrate-producing bacterial strains in food allergic infantsThe ISME Journal advance online publication, 22 September 2015; doi:10.1038/ismej.2015.151 [11]
  12. Fiber Consumption Increases Beneficial Bacteria in the Gut Microbiome, 8/20/2015, [12]
  13. Oh B, et. al., The Effect of Probiotics on Gut Microbiota during the Helicobacter pylori Eradication: Randomized Controlled Trial. Helicobacter. 2015 Sep 23. doi: 10.1111/hel.12270 [13]

Glycocalyx – What’s Snot All About?

*This post was written in 2010 as the second chapter of a book that I had started writing about nutrition and my own struggles with health. I’ve shared other sections from the book but I had never shared the following chapter because of the taboo nature of nasal mucous — common sense suggested that it is just too controversial a topic to write about nasal congestion — but snot’s all right, we need it to help stabilize the thin layers of membranous cell walls that surround all of our cells and organs.

“Good behavior is attained at a young age.”                            – Burkino Faso proverb

[1, African wisdom desk calendars, Annetta Miller]

Is picking it and eating it a disgusting and filthy habit or an oral vaccination boost to the immune system? “Enquiring minds want to know — I want to know.” [2] Traditional Eskimo cultures conserved fluid and heat by picking and eating it. [3]

Just what is snot? It may be described as a freeform gelatinous matrix of glycolipids and glycoproteins that covers our internal surfaces and is known as the glycocalyx.

Good snot, bad snot, it’s not all the same. Healthy mucous layers are two millimeters thick — about the same width as a piece of thread or single strand of hair. Obviously we can produce a lot more than that in response to sickness or allergies. Over the course of my life I have had a lot of experience with nasal mucous and congestion. Most of my childhood was spent breathing through my mouth because I was so congested, so often. On a good day I would be able to breath through one or the other nostril but usually both were congested – and messy. Eventually I learned how to tell whether I needed antibiotics or more antihistamine based on the color, texture, and smell of my nasal mucous.

Gross yellowish-green mucous that had a rotten smell and a stringy, sticky texture meant go to the doctor and get antibiotics because the congestion has become a lung infection.

Thin, watery, clear or whitish mucous is produced in large amounts during allergy attacks. Mucous produced due to allergies didn’t have smell associated with it in my experience. The thin fluid mucous produced in such large amounts during allergies may be helping the body carry the allergen debris up and out of the lungs. Constantly suppressing this response with medications may produce short term symptom relief, however in the long run using medications that dry up mucous may be allowing the allergens full access to deeper lung tissue made accessible through the artificially opened airways. The mucous is part of our body’s defense system.

Coughing and sneezing and moving the mucous out may be better for your health than regularly using an over the counter medication. Cleaning up the environment and removing dust and allergens would also probably be better for your health, when possible, ie: you can stop smoking but you have little control over smog alert days beyond wearing a face mask and voting for environmental protection; or you can vacuum and wash your bedding weekly but you may not be able to give away the family pet as easily.

I tried a nasal steroid spray for the first time recently and discovered myself producing a brand new type of mucous. My airways felt more open than usual but I also developed a new cough that felt like I had something stuck in my throat that I was choking on, like a cat with a hairball. When I successfully cleared the mucous, it appeared a typical whitish color but the texture was much stickier and slimier — more like my childhood toy can of Slime. I stopped using the steroid nasal spray fairly quickly; free flowing snot’s all right — sticky, slimy snot is not — it isn’t able to be expelled as easily. Free flowing mucous allows the body to carry allergens and pathogens up and out of the lungs when the mucous is thin enough to allow productive coughing.

Occasionally I would blow my nose and find little round globule of clear semi-solid mucous — fascinating for an easily amused and not easily disgusted child — they looked just like a gelatin dessert without the bright food coloring. The chemical structure of mucous is similar to a gelatin dessert or fruit jams and jelly. Fruit jams and jelly thickens when the pectin fiber is cooked. Heating the pectin fibers cause them to change shape and form the semi-solid structure of the jam or jelly. Gelatinous mixtures are all fairly chemically unstable and minor changes in acidity or hydration may cause changes in the structure or cause the gelatinous mixture to dissolve back into a fluid.

Chemical mixtures are made when we cook food. Tiny chemical changes can produce big changes in a “free-form gelatinous matrix.” You could experiment by adding a little lemon juice or carbonated beverage to a bowl of a gelatinous dessert or scoop of jam. The acidity should cause the gelatinous structure to break apart and get watery looking again.

The glycocalyx may act a little like glue between cells or like a sealant coating pipes in a plumbing repair. The jelly-like glycocalyx helps protect our inner surfaces around cells and in the lining of blood vessels and throughout the intestinal tract. A healthy glycocalyx layer may help prevent allergens from leaking through the intestinal lining into the bloodstream. Pectin is important for making jam or jelly and eating fiber rich foods everyday is probably just as important for maintaining a healthy glycocalyx. Good sources of fiber include any whole plant foods such as: vegetables, fruits, mushrooms, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and herbs and spices. There is also a healthy type of fiber in edible insects called chitin.

Happy dining!

— on fiber rich foods of course.     😉

Read more about which types of fiber are beneficial within the GI tract and which types of foods and fiber might help with nasal congestion:  Nasal congestion and fiber; a glycocalyx clarification

 

A gelatin dessert.

*Having enough water every day is also important for healthy mucous. And the electrically active minerals sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium are also important in fluid balance and healthy mucous .

Read more: Electrolytes are essential, magnesium helps protect brain cells 

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

 

 

 

 

 

Bioslime is another word that is used specifically to describe the gelatinous glycocalyx layer produced by pathogens on the surfaces of transplant devices and tubing used in patient’s wounds for drainage or tube feedings.

 

Transport across the glycocalyx; a link

More information and illustrations about the structure and function of the glycocalyx and tight junctions are available online from an academic textbook called, Molecular Cell Biology, 4th Ed.:

Interestingly, cells grown in a solution with very low concentrations of calcium ions formed a monolayer with a lack of tight junctions between the cells but when calcium ions were added to the solution, tight junctions formed between the cells within an hour.

–This could suggest that calcium ions are necessary for cell monolayers to be able to form the tight junctions — or it might suggest that tight junctions are formed between cells in the presence of calcium in order to prevent the calcium ions from passing between the cells. Or in other words: Does the presence of calcium ions allow the tight junctions to form? Or do the tight junctions form because there are calcium ions present that need to be prevented from passing through the cell monolayer?

More research has been done and it suggests that the intracellular calcium ion level is also important for maintaining strong tight junctions. Both intra- and extrcellular levels of calcium are kept under careful control during normal health. Tight junctions also will become disfunctional if intracellular calcium levels become elevated.

Magnesium ions inside of the cell are also important for controlling intracellular levels of calcium. Nutrients usually have to work together as a team.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Fringe Report: The glycocalyx, fiber rich produce, and intestinal health

The term glycocalyx may be used to refer to the surface area of membranes that surround a single human or bacterial cell, or to the surface area of the membranes that form the interior or exterior of an organ, blood vessel, or the gastrointestinal tract. The fiber found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, beans, whole grains, mushrooms and a few other foods helps us form the glycocalyx. Pectin in fruit is a type of fiber that thickens into gelatin when the fruit is cooked. The fiber works together in our intestines to form a jelly like layer that lines and helps stabilize the intestinal walls. White blood cells can move around in the jelly layer patrolling for allergens or infectious agents.

Some of the fibers that are found in the glycocalyx layer are electrically active. The electric charge coating the interior of vessels and the intestine help to keep the area open because it acts like two magnets that are held together so the repel each other instead of joining – the electrically  active chemicals lining the intestine push each other away rather than attracting each other and it helps keep the interior of the vessel wide open and flowing freely. Adequate fiber and water helps prevent constipation. See  “Neuraminic acid was known first as sialic acid” (8/21/2013) for more information about electrically active sugars.

 

[The Glycocalyx, Our Jelly Filling, ]

[Glyco-compounds – essential sugar building blocks, ]

[We are what we eat., ]

[Alp Luachra, an old name for edematous malnutrition, ]

And four posts that lost their paragraph breaks when I copied them onto one page:

Sugars give energy and structure to life (July 16, 2013)

Neuraminic acid was known first as sialic acid (8/21/2013)

To termites, trees are kind of like giant sugar cubes (8/21/2013)

GPI anchors are cell membrane glycoproteins (8/27/13)

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Glyconutrient posts

Title: Sugars give energy and structure to life (July 16, 2013)
/This is the first of a few posts about glycocompounds. //second one: Neuraminic acid was known first as sialic acid// third one: To termites, trees are kind of like giant sugar cubes/
Carbohydrates are formed from carbon and water molecules. The name means ‘hydrate of carbon.’ Individual carbohydrate molecules are called simple sugars or monosaccharides. They are commonly found in the diet as disaccharides, pairs of two monosaccharides, and as long chain polysaccharides in the form of the energy rich starches and the indigestible fiber found in cell walls of plants. The individual monosaccharides may be found as a straight chain of linked carbon atoms or as closed rings. The ring form is more stable chemically. A glass of sugar water made with pure glucose would only have ~0.0026% of the glucose molecules in the straight chain formation, the rest would be in some variation of the the ring form.
The juice of the sugar cane gives us sucrose or table sugar, which is made up of two 6 carbon monosaccharides, one molecule of glucose and one of fructose. The disaccharide lactose is better known as milk sugar and is made up of one molecule of galactose and one of glucose.
Mannose and fucose are monosaccharides that are less common in unprocessed foods but are very useful as food additives in mixtures such as ice cream or pudding. Fucose is commonly found in brown seaweeds. About forty percent of the dry weight of brown seaweeds is the commercially useful alginate polysaccharides. Alginates are used as food additives to help stabilize mixtures and act as emulsifiers which help keep the mixture well mixed while standing on the grocery shelf. Mannans are the polysaccharide of mannose. Mannans are found in red algae which is useful for its agar and carrageenan content. They are used as food additives for their gelatinous properties and as thickeners. Carrageenan may be a health risk and has been shown to cause inflammation, impaired glucose tolerance and increased insulin resistance in lab animals at levels that might be found in comparable amounts in an average day’s food for a person.
Mannans are also the main type of energy storage starch in the seeds of the oil palm trees. One variety of the tree species, the ivory nut tree, is also known as ‘vegetable ivory.’ The mannan within the ivory like seeds resembles the overlapping long polysaccharide chains of cellulose, which is the type of fiber more commonly found in plant cell walls.

Other uses of the oil palm:  There are two types of oil produced from the seed of oil palm trees. Palm kernel oil is paler in color than the reddish color, beta-carotene rich, palm oil. Palm kernel oil contains a higher percentage of saturated fat than palm oil. It may increase the risk of high blood cholesterol but is an inexpensive cooking oil. Palm kernel oil is also frequently used in the production of soap because some of the saturated fatty acids produce good lather, even in salty sea water. Fibrous seed pulp that is left after oil production is used as animal feed.

The monosaccharide mannose may be the active factor that gives cranberries a reputation for helping prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). The monsaccharide is thought to help make the lining of the bladder more resistant to infectious bacteria. More research is needed though to prove health benefits from cranberries or from more concentrated supplemental doses of D-Mannose.
(To be continued later – Glyconutrients are essential for helping protect cell surfaces from infectious agents – so fans of cranberries are probably onto a good thing.)
/Disclaimer: Information presented on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical care and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician./
References:

  1. S.A. Brooks, M. V. Dwek, U. Schumacher, Functional and Molecular Glycobiology, (BIOS Scientific Publishers, Ltd., 2002), Amazon.
  2. “Out of One Many, or How to Use Agar Agar,” (Dec. 17, 2008) by chocolatecoveredKatie.com.
  3. “Palm Kernel,” Wikipedia (Warning: this Wikipedia entry contains an old war propaganda poster about harvesting palm seeds which may offend some people and for that very reason should never be forgotten.)
  4. “Palm Kernel Oil,” Wikipedia.
  5. “Palm Oil,” Wikipedia.
  6. “D-Mannose Offers Great Protection Against Urinary Tract Infections,”  SmartPublications.com.
  7. “Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of a health claim related to a Uroval® and urinary tract infection pursuant to Article 14 of Regulation,” (EC) No 1924/20061, EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA), European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), Parma, Italy
    pdf: efsa.europa.eu.
  8. L. Johnston, “Natural Urinary Tract Health: The D-Mannose Solution,” healingtherapies.info.
  9. A Weil, “Is Carrageenan Safe?” (Oct. 1, 2012), drweil.com.

Title: Neuraminic acid was known first as sialic acid (8/21/2013)
Neuraminic acid, or sialic acid as it was first called, is a monosaccharide with nine carbons. It has a negative electric charge which gives compounds containing it a negative charge. This is useful for keeping molecules like red blood cells from getting to near to each other. The negative charge on the surface glycoproteins repels the red blood cell from each other or from the walls of blood vessels which also have compounds containing sialic acid.
Mature red blood cells have an active life for about seven days.  White blood cells remove older red blood cells and de-sialylation of the surface proteins is one way the older cells are identified. Cancer cells with the ability to produce excess surface sialyation may have an increased chance to metastasize and turn up somewhere else in the body. [13]
Our bodies need to be healthy and well enough nourished overall to keep the whole system working. The neuraminic acid is produced within our cells from other chemicals in a series of membranous channels called the endoplasmic reticulum and the golgi apparatus. The channels have embedded enzymes along the way somewhat like an assembly line in a factory.
Therapeutic glycoproteins are being developed and the problem of just the right amount of sialylation is one of the hurdles being studied. [2] In addition to the negative charge sialic acid tends to stabilize and stiffen the protein portion of the compound.  The proteins that line vessels were described to be somewhat like bottle-brushes; the protein being somewhat like the wire handle with the negatively charged sialic acid acting as bristles. [1]
/Disclaimer: Information presented on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical care and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician./
References:

  1. S.A. Brooks, M. V. Dwek, U. Schumacher, Functional and Molecular Glycobiology, (BIOS Scientific Publishers, Ltd., 2002), Amazon.
  2. Bork K, Horstkorte R, Weidemann W., “Increasing the sialylation of therapeutic glycoproteins: the potential of the sialic acid biosynthetic pathway.” J Pharm Sci. 2009 Oct;98(10):3499-508. doi: 10.1002/jps.21684.  [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]
  3. R. T. Almaraz, et. al., “Metabolic Flux Increases Glycoprotein Sialylation: Implications for Cell Adhesion and Cancer Metastasis.” Mol Cell Proteomics. 2012 July; 11(7): M112.017558. Published online 2012 March 28. doi:  10.1074/mcp.M112.017558 [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

Title:  To termites, trees are kind of like giant sugar cubes (8/21/2013)
Sugar cubes contain the disaccharide sucrose which contains the monosaccharide fructose in addition to glucose. The cellulose portion of trees is made of long fairly straight chains of glucose with no fructose, so trees and sugar cubes aren’t really alike. The bonds between table sugar and tree fiber are at slightly different angles but different enzymes are needed to break them down during digestion. The straighter angle between the simple sugars of plant fiber allow the linked chains of glucose to line up with each other. The lined up fibers then can form layers a little like sheets of paper stacked in a book, except it would be a doughnut shaped book. Cellulose or other types of plant fiber is found in the cell walls of the leaves, stems and roots.
Chitin is similar strong chain of the simple sugar N-acetylglucosamine. The simple sugars in chitin and cellulose both have the slightly straighter beta angle than the bonds found in energy storage starches or polysaccharides. Termites [3] and the bacteria found in the stomach of grazing animals are able to digest the stronger beta bonds of cellulose. Humans and most other animals can’t digest them because a specific enzyme is needed.
Energy starches have alpha type bonds between the simple sugars. Alpha bonds connect at an angle that might twist into a spiral chain similar to the double helix spiral of DNA. The angled alpha bonds are also found in branching shapes of storage starches like glycogen or amylose. The sugar molecule at the end of each ‘branch’ is available for rapid digestion. Glycogen is the energy storage polysaccharide of glucose in animals and humans and amylose is the form of glucose storage used in plants. Glycogen is slightly more branched than amylose.
Tree bark and tree sap both contain glucose but the bark contains cellulose and the sap would have amylose or a similar alpha bonded energy storage starch. A shiny insect shell or seashells also are a type of sugar but not glucose. Shells contain N-acetyl-glucosamine in the form of chitin.
Supplements of glucosamine may be helpful for reducing joint pain. Studies have used 1500 mg/day. [2]
/Disclaimer: Information presented on this site is not intended as a substitute for medical care and should not be considered as a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment by your physician./
References:

  1. S.A. Brooks, M. V. Dwek, U. Schumacher, Functional and Molecular Glycobiology, (BIOS Scientific Publishers, Ltd., 2002), Amazon.
  2. “Questions and Answers: NIH Glucosamine/Chondroitin Arthritis Intervention Trial Primary Study,” National Institutes of Health, National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine [nccam.nih.gov]
  3. Nakashima K, Watanabe H, Saitoh H, Tokuda G, Azuma JI.,”Dual cellulose-digesting system of the wood-feeding termite, Coptotermes formosanus Shiraki.” Insect Biochem Mol Biol. 2002 Jul;32(7):777-84. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov]

Title: GPI anchors are cell membrane glycoproteins (8/27/13)
Glycosylphosphatidylinositol (GPI)-anchored proteins have one end that stays embedded firmly within the cell membrane and the other end can attach to a variety of important molecules such as enzymes and antigens. The enzyme or antigen is held above the cell membrane in a position that makes it available to be activated on the cell surface. The phosphatidylinositol end is lipid based and dissolves well in the fatty acid rich environment within the membrane. The glyco- or sugar part of the molecule is able to dissolve in water or form bonds with other proteins or carbohydrates.
GPI anchor proteins are essential for life. Mice that were experimentally made to lack the gene thought to encode for GPI anchor proteins did not survive. Experimental ‘knockout’ mice are usually observed to see what types of function the knocked out gene might have performed. The experiment showed that GPI anchors were necessary for survival. (Ref. 1, Brooks, Dwek, Schumacher, 2002, p 225)
GPI anchors are found in some types of G-protein couple receptors and may have importance within the cannabinoid receptor system.

  1. Brooks SA, Dwek MV, Schumacher U., Functional and Molecular Glycobiology, (Bios, 2002, Oxford, UK)
  2. Landry Y, Niederhoffer N, Sick E, Gies JP., Heptahelical and other G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) signaling., Curr Med Chem. 2006;13(1):51-63. [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16457639]
  3. Maccarrone M, Bernardi G, […], and Centonze D., Cannabinoid receptor signalling in neurodegenerative diseases: a potential role for membrane fluidity disturbance., Br J Pharmacol. 2011 August; 163(7): 1379-1390 [ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165948/]

Additional note:

GPI anchors

  1. Fujita M, Kinoshita T. “GPI-anchor remodeling: potential functions of GPI-anchors in intracellular trafficking and membrane dynamics.” Biochim Biophys Acta. 2012 Aug;1821(8):1050-8. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2012.01.004. Epub 2012 Jan 11.  Abstract: [http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22265715] “and discuss how GPI-anchors regulate protein sorting, trafficking, and dynamics.”

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

Food Additives, leaky intestinal membranes, and autoimmune disease

The newspapers that I set up using the paper.li website have been very informative. I added links to the papers that I created and to a few other newspapers hosted by the service on a page: [Virtual Stream Media]

One of the articles from today’s issue of The #Autoimmune Daily discusses seven types of commonly used food additives that may cause leaky intestinal membranes. Leaky bowel syndrome was a term that developed in association with food allergies but the problem may also be involved with the increased rates of autoimmune disease that have been occurring in the last twenty to thirty years. Intestinal membranes are thin to allow nutrient absorption but ideally would block allergens and other larger infectious material from being able to pass through to the more sterile environment of the blood stream.

Food additives may sound like minor trace chemicals but the list includes some very common additives and some newer creations: “glucose (a molecule of table sugar/sucrose, is made up of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose), salt, emulsifiers, organic solvents, gluten, microbial transglutaminase, and nanoparticles.”

During digestion the emulsifiers and organic solvents that are used in many foods and beverages and in infant formula may also be emulsifying and dissolving the tight junctions between the cells that make up our intestinal membranes.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

We are what we eat.

“The cattle are as good as the pasture in which they graze.”
-Ethiopian proverb
We can build better bodies and better babies with normal healthy food. Tweaking ratios in our supplements and formulas would make it easier to get what we need but in the mean time moderate use of typical foods can feed us well. Babies would benefit from more human milk use whether from individual mothers or donated milk banks. It would help infant’s neuro-development and might help prevent some colic and sleepless nights. If infant formula is necessary than an occasional quarter teaspoon of Milk of Magnesia might prevent problems from the slightly high calcium/magnesium ratio (cow’s milk is quite a bit higher in calcium and protein than the modified formula product and is not suitable for use with young infants).
The levels of a  few nutrients in breast milk can be adversely affected by diet or health and magnesium is one of them. The average is around 30 mg/liter but the level can drop to the low 20’s and does in malnourished populations and teen moms and it can be elevated around 45 mg/liter in diabetic moms.
Young women, aka teen moms, are also more at risk for preeclampsia, as are mothers of twins. Both of these groups have increased nutrient needs – they are eating for baby plus more. These two sub-populations are linked with malnourished women in third world country studies by the unusually low magnesium levels in their breast milk. The high levels in the diabetic women suggests to me that the cell membranes are allowing too much out – that they have become leaky somehow.
We need more vegetables, nuts, seeds, and beans for magnesium but they also give us protein and fiber. The healthy starches are necessary for a strong protective intestinal lining. White blood cells patrol and pick off allergens, infection and other information and send it up to lymph nodes. At the lymph nodes more specialized work takes place to identify the foreign proteins and replicate defensive antibodies if needed. Nature provided us this natural oral vaccination method but healthy foods are necessary to build blood cells and make the glycocalyx jelly lining around the intestinal folds.

The United Kingdom recently released the nutrition recommendation to eat less red meat. Americans were told to eat less red meat a while ago . . . and we did, however we started eating more chicken, and cheese intake also increased — from a USDA report on 1909 to 2000 US nutrient intake. [2 -Table 32] Between 1970 and 2000 red meat use dropped fifteen percent! But chicken use increased 80 percent and cheese 150 percent. Chicken in the form of nuggets and other breaded and fried forms has become a staple that had been a special occasion food . The hidden added oil of fried chickend and the saturated fats of the cheese made “eat less red meat” a nutrition recommendation that worked and failed. We are eating less red meat than we used to in America but we are eating more cheese and chicken .

I would like to encourage a positive spin of less red meat and more beans, nuts and seeds for a protein source that also provides healthy fiber and many other trace nutrients. Having a variety of types of foods daily or throughout the week will generally provide more trace nutrients. We need hundreds of types of chemical compounds, not just ten or twenty vitamins and minerals. A few trace nutrients are considered essential for our health because our bodies can not create them out of other simpler chemicals. However other trace chemicals may become more important to consume in the diet or take as supplements if a person has a problem with some of the conversion steps necessary to make important enzymes or proteins or other more complex molecules. Eating liver and onions once a month may provide a boost to our health because it provides fully formed enzymes that can be more easily reassembled by the body after they are broken down and absorbed during digestion.

Using a variety of protein sources throughout the week or mixed in the meal may provide more variety of some of the more unusual types of essential sugars. A rich beef stock made from marrow rich bones will yield glucosamine, one of the essential sugars or glyco-nutrients. Many people use it as a supplement for arthritis pain. It can have a positive effect after taking it for a few weeks. Glucosamine is found in the synovial fluid that cushions the area between the bones of the knee and other joints in the body. A supplement recommendation is 1500 mg/day. [Synovial and plasma glucosamine concentrations in osteoarthritic patients following oral crystalline glucosamine sulphate at therapeutic dose, S. Persiani, Ph.D, et. al., Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, Volume 15, Issue 7, July 2007, Pages 764–772]
Supplements may be from a shellfish source as it is frequently derived from crustacean shells so people with shellfish allergies should look for a vegetarian source.
Glucosamine is also found in the chitin of insects. The use of insects in the diet may have helped prevent kwashiokor in young children in tropical regions. The intestinal lining in some individuals, possibly those who had a recent infection, seems to malfunction in the ability to convert other sugars into glucosamine. The use of a rich broth from a bone stock might suit more people’s taste than insects. Although there are chefs presenting some appetizing dishes. . . . citations to follow when I am more awake.
Moderate use of dairy products like cheese, milk, yogurt and other calcium rich foods would benefit bone health without sacrificing magnsium absorption. Two to three dairy servings per day would provide adequate calcium. Supplements are not generally needed.
The food pyramid and http://www.mypyramid.gov is a nice start but I tend to recommend:
    • a bit less grains – swap some starchy root vegetables for the carbohydrate calories,
    • and a bit more vegetables -AICR – recommends 5-9 veg and fruit per day as anticancer medicine.
    • Juice is concentrated and limiting to 4-6 oz/day is healthy – especially for small bodies.
    • A bit less meat and dairy groups and use the calories for nuts, beans, and seeds.

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

*2015, edit, I’m not sure why I included this chart in 2011 but I’m leaving it here for now.

 http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/search/                nutrient data base

NBD #
Food
Unit
kcal
protein
fat
Calcium
Magns.
Vit D IU
Vit A IU
01211
Whole milk no added A or D
1 cup
149
7.67 gr
7.98 gr
276 mg
24 mg
5 IU
395 IU
01107
Human milk, mature
1 cup
172
2.53 gr
10.77 gr
79 mg
7 mg
7 IU
522 IU
03850
Infant Formula, similac
100 gr x 2.43 = 1 cup
158
3.3 gr
8.62 gr
124 mg
10 mg
95 IU
479 IU

**Note that the example infant formula is fortified with vitamin D at 13.6 times the amount of human milk and 19 times the amount in cow’s milk. There are more nutrients but the blog is narrow.

1.      http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703293204576106072340020728.html  Marcel Dicke, Arnold Van Huis are professors of entomology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands.  (2-19-11, The Wall Street Journal, pC3)  The Six-Legged Meat of the Future, Insects are nutritious and easy to raise without harming the environment. They also have a nice nutty taste

2. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/publications/foodsupply/foodsupply1909-2000.pdf Gerrior, S., Bente, L., & Hiza, H. (2004). Nutrient Content of the U.S. Food
Supply, 1909-2000. (Home Economics Research Report No. 56). U.S. Department of Agriculture,
Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1525-139X.2010.00705.x/abstract
 Effect of Diabetes Mellitus on Protein–Energy Wasting and Protein Wasting in End-Stage Renal Disease, Nazanin Noori1, Joel D. Kopple1,2Article first  published online:13 APR 2010DOI: 10.1111/j.1525-139X.2010.00705.x

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121473  Semin Nephrol. 2009 Jan;29(1):39-49. Causes and prevention of protein-energy wasting in chronic kidney failure. Dukkipati R, Kopple JD. Division of Nephrology and Hypertension, Los Angeles Biomedical  Research Institute at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, CA 90509, USA.
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19121477 Semin Nephrol. 2009 Jan;29(1):75-84. Nutrition support for the chronically wasted or acutely catabolic chronic kidney disease patient.
Ikizler  TA.Department of Medicine, Division of Nephrology, Vanderbilt University School of  Medicine,Nashville, TN 37232-2372, USA.

 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16129200Am J Kidney Dis. 2005 Sep;46(3):387-405. Multinutrient oral  supplements and tube feeding in maintenance dialysis: a systematic review and meta-  analysis. StrattonRJ, Bircher G, Fouque D, Stenvinkel P, de Mutsert R, Engfer M, Elia  M.Instituteof Human Nutrition, University of Southampton, UK.
 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2891019/?tool=pubmed New Insights into the Role of Anabolic Interventions in Dialysis Patients with Protein Energy Wasting Jie Dong and T. Alp Ikizler1 Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. Curr Opin Nephrol Hypertens. 2009 November; 18(6): 469–475.doi: 10.1097/MNH.0b013e3283 31489d.
 “Economic Implications of Nutritional interventions It is also important to assess the impact of nutritional supplements not only in terms of changes in nutritional parameters, but to extrapolate these observations to potential improvements in hospitalization, mortality, and cost-effectiveness. In a recent study, Lacson et al showed that a hypothetical increase in serum albumin concentration in the order of 2 g/L in 50%  of the United States dialysis population would be associated with  projections of approximately 1400 lives saved, approximately 6000 hospitalizations  averted, and approximately $36 million in Medicare cost savings resulting  from a reduction of approximately 20,000 hospital days over one year[68]. This is a reasonable estimation since 2 g/L increase in serum albumin is the average improvement reported in most nutritional intervention studies.”

***The above paper is suggesting that giving them growth hormones  and other anabolic steroids along with protein will help them to stop catabolizing. They have had success with the strategy, but wouldn’t magnesium plus protein (ideally magnesium foods) be cheaper than hormones and protein.

Glyco-compounds – essential sugar building blocks

Glyco- refers to glycogen which is sugar in a bigger starch form. Sugars are the building blocks of starches in the way that amino acids are the building blocks of proteins. The amino acids join together in straight chains like a string of beads or like letters in a word, a sentence, or a book. The straight protein chain can then fold into intricate shapes and form many chemicals.

However the sugars can actually connect to each other at each or most of the carbons in their structure – not just in one to one connections like beads on a necklace or letters in a sentence. Instead the sugars can connect at different ways and form many shapes like a Tinker Toy or Kinex building sets or like the words that can be built off of each other’s letters in the game Scrabble or Bananagrams.

Glucose and fructose are molecules that contain 6 carbons each but they are slightly different in shape – like mirror images – and our bodies need the glucose for building materials not the fructose. Fructose is an energy source (in other words it may be fattening if eaten in excess of the physical number of calories that are used up each day). Fructose is less useable as a building block – glucose is the form that is essential for our health. A molecule of table sugar is made from one molecule of glucose and one molecule of fructose.

Fucose, (6 C), mannose, (6 C), N-acetylglucosamine, (8 C), N-acetylneuraminic acid (11 C)  and galactose are also essential types of sugars with slightly different chemical forms. Some can be converted from one to another type but eating food sources may be better insurance (in case there are enzyme defects or other trace mineral deficiencies that may be reducing one’s ability to make enzymes).

The starches can code very complicated chemicals because the branching chain of sugar molecules can link together at more then one place – usually a bond can be formed at each of the carbon molecules in the molecule of sugar. So while there are fewer types of sugars than amino acids, each one can link together in several places and can create a more complex language in their branching shapes than is possible with the one to one connections of amino acids that from proteins.

The glyco-compounds form part of the jelly-like matrix of the glycocalyx layer. Proteins and lipids might be part of a glyco-compound. White blood cells can read and understand this glyco-language on the surfaces of other cells and allergens. Antigens and antibodies may not be effective if the diet doesn’t supply enough of the more unusual essential sugars.

Glyco-compounds dissolve in water better than the proteins or lipids (fats) would on their own. Glycolipids and glycoprotiens are nature’s way to help keep them suspended in water better. The sugar containing end of the compound dissolves in the watery fluid and helps keep the lipid or protein end moving along. The protein or fat by itself might separate from the fluid and stick to vessel walls or clot together into ungainly rafts of debris, which could lead to strokes or cardiovascular disease.

A life preserver keeps us suspended above water. The air trapped in the life preserver is keeping us mixed in the air environment and above the water while the body tries to sink. The floating masses of garbage in the oceans are suspended in a similar way.

Picture from: [thegoldenspiral.org/tag/environmental-terrorism/]

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

The Glycocalyx, Our Jelly Filling

The glycocalyx is a free form matrix made up of a jelly like mixture of starches, fluid, ions and other goo. Gelatin desserts are well known examples of a free form matrix supported by the starch, pectin. The glycocalyx jelly layer may act like glue between cells or like sealant coating the interior and exterior of pipes in plumbing repair. It protects our surfaces around cells and the lining of blood vessels and organs. The stickiness allows cellular interactions to take place more easily between white blood cells and protein receptors found in cell membranes. Imagine trying to build a garden hose out of lettuce leaves and strawberry jam – that is kind of how a blood vessel is made.

A gelatin dessert is

The faster current in blood vessels can flow on while white blood cells can pause and perform tasks safely sticking in the slower goo of the glycocalyx layer. It reminds me of the muddy bottom of river beds where minnows hide and frogs lay eggs. The glycolipids and glycoproteins may be long and branching like sea-weed and algae and the fibrous mixture may be like a net, slowing down and trapping things flowing by in the blood stream or in other vessels like airways and the digestive track.

The inside of a jelly jar.

Our intestines are miles long and wide open to every passing food particle unless our cells are replaced regularly and are well coated with the glycocalyx layer. The digestive track has the shortest lived cells in the body. They are replaced every seven days on average – that is a lot of miles of cells for our white blood cells to patrol in order to identify the decaying ones and provide them a quick death by apoptosis.

Apoptosis is nature’s control over pre-cancerous, decaying cells. Well nourished white blood cells can recognize the old or infected cells, give them a little enzyme blast of death and then engulf the waste material, resulting in no inflammation or discomfort to us. It happens every day. Apoptosis requires the white blood cell to have nutrient building blocks for all the chemical steps in the process, and the white blood cell membrane has to join with the other cell membrane temporarily probably occurring within the glycocalyx layer.

The intestines also need plenty of fiber from our diets to build and rebuild the jelly layer coating its surfaces. Animal foods do not offer any fiber for building this protective layer and a diet high in meat and dairy and refined grains can leave the body more open to allergens and infection. Fiber is found in all plant foods and whole grains. A fiber pill or fortified food is unlikely to meet our need for a variety of different starches. Vine ripened produce has a higher content of some of the essential types of starches then produce that is picked early and forced to ripen with plant hormones. Frozen and canned vegetables are picked at peak ripeness and then processed rapidly. They lose some nutrients in processing but will retain value over time. Fresh produce will retain nutrient value longer when stored as recommended for the variety.

Some natural food sources of healthy types of fiber include: Carrots, apples, pears, pre-ripened peaches and nectarines, berries, cherries, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, peas, green beans, other beans, nuts, seeds, guava, turnips, mushrooms, corn, leeks, dark greens, fenugreek, aloe vera, slippery elm powder, marshmallow root, cinnamon, turmeric, horseradish and ginger. And other whole fruits, vegetables, herbs, and spices would also be sources of fiber. It is found in all plant foods.

Glucosamine is one of the super starches. It is important within bone tissue and may help those with arthritis problems. A typical supplement size is a large 1500 mg capsule once a day or three 500 mg tablets. Supplemental glucosamine is usually extracted from shells of crustaceans and can be a risk if there is an allergy to seafood. Glucosamine derived from corn has been developed and hopefully will make it into a variety of foods soon. Glucosamine derived from corn is available as a vegan source of the supplement at Deva Nutrition: [devanutrition.com].

/Disclosure: This information is provided for educational purposes within the guidelines of fair use. While I am a Registered Dietitian this information is not intended to provide individual health guidance. Please see a health professional for individual health care purposes./

85. [dvd.sagepub.com] Noble, M., Drake-Hollan, A., Hyperglycaemia and the vascular glycocalyx: the key to microalbuminaria and cardiovascular disease in diabetes mellitus? (British Journal of Diabetes & Vascular Disease 2010 10: 66) DOI: 10.1177/1474651409357035

86. [jasn.asnjournals] Singh, A., Satchell, S. C., Neal, C. R., McKenzie E A., Tooke, J E., and Mathieson P. W., Glomerular Endothelial Glycocalyx constitutes a Barrier to Protein Permeability, (J Am Soc Nephrol 18: 2885-2893, 2007.) DOI: 10.1681/ASN.2007010119) Full text

87. [nutritionj.com] Ramberg, J. E., Nelson, E. D., Sinnott, R. A., Immunomodulatory dietary polysaccharides: a systematic review of the literature, (Nutrition Journal 2010, 9:54) DOI:10.1186/1475-2891-9-54

89. [ncbi.nlm.nih.] Reitsma, S.,,et al The Endothelial glycocalyx: composition, functions, and visualization, (Pflugers Arch – Eur J Physiol (2007) 454:345-359) DOI 10.1007/s00424-007-0212-8

90. [ircres.ahajournals] Barakat, A. I., Dragging Along; the Glycocalyx and Vascular Endothelial Cell Mechanotransduction, (Circulation Research. 2008;102:747.748) 2008 American Heart Assoc.