What are Glyconutrients?

Vanessa Harvey

The prefix "glyco" can refer to sugar in general or to any specific type of sugar or sugar alcohol. A nutrient is a substance that nourishes the body. Glyconutrients, therefore, can be loosely defined as nourishing sugars or nutritious sugars. They are sometimes called the eight essential dietary sugars by manufacturers and distributors of supplements.

Pure maple syrup is a type of glyconutrient.
Pure maple syrup is a type of glyconutrient.

Glyconutrients assist the body in warding off a host of diseases and disorders, including various types of cancer. Explanations of how these supplements work often include comparing the systems of the body to a flower or vegetable garden. Every plant requires a correct environment of sufficient water, sunlight, air, garden-friendly insects and animals to control pests as well as dirt of the right consistency and containing all of the nutrients it needs in order to grow. The plants, in theory, would have all they need to be healthy enough to flourish and produce flowers and crops. According to proponents of these supplements, the eight essential or dietary sugars provide an ideal environment within the body, allowing it to flourish in health; the basic concept is to create a perfect environment for health instead of adding things to an imperfect environment that does not promote health.

Glyconutrients cannot regulate blood glucose levels.
Glyconutrients cannot regulate blood glucose levels.

The health claims associated with glyconutrients have come under sharp criticism by many dietitians, medical doctors and other healthcare providers. Opponents of the use of glyconutrients maintain that there are no studies that reveal efficacy of supplements to prevent, treat or cure any sickness, disease or type of cancer. They also point out that the concept that there are eight essential sugars that must be present in sufficient quantities in the body for good health lacks scientific evidence. The fact that the disease diabetes does not respond to treatment with glyconutrients is probably one of the most significant considerations that must be kept in mind when one is evaluating the claims. Nutritionists, dietitians and medical doctors say that blood sugar glucose is absolutely essential for life, but glyconutrients cannot in any way regulate blood glucose levels.

A list of nourishing sugars could include: honey, pure evaporated cane juice, pure maple syrup and even the various natural sugars found in fruits and vegetables. These truly all-natural foods that are rich in nutrients that nourish the body, however, are not considered glyconutrients. People who choose to take glyconutrients should first consult with their physician if they suffer from any health problems, are pregnant or are lactating.

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