What is glycobiology?

what is glycobiology?

Who would ever imagine that sugar would become the next frontier in biological science? In fact, this area of study has grown so fast that it has been bestowed with the official title, “Glycobiology”.

“Glyco” means sugar and, of course, “biology” is the study of life. So this relatively new science deals with the study of sugars in life. Thus is was that a class of sugars became “essential sugars”.

In reality, “glycology” has been alive and well and growing rapidly for the last 38 years or so. It is often referred to as glycomics.

The big discovery that gave impetus to this emerging science was in how certain cells of the immune system communicate and the role that certain essential sugars play in cell structure and function.

Essential sugars are nutraceuticals, that is, a nutritional substance that seems to have health bestowing properties. Ongoing research in numerous university glycobiology research facilities could lead one to believe that complex polysaccharides and oligosaccharides will have a huge role in the future of natural health.

The whole foundation of natural health is that the body can build, defend, repair, regenerate, regulate, reproduce and heal itself if it is given the right tools; meaning the right nutrition.

If so, why does it seem to have such a problem in doing all those things? One reason may be that we are immersed in environmental toxins, under constant stress, take too many medications, and consume food deficient in many essential nutrients. The body is not getting “the right tools” to do the job.

Essential Sugars

Let’s be very clear that we are not talking about the simple, refined sugar that we put in our coffee and tea or sprinkle on our cereal. We are talking about complex sugars known as polysaccharides and oligosaccharides.

To further close in on the subject, we know there are over 200 sugars occurring naturally in nature but we are concerned with eight or nine specific bio-active sugars.

The term “essential sugars” could be up for debate since the body can make some of the sugars from other carbohydrate building blocks, at least for a short period of time; more on that to follow.

By the way, carbohydrates are another name for sugars and the term may be used interchangeably herein as required by the content.

The essential sugars are a class of major nutrients that have been among the missing, AWOL, at least until 14 years ago.

Carbohydrates and especially compounds from the Aloe Vera plant had been under study at least since 1952 when a study was published detailing how fresh aloe gel healed radiation burns on rabbits but aged gel didn’t.

By 1970 glycobiology was becoming a recognized science and 500 papers on the subject had been published.

By 1980 that number had grown to 1500 and by 1990, had hit 4000. That same year Oxford University in England published their Journal of Glycobiology.