We all know that sugar is bad for you. Old news, right? But what if there were some sugars that were actually healing in nature?
Turns out, such a thing exists. Known collectively as glyconutrients, these health-enhancing, therapeutic sugars are rarely discussed, but have incredible healing powers for a wide variety of conditions.
Glyconutrients are an essential component of a special coating that surrounds each and every cell in your body. They serve as the building blocks for the creation of glycoproteins and glycolipids—together, these molecules are called glycoconjugates.
Glycoconjugates cover the surface of your cells with a sugary coating. This coating plays a crucial role in your body—it ensures that your cells are interacting and communicating properly with each other. Since all body functions start at the cellular level, and cell miscommunication is a leading cause of countless conditions and diseases (including autoimmune disease and cancer), it’s obvious that this coating is so critical for good health.
And while all glyconutrients are important, there is one in particular that works across many body systems to ensure optimum health: D-mannose.
What Is D-Mannose?
D-mannose is a natural sugar that is chemically related to glucose.
Mannose has antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal properties. It plays a key role in the formation of cytokines—the chemicals that make you feel achy when you’re sick. Cytokines, in turn, stimulate the immune system to fight the parasitic invader.
Mannose can be found in berries, including blueberries, cranberries, currants and gooseberries. It’s also present in green beans, soybeans, eggplant, cabbage, turnips, kelp and Aloe vera.
Conditions Supported by D-Mannose
- Urinary tract infections
- Bladder health
- Digestive health
How D-Mannose Works
This simple sugar passes directly into the bloodstream and is absorbed more slowly than other sugars. As blood circulates through the kidneys, D-mannose molecules mix with urine and continue on to the bladder and urethra. All along the way, the D-mannose molecules support the urinary system’s delicate ecological balance.
Additionally, D-mannose blocks the lectins in beans, peas, lentils and other legumesand can prevent them from breaching your intestinal wall.
What Does the Research Say?
Urinary Tract Infections
One study of 308 women with recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs), researchers divided participants into three groups:1
- 2 grams of D-mannose daily for six months
- 50 mg of nitrofurantoin daily (drug used to treat UTIs) daily
- No treatment
After six months, researchers found that 14.6 percent of women in the D-mannose group had recurrent UTI, as compared to 20.4 percent in the nitrofurantoin group and 60.8 percent in the third group. Additionally, women in the D-mannose group had a significantly lower risk of side effects than the women in the pharmaceutical group.
Researchers concluded, “ D-mannose had significantly reduced the risk of recurrent UTI, which was no different than in nitrofurantoin group. More studies will be needed to validate the results of this study, but initial findings show that D-mannose may be useful for UTI prevention.”
One study looked at the presence of D-mannose as it related to the ability for the bacteria Escherichica coli (E.coli) to adhere to human urinary tract cells. Researchers found that as D-mannose levels decreased, E. coli ability to adhere to the cells increased.2
A similar study looked at the use of D-mannose in rats with E. coli-related excessive urine production. Researchers found that E. coli levels were significantly lower in those rats treated with D-mannose.3
A study published in January 2014 looked at the role of glyconutrients in patients with gastric cancer and duodenal ulcers.4 Researchers found that people who had gastric cancer also had decreased levels of high-mannose-type glycans. Similar findings also presented in people with duodenal ulcers.
Additionally, there is evidence from animal and cell studies that D-mannose can protect against lectins. Lectins are types of proteins commonly found in grains, beans and seeds, as well as some fruits, vegetables and seafood. They are present in about 30 percent of the American diet and are not degraded by stomach acid or proteolytic enzymes, making them virtually resistant to digestion. Microbes carry lectins and use them for attachment to the host cells.
In vivo and in vitro studies show that D-mannose acts as a decoy molecule and can bind to certain allergenic compounds/irritants that would otherwise bind to mannose sugars on cells, thus keeping them from potentially causing lectin-related reactions, such as inflammation, irritable bowel syndrome, weight gain and even possibly colon cancer.5-7
In addition to binding and blocking lectins, D-mannose can also help prevent lectins from breaching your intestinal wall.
How to Use D-Mannose
While you do receive some D-mannose in certain foods, you’d have to eat an unrealistic amount to reap any true health benefits. Therefore, for truly therapeutic levels, you need to take a D-mannose supplement. Dosage recommendations vary depending on your ultimate goal.
According to the research, taking 1,500 mg daily appears to be a beneficial dose for UTIs and bladder health in general. For digestive health, take up to 100 mg once or twice per day.
- Kranjcec B, et al. World J Urol. 2014 Feb;32(1):79-84.
- Schaeffer AJ, et al. Infect Immun. 1980 Nov;30(2):531-7.
- Michaels EK, et al. Urol Res. 1983;11(2):97-102.
- Ozcn S, et al. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2014 Jan 20. [Epub ahead of print.]
- Klein T, et al. J Med Chem. 2010 Dec 23:53(24):8627-41.
- Ofek I and Beachey EH. Infect Immun. 1978 Oct;22(1):247-54.
- Bouckaert J, et al. Mol Microbiol. 2005 Jan;55(2): 441-55.