Monday - Jul 22, 2019

NAG: one of the good sugars

by Ben Fuchs

Sugar is pretty interesting stuff. It’s also misunderstood. For one thing, we all love how “sugar” tastes, but we don’t necessarily love its effects. That presents a problem. Despite it’s well-documented health hazards, just because we love the stuff, no matter how much we try to abstain, when it comes right down to it, turning down that apple pie a la mode or peach gelato, as much as we’d like to, can be pretty difficult and at times impossible. That’s because our brainy cells which are fueled by the sweet and sticky substance, are hardwired to love sugar! On the other hand, the downside of sugar ingestion includes weight gain, diabetes, eye disease, hypertension, jittery-ness and anxiety.
Well, those we would rather do without. Thus the love-hate relationship we have with what is generally referred to as “sugar”.

However, unbeknownst to many, there’s a whole other side to the subject of sugar! The chemical that most of us know as “sugar” and the substance that is so problematic is actually a special type of sugar called “glucose”. As it turns out, glucose is just one version of eight different sugars that are collectively, if not entirely accurately, referred to as “essential”. These seven other essential sugars aren’t very tasty or sweet but, importantly, they provide lots of health benefits.

One of these essential sugars is called N-acetyl glucosamine (NAG) from which the arthritis-fighting nutritional supplement glucosamine can be derived. NAG can be especially helpful for skin health. The body can use it as a raw material for the production of the skin’s natural moisturizer: hyaluronic acid. It can help prevent and reduce fine line and crow’s feet formation by activating collagen making cells. It may even be used topically to help lighten dark spots and improve other visible signs of skin aging, including thinning and wrinkled skin. Its digestive system supporting properties can help improve immune system health and reduce the entrance of skin destroying inflammatory factors through the small intestine. In fact, under conditions of digestive distress, especially leaky gut syndrome, it’s likely the body will divert NAG away from the skin to help repair the gut lining. That means less NAG available for keeping skin youthful, moisturized and robust. If you’re interested in using N-acetyl glucosamine, it’s available in supplement form; try a daily dose of 500 or so mg. Good food sources of NAG include aloe, shitake mushrooms and cartilage.

If you want to use NAG topically, anti-aging skin health benefits can be derived by applying it directly onto the skin. Try making your own skin lightening and tightening toner by putting the contents of one or two 500mg capsules of NAG in a cup or two of distilled water or aloe vera gel. Pour a little on cotton pad and rub it gently on your face 4 or 5 times a week.