Polysaccharides and hydrocolloids

Seaweed and Macro algae are an interesting source for a myriad of different bioactive polysaccharides, ranging from industrial applications to novel food applications. They possess many different interesting and often exotic polysaccharides that are currently explored for their functional properties in food and biomedicine.

However, a far larger application would be the use of carbohydrates from cultivated seaweeds for alternative fuel sources. It is the exploitation of nature's energy cycle, photosynthesis and the resulting plant biomass that can accelerate this application. Society now has to make a transition from a hydrocarbon (fossil fuel) to a carbohydrate economy, with the accrued benefits of carbon neutral biofuel, plastics and medicine.

Macro algae are efficient solar energy converters, and can create large amounts of biomass in a short-term, however, marine biomass is often an overlooked source, and potentially represents a significant source of al kinds of carbohydrates as a renewable energy source.

Polysaccharides and hydrocolloids.

Most hydrocolloids can be listed as fiber and increased fiber consumption has been associated with lowering total serum cholesterol and LDL cholesterol, modifying the glycolic and insulinemic response and protecting the large intestine from disease. Consumption of these hydrocolloids has been found to, increase stool weight, alter gut transit time, alter activity of the colonic micro flora, influence appetite, absorb toxins and modify the absorption of fats, sugars, minerals and bile acids. Polysaccharides, several 'seaweed' pigments including chlorophyll, and all the antioxidant vitamins and minerals, help cleanse the digestive tract, blood, lymph, and kidneys, and neutralize cholesterol.

The brown seaweed's such as kelp, rockweed contain alginic acid which can binds with the toxins in the intestines rendering them indigestible and carries them out of the system. Seaweed and micro-algae contains compounds which bind with and remove toxins from the tissues of both animals and humans. Many people using seaweed for this purpose already some time. To compensate for using polluted food, compensate for air, water, land and products. The removal of toxins from there bodies becoming more and more important in Time.

Sea Plants are more potent than any land plant because it contains a great number of organic compounds known as phyto (plant) chemicals. Many of these organic compounds are necessary, but are missing in our food supply. In any known profit-driven economy, health considerations are hardly a priority; effective production of cheap foods with a long shelf-life is more the trend.

There are demographic studies which show that people who regularly incorporate edible seaweed's into their diets have fewer problems associated with mineral depletion and live longer than other peoples. (Japan).

Seaweed are mainly used in food products for human consumption because of there heath protective value and therefore including in the production of pet food, mainly for dogs and cat, the production of fodder, for fur-producing mammals, birds and chickens and fish in aquaculture. A wide application and as such because it is one of the few universal food/feeds supplement available.

The ancient people where well aware of the health protective properties of seaweed (sea vegetables) and told there kids that no meal would be complete without some product of the sea being present.

In addition to the more general effects of use of small amounts of seaweed their are the species related more specific properties.

A study of faecal flora in the Japanese diet versus the Western diet showed significant differences in the numbers of beneficial aerobic (oxygen-loving) organisms in faecal flora. This is believed to be due to the antibiotic activity of seaweed that destroys harmful anaerobic bacteria.

Health benefits have been reported and by now proven for many different polysaccharides as such. There have been over 500+ international scientific studies in this respect and looking very promising. Please have a look at: National library of Medicine(Entrez PubMed)- Type In Search Box: "Seaweed", kelp, nori, or fucoidan etc, or go to http://www.ncbi.nlm.ib.gov/entrez/query.fcgi

A hidden epidemic gradually emerged in the post World War II years, where non-communicable endemic illnesses began to flourish, such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Although medical drugs are used large scale to manage this development, more and more people are becoming aware that the post-war modern lifestyle (e.g. poor choice of foods, less physical activity) may be the primary cause of such so-called lifestyle-related diseases. The medicine did not do much god as result of unintended or unwanted side effects.

For example Thromboembolic disorders, such as venous thromboembolism and arterial thrombosis, are considered to be among the main reasons for cardiovascular diseases. The situation leads to increased utilization of anticoagulant and antithrombotic agents in medical practice. Heparin and its derivatives are usually recommended as support therapy, but side effects of these medicines, like haemorrhage and heparin-induced thrombocytopenia, force the search for anticoagulants of another nature. Drugs taken for prolonged period in life can be very risky and effect health. Many of the natural available extracts and potions do not have these toxicity.

The dietary fibres as present in different seaweed and algae proved to be able to prevent and effective against a number of it, however being very diverse in composition and chemical structure as well as in their physicochemical properties.

An polysaccharide extracted from Irish moss is effective in use and prevention of virus infection of has antiviral properties. Alginic acid as present in Kelp the ability to remove toxins from bones and tissue because the body does not digest alginic acid the bound and absorbed toxins will leave the body with it.

Because the great number of slightly different structural type polysaccharides you have to know which one to use for certain illness or complains and again these are not only species restricted but also you have to take into account the harvesting season, locality and preparation or extraction technique . The main structural features of  sulphated polysaccharides, which should be taken into account regarding properties, include the monosaccharide composition, the degree and pattern of sulphating, molecular weight, and types of glycoside bonds.

Further investigations on the hydrolyses of some brown algae showed complex mixtures of monosaccharide's. The components of galactose, glucose, mannose, fructose, xylose, fructose and arabinose were found in the total sugars in the hydro lysates. The glucose content was 65 %, 30 % and 20 % of the total sugars in an autumn sample of 50 individual plants of Saccharina, Fucus (serratus and spiralis) and Ascophyllum, respectively (Jensen 1956).

These seaweed species and resulting products because of the use as natural drug must be grown, harvested and treated under fixed and prior established (controlled) conditions. Comparing Fucoidans from brown algae shows that they possess a significantly more complicated structure than fucans from invertebrates (animals) due to the presence of numerous branches, non-fucose monosaccharide constituents, and acetates. They can be obtained in major amounts and at low costs, have low toxicity and in some cases, lack anticoagulant effects.

First attention to the bio-organic and rare properties of seaweed and algae was drawn and directed at their ability to be fermented by the colonic flora, and their biological effects on animal and human cells. Polysaccharides are basically polymers of simple sugars (monosaccharide's) linked together by glycosidic bonds, and they have numerous commercial applications in products such as stabilisers, thickeners, emulsifiers, food, feed, beverages etc. (McHugh 1987; Tseng 2001; Bixler and Porse, 2010).

The total polysaccharide concentrations in the seaweed species of interest range from 4-76 % of the dry weight. The highest contents are found in species such as Ascophyllum, Porphyra and Palmaria, however, green seaweed species such as Ulva also have a high content, up to 65 % of dry weight.

The cell wall and storage polysaccharides are however species-specific: Green algae contain sulphuric acid polysaccharides, sulphated galactans and xylans, brown algae alginic acid, fucoidan (sulphated fucose), laminarin (-1, 3 glucan) and sargassan and red algae agars, carrageenans, xylans, floridean starch (amylopectin like glucan), water-soluble sulphated galactan , as well as porphyran.

A number of studies revealed certain structure-activity relationships for these macromolecules The pattern of O-sulpfation together with the structure of the backbone and branches, but not only total negative charge of sulphate's, has a substantial impact on the activity of the biopolymers

 

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