The simple answer is that doctors don’t seem to have a clue about what glycocalyx is, let alone what its purpose is, despite the fact that it exists throughout the body on the outside of almost all the cells we have. As I discovered the important role of glycocalyx in our blood vessels during my studies, I began to ask doctors I met if they knew what glycocalyx is. The first six, one of whom was a cardiologist, had no idea even though all blood vessels internally have a glycocalyx. I found this strange and stopped asking doctors I encountered.

Since the literature I studied for about four years on PubMed pointed in a clear direction, I thought it was time to start writing about glycocalyx and its crucial role for our health. The journal Medicinsk Access was keen to publish my articles. After the fourth article was published, MA received an anonymous question about who this Lasse Blomdahl is and what academic merits he has, with the following remark: ’My trust in the journal is now bottomed out due to a number of writers and that the journal is dependent on advertising revenue from pharmaceutical companies for its existence. Please comment or give your response to this. Good messages travel fast…’

My fifth article in Medicinsk Acess ’Can sick glycocalyx cause heart/vessel problems?’ had already been printed and could not be stopped, but the sixth ’Statins, Big Pharma’s bestseller, are based on incomplete research’ was not published. The editor-in-chief informed me that ’I must wait with the publication of your articles for the moment.’

Shortly thereafter, I read the newly released book ’The Clot Thickens’ by Dr. Malcolm Kendrick, a general practitioner from England, whose previous books ’The Statin Nation’ and ’The Cholesterol Con’ had attracted great attention and which I had also read. In ’The Clot Thickens’, Dr. Kendrick mentions that he noticed glycocalyx and asked his colleagues what they knew about glycocalyx, without receiving any response from the first ten he asked, which is why he stopped asking. Look there, I thought, it’s not just the six doctors I asked in Sweden, who don’t know what glycocalyx is – the ignorance seems to be the same in England.

But why is there such ignorance about something so common in our body and actually so important for our health? When we eat and drink, the food and beverage come into contact with glycocalyx, what we colloquially call the mucous membrane, starting in the mouth and all the way through the esophagus and stomach. When the food reaches the intestines, it also encounters glycocalyx, which there is called microvilli or intestinal villi. If this villi is not healthy, i.e., low and sparse instead of high and dense, as it should be when healthy, then unnecessarily much will be released through the intestinal wall and enter the bloodstream where there is also glycocalyx.

As long as this endothelial glycocalyx is healthy, it acts as a protection against unwanted substances and, together with its parent endothelial cells, functions as a supplier of nitric oxide (NO) to the muscle layer (tunica media) of the blood vessels, so that it maintains its elasticity and does not stiffen. If it does stiffen, there will be problems for the red blood cells to pass through the thin arteries called arterioles. The result is high blood pressure, angina, atrial fibrillation, heart failure, etc., and the cells located distally to the arterioles will suffer from a lack of oxygen. Do I need to say what this means? Almost all healthy cells must receive a supply of oxygen to produce enough energy so that our body can function optimally!

The medical science knows this. It should also know how important a healthy glycocalyx is – not just in the intestines but also in the blood vessels. Regarding glycocalyx in the intestines, there is a great deal of interest from researchers worldwide. In Gothenburg, there is a group of about 50 researchers, whose leader in Swedish Radio explicitly stated that the goal of their intestinal research is to develop a drug to prevent the breakdown of intestinal villi or microvilli in the intestines, i.e., glycocalyx. Not so strange since there is no blockbuster drug for the intestines in the same way as there is for blood circulation. They don’t use the word glycocalyx but instead talk about intestinal diseases in general. This group, therefore, receives a lot of money from the pharmaceutical and food industries and also from the Swedish state.

Since it’s beyond all doubt that it’s what we eat and drink that causes the breakdown of glycocalyx in both the intestines and blood vessels, it would be better for us to focus our resources on avoiding things in our diet that cause the slow breakdown of glycocalyx, i.e., sugar, flour, and starch. These carbohydrates are broken down from the mouth to the rectum into monosaccharides (single molecules of sugars), and the monosaccharides that don’t make it through the intestinal wall and into the bloodstream end up in the colon, where there are bacteria that ferment using the monosaccharides and damage the intestinal villi (glycocalyx) – what should protect against unwanted substances from the colon entering the bloodstream.

In the medical literature (PubMed), several different theories are presented about what might damage glycocalyx in our blood vessels. The prevailing opinion seems to be that hyperglycemia is a significant cause since this explanation recurs in so many articles. My own interpretation of this is that it is prolonged and low-grade hyperglycemia over a long period, before the blood sugar level reaches the point where a diagnosis of diabetes or prediabetes is triggered, that leads to the breakdown of endothelial glycocalyx.

In animal experiments aimed at determining whether it is too little glucose in the blood that causes glycocalyx breakdown, it was found that the result was the opposite, i.e., too much glucose breaks down glycocalyx, which then loses its homeostasis. When homeostasis is lost, it doesn’t function, to put it simply. In this case, glycocalyx does not function as it does when it is healthy. Healthy glycocalyx is negatively charged, as are the red blood cells, which is why they repel each other, meaning that red blood cells do not come into contact with the membranes of the endothelial cells. Between them, there is a plasma layer.

When glycocalyx, due to too much glucose in the blood, loses its homeostasis and negative charge, the space filled with plasma between the glycocalyx and the red blood cells decreases, eventually allowing the red blood cells to come into contact with the endothelium and find their way into the openings between individual endothelial cells. What happens there seems very exciting, but I will wait to talk about that until a later occasion.

Understandably, the pharmaceutical and food industries are not interested in what damages glycocalyx in our blood vessels, as this would impact their sales of blockbuster drugs such as statins (which, before the so-called COVID-19 vaccines, were the world’s most profitable drugs), all blood pressure-lowering medications, and more. For the food industry, it would be a disaster to be forced to drastically reduce the use of sugar, flour, and starch in their processed foods, which dominate the shelves, coolers, and freezers in grocery stores. Therefore, the state, through the Public Health Agency and the regions, must undertake the task of getting us to eat and drink correctly to restore our damaged intestinal villi (glycocalyx) and our damaged endothelial glycocalyx, thereby breaking the very negative development of metabolic diseases.

In 1976, the National Food Agency issued dietary recommendations, dominated by high carbohydrate intake (sugar, flour, and starch). This means that all dietitians in healthcare and schools have since then given, and continue to give, what we now know are incorrect dietary advice and recommend things that slowly destroy our intestinal villi (glycocalyx) and our endothelial glycocalyx. This lays the foundation for the steadily increasing incidence of metabolic diseases such as heart and vascular diseases, angina, atrial fibrillation, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, kidney diseases, stiffening bladder, vision and hearing problems, cognitive problems through damaged blood-brain barrier, and more.

The members of the Swedish Parliament must each and together ensure that our dietary recommendations are changed so that our intake of carbohydrates, i.e., sugar, flour, and starch, is drastically reduced – all to prevent public health from continuing to deteriorate at the rate it has done since carbohydrate-dominated dietary recommendations were introduced in 1976.

Glycocalyx – why is its importance for our health not discussed?


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