With advance scientific technology, bird's nests benefit has been researched into and proven. Let us unpack and look into what exactly is in bird's nests from a scientific angle, to understand why bird's nest benefit is not a myth.
What is Glycoprotein
The key ingredient in bird's nests has been identified as glycoprotein. This protein was only discovered recently, and garnered a Nobel Prize in 1994. Glycoprotein consists of a carbohydrate linked to proteins.
Glycoprotein serves many functions in our body; some provide structure (e.g. collagen), while others are involved in immunity. Our body is able to produce glycoprotein, but it regresses over time due to ageing and illness.
Glycoprotein in Bird's Nests
Protein is the main component in bird's nests, which is the building block of cells, as well as other metabolic functions. This makes up about 50-55% of dry bird's nests. Protein is a macro-nutrient that is required in our body in large quantities.
Carbohydrate, which is also a macro-nutrient, is the other major component in bird's nests, with sialic acid being the main carbohydrate. Sialic acid enhances and improves neurological functions.
Out of the twenty types of amino acids that our body need, eighteen can be found in bird's nests.
Essential amino acids cannot be produced by our body, and must be obtained through our diet. All the nine essential amino acids that our body need, namely phenylalanine, valine, threonine, histidine, tryptophan, isoleucine, methionine, lysine and leucine, can be found in bird's nests. Two of these essential amino acids, lysine and tryptophan, are not present in most plant proteins. Bird's nests can provide the complete amino acids that vegetarians need, since it is suitable for vegetarians similar to eggs.
Other non-essential amino acids are also worth mentioning. Aspartic acid and proline are found in a large amount in bird's nests, two amino acids that many skincare fanatic would be familiar with, which promotes cell regeneration. Cysteine and phenylalanine have been shown to enhance memory, increase nerve impulse conduction and absorption of vitamin D from sunlight. Glucosamine plays a part in restoring cartilage and bursae, as in the case of osteoarthritis.
Essential trace elements such as calcium, phosphorus, iron, sodium, magnesium, potassium, iodine and silica are also present in bird's nests. These minerals are essential to maintain PH balance in our body for cells regeneration and growth. They regulate our blood pressure, clear mucus and phlegm, balance our body’s sugar level, enhance brain function and maintain strong bone density.
In particular, selenium, which is found in bird's nests, has anti-ageing properties.
Effects of Bird's Nests
Epidermal Growth Factor Effect
EGF promotes cell growth, and stimulate the production of collagen. As our body age, the body's natural ability for cell production and growth is slower. This is why as you grow older, it is important to eat food that are rich in EGF. Collagen can helps to keep the skin firm and youthful looking. Hair and nails will appear healthier. This is one of the reasons why bird's nests is attributed to have healing properties and anti-ageing properties.
Antioxidants are nutrients in our foods which can prevent or slow the oxidative damage to our body. These antioxidant rich foods help our body fight against cell disruptive effects that are known to lead to health problems such as cancer, heart disease, muscular degeneration, and diabetes. Antioxidants also protect the skin from reactive molecules of oxygen, which helps to prevent premature ageing of the skin.
Bone Strength Effect
Bones are vital to our body support system, protecting various important organs in the body. Bird's nests can minimise the occurrence of osteoarthritis caused by deterioration of bone joints, by contributing to the regeneration of our bone cartilage. Bird's nests is hence an effective way to increase bone mass and slow skin aging, particularly helpful for post-menopausal women.
Bird's nests research is still advancing, and more studies can be done to prove the effects of bird's nests. There is a reason why bird's nests has long been enjoyed by royalty back in ancient China, and why it is such a highly prized food.