What is a Carbohydrate and What do they do?
Carbohydrates are a source of calories (4 calories per gram). As with all foods, if you eat more carbs than you need, the extra will be stored as fat.
Carbohydrates, also known as Carbs, are brain food. They have been bastardized and misunderstood for some time but many people living a healthy lifestyle understand that without carbohydrates the completion of tasks becomes very difficult. Often withholding nutritional power from the brain brings some people to a place called lala land, as well as sugar highs and lows.
The digestion of carbohydrates starts in the mouth where an enzyme called salivary amylase starts the breakdown. The rest of the digestion process occurs mainly in the small intestine where enzymes continue to break down large carbohydrate molecules into glucose.
- First priority is the immediate energy needs of cells: Glucose
– Glucose is the form of sugar normally found in the blood stream and used by the body for energy. Small and simple molecules.
- After the cells are happy and you can think and talk, the body stores excess glucose and glycogen in muscle tissues and liver. Glucose can be removed from these storage sites if blood glucose levels drop too low.
– Glycogen is a large and complex molecule and is the concentrated form of glucose in man and animals. It is the primary source of our energy. Muscle glycogen is used directly as energy. Liver glycogen may be converted to glucose before it is carried by the blood to the tissues at the specific sites it is needed .
- Lastly and most inconveniently, after energy needs are met and the glycogen stores are filled, all remaining glucose is converted into fatty acids and stored as fat tissue. Fat tissue have unlimited storage capabilities which means too many carbs is the same thing as eating too much fat.
Lesser known forms of Carbohydrates:
– Cellulose is a type of fiber and made up of many glucose molecules. It is the supportive framework of plants. Cellulose cannot be digested by humans and provides bulk to the stool.
– Hemicellulose Includes pectin and agar-agar. The body does not digest them. However they do absorb water, form a gel and increase the bulk of the stool, which gives a laxative effect. Pectin is found in ripe fruit and agar-agar comes from seaweed.