The Breakdown of Carbohydrates in the Body

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Published: 16th June 2010
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Have you ever had a meal that had a lot of carbohydrates and then found yourself feeling very sleepy afterwards? Do you wonder why that is? This is typically due to the fluctuations of blood sugar levels, which in turn can cause drowsiness. But what do carbohydrates have to do with sugar? When carbohydrates start to break down, they turn into cellulose or starch. Starches then continue to break down into a form of sugar called monosaccharides, or into another type of sugar called disaccharides. These sugars are used for energy in the body, although they need to go through many changes and processes in order for them to be converted into usable energy. Carbohydrates are first starches and then sugars; if your body doesn't use these things for energy through physical activity it stores glucose.

The sugars we call monosaccharides include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Glucose is produced by the body, galactose is something found in milk and items like yogurt, and fructose is found in fruit and even honey.

Disaccharides include sucrose, maltose, and lactose. Lactose is the combination of glucose and galactose which are found in dairy products, sucrose is what we would call table sugar, and maltose is what happens when we digest starch and when glucose is combined.

So how does this all affect the body? The body stores excess sugar or starches at glycogen. Glycogen usually has no benefit except for someone running marathons or doing extreme bursts of physical activity. Runners load up on carbs and starches before their big races and before practice so that they can have the energy needed for those times. But this extra glycogen can become stored fat, and if not used up it can become extreme to the point even of obesity. Unfortunately many in the U.S. today can be classified as being overweight, obese, and even morbidly obese. Many even refer to this as an epidemic.

So too many carbohydrates can mean becoming overweight. And what happens when you're overweight? For those who have extreme weight problems, the organs cannot function against this pressure, the body needs to work harder to move around this weight, and many other health problems arise.

So there are many problems faced when you take in too many carbohydrates. A good way to limit the consumption of these products is to eat more natural foods such as fruits and vegetables and lean cuts of meat. Products that are high in carbohydrates such as bread, cereal, rice, pasta, and things like these should be limited.

And of course more exercise is also key. Carbohydrates produce potential energy in the body and this means being active to work that off. If you're someone that's very sedentary, now is the time to consider becoming more active.

Having good health will mean eating responsibly, getting good nutrition and proper exercise, and understanding how foods we eat actually affect the body once they're consumed. All of these things can mean finally being healthy physically.

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