The Anatomy of Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are long chains of sugar molecules connected together. There are basically two kinds of Carbohydrates: Simple and Complex.

Simple Carbohydrates are made up of only 1 or 2 sugar molecules. Complex carbohydrates are made up of many sugar molecules linked together.

Simple Carbohydrates and Complex Carbohydrates

Examples of foods that are high in carbohydrates are:

  • Rice, grains, cereals, and pasta
  • Breads, tortillas, crackers, bagels and rolls
  • Dried beans, split peas and lentils
  • Vegetables, like potatoes, corn, peas and winter squash
  • Fruit
  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Sugars, like table sugar and honey
  • Foods and drinks made with sugar, like regular soft drinks and desserts

Starch found in Potatoes is a complex carbohydrate whereas table sugar is one of the most simple.

Whether the carbohydrate is complex or simple it can’t be used by the body until it is broken down into a basic sugar molecule.

 

Stages of Digestion of a Carbohydrate

Stages of Carbohydrate Digestion

 

Stages of Digestion – How the Body Uses Carbohydrates

1. In the stomach complex carbohydrates are broken down into more simple or basic forms by the stomach acid. Your stomach then passes its contents into the intestines.

2. In the intestines with the help of intestinal bacteria and other digestive enzymes the carbohydrates are broken down into even simpler forms.

3. This digestion in the intestines continues until the carbohydrates are broken down into basic sugar molecules.

4. These sugars pass through the intestinal walls into the blood stream. That is why a person’s blood sugar levels go up after eating carbohydrates.

5. The sugar now in your blood travels through the body.

6. Your body recognizes this increase of blood sugar and produces insulin, which is used to transport the sugar from the bloodstream into the cells of the body where it is used for food and energy.


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