Carbohydrates

What are carbohydrates?

Carbohydrates, also known as saccharides or carbs, are sugars or starches. They are a major food source and a key form of energy for most organisms.

They consist of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms.

Two basic compounds make up carbohydrates:

Aldehydes: These are double-bonded carbon and oxygen atoms, plus a hydrogen atom.

Ketones: These are double-bonded carbon and oxygen atoms, plus two additional carbon atoms.

Carbs can combine together to form polymers, or chains.

These polymers can function as:

  • long-term food storage molecules
  • protective membranes for organisms and cells
  • the main structural support for plants

Most organic matter on earth is made up of carbohydrates. They are involved in many aspects of life.

About Carbohydrates

Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. They are the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses this sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs. It stores any extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it is needed.

Carbohydrates are called simple or complex, depending on their chemical structure. Simple carbohydrates include sugars found naturally in foods such as fruits, vegetables, milk, and milk products. They also include sugars added during food processing and refining. Complex carbohydrates include whole grain breads and cereals, starchy vegetables and legumes. Many of the complex carbohydrates are good sources of fiber.

Why do you need to eat carbohydrates?

Carbs are fuel for your body because they contain glucose, which is your body’s number one source of energy,” she says. “Protein and fat work, too, but carbs are definitely number one.” Whole grains contains lots of B vitamins, which help your body make energy from food and help you make red blood cells, says

Good Carbs:
  • Vegetables: All of them. …
  • Whole fruits: Apples, bananas, strawberries, etc.
  • Legumes: Lentils, kidney beans, peas, etc.
  • Nuts: Almonds, walnuts, hazelnuts, macadamia nuts, peanuts, etc.
  • Seeds: Chia seeds, pumpkin seeds.
  • Whole grains: Choose grains that are truly whole, as in pure oats, quinoa, brown rice, etc.

Benifits of using Carbohydrates

Energy

Carbohydrates are your body’s main source of fuel. When you take in food, your body breaks down its sugars and starches and absorbs them into your bloodstream. At this point, they become glucose, or blood sugar. Your body needs glucose to have the energy to do everything from breathing to weight training. In addition, your brain needs glucose to function properly. If you don’t take in enough carbohydrates, you can become weak, lethargic and unable to focus on even simple tasks.

Weight Control

Carbs are often blamed for weight gain, but the truth is that they are crucial for healthy weight control. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends getting 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories that you consume each day. The only sources of fiber are in carbohydrates, so it’s nearly impossible to get enough dietary fiber on a low-carb diet. Fiber-rich foods add bulk to your diet, making you feel full more quickly and satisfying your appetite for longer. High-fiber foods are generally low in calories as well, so getting enough fiber can help you lose weight.

Heart Health

Dietary fiber prevents cholesterol from accumulating in your arteries and creating dangerous blockages that can lead to a heart attack or stroke. Eating whole-grain foods, such as fresh fruit, vegetables, whole wheat, oats, bran and quinoa, gives you valuable fiber that can protect your heart and keep you feeling your best. Avoid simple carbohydrates, such as cakes, cookies, products made with white flour and processed foods, which are generally low in fiber and often high in fat and added sugar.

Improved Digestion

Getting enough fiber-rich carbohydrates can help prevent digestive problems, such as constipation and indigestion. Insoluble fiber, the type of fiber that doesn’t break down during digestion, is also known as roughage. It pushes other food along your digestive tract, speeding up the digestive process. It also adds bulk to your stool, making it easier to pass bowel movements. Without a sufficient intake of carbohydrates, you may not get enough fiber to keep your digestive system regular.

Symptoms and manifestations of carbohydrate deficiency

The symptoms include hypoglycemia, confusion, tremor, feverishness, giddiness, fatigue, distress, delirium, muscles atrophy, loss of muscle tissue and reduces stamina.

Acidosis: In carbohydrate starvation, there is shift from glycolysis (breakdown of glucose) to lipolysis (breakdown of lipids) and ketogenesis for energy needs. The resultant production of ketoacids increases acidity in the blood and other body tissues. These changes in the pH of arterial blood  outside 7.35 pH – 7.45 pH result in irreversible cell damage.

Ketosis: During prolonged carbohydrate fasting or starvation, acetyl-CoA in the liver is used to produce ketone bodies formed by the breakdown of fatty acids and by the deamination of amino acids, leading to a state of ketosis.

Hypoglycemia: The non availability of glucose due to severe lack of carbohydrate causes drop in the blood sugar levels. Hypoglycemia occurs when blood glucose, levels drop under 70 mg/dL with typical symptoms like giddiness, fatigue, distress and delirium.

Fatigue and decreased energy levels: The immediate non availability of glucose in the blood for energy production, result in dip in the energy levels and fatigue.

Muscle wasting: As the fat reserves and amino acids are getting used up for energy production, there will be general loss of muscle mass and impairment of growth.

Unhealthy weight loss: The loss of fat and muscle mass leads to emaciation and weight loss.

Dehydration and reduced body secretions: As there is loss of fluids from the body due to ketosis, a state of chronic dehydration is reached. This results in reduction in mucus secretion, dry eyes and compromised mucus production in tear glands, salivary glands, sinuses, airways, and gastrointestinal tract.

Loss of sodium: Excess of ketone in the blood leads to fluid loss and excretion of sodium ions(Na+) from the body. This may lead to muscle cramps, exhaustion and lassitude.

Weakened immune system: With increased fluid loss and degradation, vitamin C  loss from the body is increased. Adding to this, the chronically dehydrated condition leads to weakened immune system and susceptibility to infections.

Constipation: Dietary fiber is an essential component of carbohydrate food, which is known to prevent recto-colon cancer and help digestion. The absence of dietary fiber can cause constipation.

Mood swing: Dietary carbohydrate exclusion causes the brain to stop regulating serotonin hormone. Low serotonin supply causes mood swing and depression.

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