Carbohydrates: The Quintessential Energy Source
Food & Beverage Business Review|February - March 2019
Carbohydrates: The Quintessential Energy Source

Carbohydrates, proteins and fats are macronutrients and are needed in large amounts in our body. Vitamins and minerals form the micronutrients and are required in small amounts by our body. All of these are necessary for physiological and biochemical processes of the human body and help assimilate and utilize food for carrying out activities and maintaining health.

Dr. Sadhna Sharma

Carbohydrates are an essential part of any diet. Carbohydrates are the body's main source of energy. They are called carbohydrates because, at the chemical level, they contain carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. Carbohydrates are the sugars, starches and fibers found in fruits, grains, vegetables and milk products. Carbohydrates provide fuel for the central nervous system and energy for working muscles. They also prevent protein from being used as energy source and enable fat metabolism. Carbohydrates provide the body with the energy it needs and are a good source of many vitamins. Our body uses these foods to make glucose, which is body's main energy source. Glucose is a type of sugar that can be used right away for energy or stored away to be used later.

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Carbohydrates are either simple or complex, and are major sources of energy in all human diets. They provide energy of 4 Kcal/g. The digestive system breaks down carbohydrates in foods and drinks into simple sugars, mainly glucose. This simple sugar is then carried to each cell through the bloodstream. The pancreas secretes a hormone called insulin, which helps the glucose to enter cells from the blood. Inside a cell the glucose is ‘burned’ along with oxygen to produce energy. Red blood cells exclusively and the brain and nervous system mainly rely on glucose as their main fuel to make energy. The body converts excess glucose from food into glycogen. Glycogen acts as a storage form of glucose within the muscle tissue and the liver. Glycogen supplement blood sugar levels if they drop between meals or during excessive physical activity. About 100gm of glycogen is stored in the liver which can supply a day of glucose need of RBC and brain during fasting. Our different body muscles store about 200-250gm of glycogen for need in increased physical exercise.

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February - March 2019