Carbohydrates Function

It's said that for a good health we all need to have enough of carbohydrates in some form or the other. But why is it so and what are their functions? Here is an attempt to explain carbohydrates function and how they function in the body.
How do carbohydrates function? Very Interesting! But before that let us talk a little about carbohydrates themselves. Carbohydrates form a major part of food for every individual and help in generating energy and building body strength. Other than proteins and fats, carbohydrates are the other macro-nutrients necessary for the body. Carbohydrates can be consumed in different forms like fibers, sugar, etc. Carbohydrates is something which we consume every day. Even though it's not the only one to provide energy to the body, but it's believed to be the most efficient. Production of glucose and sucrose is one of the main function of carbohydrates. These sugars are in turn absorbed by the body to produce energy with very little effort. In the recent past, research into the function of carbohydrates have found that there are two different kinds of carbohydrates - simple and complex carbohydrates. Foods which can be digested by the body quickly are called simple carbohydrates while complex carbohydrates are those which take longer to digest.

Simple carbohydrates are also called bad carbohydrates as the amount of essential vitamins and nutrients provided by some of these carbohydrates is comparatively less as compared to complex carbohydrates. On the other hand, the body takes a longer time to convert complex carbohydrates into glucose, and the amount of additives and processed sugar are low.

What is the Function of Carbohydrates?

With the kind of workload we go through every day, it becomes necessary to provide our body with enough energy so that the vital organs keep functioning in the proper order. Tiredness, fatigue and poor mental conditions are some of the common conditions associated with the lack of carbohydrates in the body. As such, carbohydrates become necessary as they are a source of energy. If there is excess intake of foods rich in carbohydrates, they would be stored in the body till required. Moreover, carbohydrates are necessary for proper functioning of the digestive and immune system, nervous system, heart and the brain. Fibers, another form of carbohydrates, are required for eliminating toxins and wastes, besides helping in keeping the intestine free of diseases.

How do Carbohydrates Function in the Body?

A variety of enzymes in the body break down and digest carbohydrates thereby forming glucose which is then absorbed by the body. In case glucose produced is not required at that point of time, it's stored in the muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. Glycogen is converted into glucose as and when the body needs extra energy.

Simple Carbohydrates
Simple carbohydrates may occur naturally like in fruits or may be broken down and manufactured to form products high in sugar and fat. Simple carbohydrates usually contain one or at the most two sugar molecules, and due to this reason they can be broken down easily into glucose. However, as these carbohydrates can be broken down easily and absorbed by the body, they increase the blood sugar levels rapidly, thereby boosting energy, which is then followed by a quick drop in sugar levels, and as a result energy levels. This can ultimately lead you to feel more tired.

Usually, simple carbohydrates are found in sugar which we use to sweeten cakes and is also used in soft drinks and sweets. As this form of carbohydrate is unnatural, the chances of gaining weight is high. Moreover, there are chances of you getting tooth decay, hunger, diabetes and mood swings.

Complex Carbohydrates
Also called starchy carbohydrates, complex carbohydrates are most common in vegetables and fruits, legumes, pasta, bread, brown rice, potatoes, cereals and grains. In complex carbohydrates, the sugar molecules are combined together in chains and due to its complex structure they are not digested or broken down quickly. These carbohydrates are better for the body as energy is released slowly and steadily, thereby releasing the same amount of energy throughout the day. The amount of fat contained in these carbohydrates are lower, besides the amount of fibers and vitamins are high.

Thus, there are several carbohydrates function, the most important being providing energy to the body. Hope this article has given you an idea of the function of carbohydrates and their importance for the body.
By Madhurjya Bhattacharyya
Published: 5/10/2010
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