WHAT ARE CARBOHYDRATES AND WHAT DO THEY DO?

hidratos de carbono

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy that the body has in order to carry out its daily activities, but they are also used to obtain energy when we do sports, because they provide 4 calories per gram. 

 

Hence its importance and why they are considered, by many, one of the bases of our diet. They are also known as carbohydrates, sugars or saccharides. 

 

One of the reasons why they are so beneficial is that their effects are felt immediately. After ingesting them, the amount of sugar in the blood increases. The body uses the amount it needs for the functions it is currently performing and what it does not need, it stores in the form of fat in the body to create a reserve in case it needs it. This causes the sugar levels to return to normal after this process. 

 

The enzyme amylase is responsible for breaking down its molecules and converting them into glucose quickly. 

 

There are two types of carbohydrates, simple and complex. 

 

The simple carbohydrates: are the monosaccharides and disaccharides, have a sweet taste and are absorbed quickly in our intestine. Of the best known monosaccharides we can highlight glucose and fructose. Surely you have heard of them. Of the disaccharides to highlight, there is lactose, galactose and sucrose, the last two perhaps are not so well known. 

 

On the other hand, complex carbohydrates (also called polysaccharides) have a not so sweet taste and are absorbed in our intestine more slowly. The best known are starch (which forms the plant energy reserve) and glycogen (forms the body’s main energy reserve in the liver and muscles).

 

The functions of carbohydrates in our body

 

Providing power. This is what we stressed most at the beginning of this article. It is that they provide the easiest energy to use so that our body can do its basic functions and so that it has the necessary energy to function all day long, especially for our brain, since it is its only source of energy and needs a lot. 

 

They help to save proteins: by using the energy provided by carbohydrates instead of proteins, we will manage to save proteins in order to use them in other processes of the body. 

 

They prevent ketone bodies from forming: ketones are a waste of fat. They appear when the body uses fat instead of sugar for energy. If we use the sugar in the carbohydrates we have just consumed, we will avoid their appearance, which can cause arrhythmias and osteoporosis. 

 

They form the tissues: both connective and nervous. In addition, they help form very important molecules, for example, DNA and ATP. 

 

They have regulatory functions: of the intestine mainly, but they also reduce constipation and produce a feeling of satiety. 

 

It is important to eat the daily amounts of carbohydrates that our body needs, because a lack of them can cause health problems. And consuming too much can cause fat to build up in our bodies. People who want to lose weight should not make the mistake of eliminating this food completely, but should adjust the amounts they eat to their needs. 

 

Now you know a little more about carbohydrates and the role they play in our bodies

 

Foods containing a high carbohydrate content

The sources of carbohydrates could be summarized in 4 food groups:

Cereals: Rice, wheat, oats, barley, corn, rye, pasta

Tubers: Potato, Sweet Potato, Cassava,

Sugars: Beet, sugar cane, honey

Pulses: Chickpeas, lentils, beans, peas, soya