The Importance of Carbohydrates in Your Diet!

The importance of carbohydrates in your diet will never be more clear after you read how they play a vital role in the digestion process. If you deprive yourself of these essential foods, your body will not operate correctly and cause you to gain weight, have less energy, grow weak, and live an unhealthy life.

The Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005 recommend that 45 to 65 percent of total daily calories be from carbohydrates. Foods rich in carbohydrates include bread, potatoes, dried peas and beans, rice, pasta, fruits, and vegetables. Many of these foods contain both starch and fiber.

Now it's very important not to make the mistake of eating carbohydrate rich foods that also contain a lot of preservatives, artificial flavors, fats, and harmful toxins such as bleached wheat. These can have the reverse affect on your body and cause you to gain weight and become unhealthy.

The importance of carbohydrates start with the digestible carbs, starch and sugar, which are broken into simpler molecules by enzymes in the saliva, in juice produced by the pancreas, and in the lining of the small intestine. Starch is digested in two steps.

First, an enzyme in the saliva and pancreatic juice breaks the starch into molecules called maltose. Then an enzyme in the lining of the small intestine splits the maltose into glucose molecules that can be absorbed into the blood. Glucose is carried through the bloodstream to the liver where it is stored or used to provide energy for the work of the body.

Sugars are digested in one step. An enzyme in the lining of the small intestine digests sucrose, also known as table sugar, into glucose and fructose, which are absorbed through the intestine into the blood. Milk contains another type of sugar, lactose, which is changed into smaller molecules by another enzyme in the intestinal lining. As you get older, your body tends to not accept milk any more. A good fact to know is that humans are the only mammal to continue to drink milk about 6 months after birth. That's because the enzyme used to break down milk isn't as prevalent in your body once you are old enough to eat other foods.

Keeping the importance of carbohydrates in mind, some diets actually have you cut all of the carbohydrates out of your diet. Can you see where this can be a problem? Even if you are diabetic, it is important to regulate the amount of carbs you are ingesting every day. You should seek medical advice if you are diabetic or have high blood glucose levels before starting any carbohydrate changes in your diet.

Moving on with the importance of carbohydrates. Fiber is another carbohydrate. It is indigestible and moves through the digestive tract without being broken down by enzymes. Many foods contain both soluble and insoluble fiber. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber, on the other hand, passes essentially unchanged through the intestines.

Learn more about the importance of carbohydrates and the digestive system.

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