Ayurveda

Carbohydrates Digestion Process

Conversion of

disaccharides

and

polysaccharides

to

monosaccharides

is called digestion of carbohydrates. Number of digestive enzymes are responsible for the conversion of bigger carbohydrates to simple sugars like sugars.

This article gives the brief process of carbohydrate digestion.

Digestion in the Mouth

The digestion of carbohydrates begin in the mouth. The saliva in the mouth produces the enzyme called

amylase

that breaks down the complex carbohydrates to the simpler types.

Digestion in the Stomach:

The activity of

amylase

continues in stomach but it slows down considerably as the digestive acids such as hydrochloric acid in the stomach is released.

Digestion in Small Intestine:

In pancreas several enzymes act upon carbohydrates to convert them to simple glucose. Some of them are:

maltase, lactase

and

sucrase

which convert maltose, lactose and sucrose to simple sugars respectively. Intestinal walls absorbs these into the bloodstream giving the glucose to the cells and tissues.

Glucose Metabolism by the Liver:

Once the carbohydrates are duly converted to glucose in the above places of digestion, the glucose is absorbed by blood and taken to liver. In liver the glucose is stored and distributed to cells throughout the body for energy. Body glucose levels are regulated by liver. Liver converts the redundant glucoses in the blood to glycogen, in response to insulin, by the process known as glycogenolysis. This prevents hyperglycemia.

Similarly in case of hypoglycemia, that is fall in the glucose levels in sugar, the glycogen is re-converted to glucose, in response to glucogon, by the reverse process of glycogenolysis. In case the glycogens are exhausted, new glucoses are formed from proteins or fats by the process called gluconeogenesis.

Types of carbohydrates and the digestion:

Carbohydrates are classified into: Natural and Man-made carbohydrates.

Natural carbohydrates

take more time in digestion as they are reservoirs of fiber and nutrients. Though they are slow in digestion these carbohydrates are serve better for deriving energy. Some of the sources of natural carbohydrates are: fruits, wild rice, beans etc.

Man-made carbohydrates

take less time for digestion as compared to natural carbohydrates. This is because in the latter case there are more number of steps needed to convert saccharides into monos. Man made carbohydrates tend to trigger the insulin release and the process of digestion takes less time. Some of the examples of man made carbohydrates are white rice, white bread, fruit juices etc.

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