Carbohydrate Enzyme Digestion

Carbohydrates are the organic substances that include cellulose, starch and sugars. Depending on the carbohydrate molecular structure, the digestion of carbohydrates in food occurs. The complex the carbohydrate structure, the harder the digestion process occurs i.e it takes more time to break down and absorb into the blood.

Carbohydrates are divided into 3 categories. They are as follows:

  • Monosaccharides –

    These carbohydrates get digested very easily and rapidly. Galactose, fructose (fruit sugar) and glucose (corn sugar) come under this category.

  • Disaccharides –

    They take little more time for digestion. Lactose (milk sugar), maltose and sucrose (table sugar) come under this category.

  • Polysaccharides –

    They take longer tome for digestion. Starch is a polysaccharide.

  • Complex carbohydrates –

    They cannot be digested at all such as cellulose (plant fiber).

How we Digest Carbohydrates

The digestive system in our body is designed in such a way that each part digests certain carbohydrate category. The carbohydrates are broken down by a number of digestive enzymes in the digestive tract. Especially in the duodenum part of small intestine, carbohydrates are broken down to simple sugars and later absorbed into bloodstream. Digestive enzymes are thus called biological scissors as they cut the larger carbohydrate molecules to simpler forms.

In the Mouth

Carbohydrate digestion process begins in the mouth. The saliva in mouth contains amylase enzyme that helps in breaking down the carbohydrates to simple forms.

In the Stomach

Digestion in the stomach continues to occur but it slows down gradually to a certain extent. This is due to the release of digestive acids by the stomach glands that interfere with digestion process.

In the Small Intestine

The digestion process continues in the duodenum, the first part of small intestine. Here, pancreas secrete amylase enzyme that breaks down the complex sugars into sucrose, lactose and maltose. These are further broken down in the remaining part of intestine by the enzymes sucrase, lactase and maltase. Now these simpler sugars are converted to glucose that is easily absorbed by bloodstream.

Glucose Metabolism by the Liver

The simpler glucose form of carbohydrates now is taken by the bloodstream into the liver. The liver stores the glucose and distributes to the entire body for energy. Thus the liver supplies the body with energy and regulates the energy levels of the body.

  • If blood sugars level increase, the condition is called hyperglycemia. In this case, the liver converts the sugar into glycogen and stores it. This process is called glycogenolysis.
  • If blood sugar levels fall, the condition is called hypoglycemia. In this case, the stored glycogen re-converts into glucose and supplies the body with energy.
  • If the glycogen levels also come down, then a process called gluconeogenesis occurs. In this process, glucose is formed from proteins or fats and thus energy is supplied to the body.

1 response to Carbohydrate Enzyme Digestion

  1. And I thought I was the sensilbe one. Thanks for setting me straight.

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