How Sugar Is Metabolized
Some crops, such as corn, sugar cane and sugar beets are processed to yield refined sugars. Glucose, fructose and galactose are all monosaccharides, or simple sugars. There are numerous other monosaccharides. They all have three to seven carbon atoms. Glucose, fructose and galactose are all hexoses; that is they have six carbon atoms. They are all isomers of each other, i.e.: they all have the same chemical formula but with differing arrangements of the constituent atoms. It is this differing isomeric arrangement to which the bodys enzymes respond during their metabolism.
Often sugar molecules will connect up in chains. A chain of two molecules is called a disaccharide. Common table sugar, called sucrose, is such a disaccharide; it is composed of one molecule of glucose and one of fructose. When the chain of sugar molecules exceeds two it is called a polysaccharide. Starch is a common vegetable dietary polysaccharide. The widespread consumption of white potatoes, an important starch, is a factor in our national obesity epidemic. On the glycemic index, white potatoes, a polysaccharide sugar, is higher than ice cream; thus white potatoes are more difficult for our blood sugar controller to manage than is ice cream.
In order for a molecule of glucose to be absorbed by the villi in our intestines, two molecules of sodium must be there to facilitate the absorption. In the absence of sodium, glucose will not be absorbed. This makes the consumption of white potatoes, such as French fries or baked potatoes liberally dosed with table salt, sodium chloride, doubly damaging to the human metabolism. Glycogen, manufactured by our liver, is a common animal polysaccharide composed of a long chain of glucose molecules connected in a slightly different way than the starch. In between meals, it is this glycogen that is secreted by the liver into the bloodstream that prevents our blood sugar from falling too low.
This is the system that fails with certain forms of hypoglycemia In our intestines, disaccharides and polysaccharides are broken down into monosaccharide form by enzymes in our brush border villi. The monosaccharides are then absorbed. Sucrose, table sugar is a common disaccharide that is broken down into glucose and fructose before being absorbed. The glucose goes into the bloodstream and then to the different cells of our body where it powers cellular activity and is involved in other cellular processes. The fructose goes to the liver for the triglyceride transformation needed before it can be stored as body fat.
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