Carbohydrates

Introduction to the Digestive System of the Human Body

Carbohydrates exist in many different forms.

The word carbohydrate refers to any one of a huge group of compounds that contain the elements carbon (C), oxygen (O) and hydrogen (H) and have the general formula: Cx(H2O)y.

Examples of carbohydrates include sugars and starch.


Why are they important?

  1. Carbohydrates are an important source of energy.
    They are produced by plants, in which carbohydrates form important structural and storage materials, e.g. cellulose and starch, respectively.
  2. Carbohydrates are ingested into the human body as food (incl. sugary drinks).
  3. Carbohydrates are one of the three main parts of the human diet - the others being fat and protein.


How does the body process, use, and store carbohydrates?

All carbohydrates ingested as part of the diet are eventually broken-down by the body into the simple sugar glucose - which can participate in energy-generating metabolic processes.

Excess carbohydrates, ingested but not needed by the body immediately are stored in the liver and muscles in the form of glycogen.

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