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How Important Are Carbohydrates In Your Diet?

Submitted by Serena Mason on December 23, 2009

Carbohydrates are sugars which form an essential part of a healthy and balanced diet. The main sugar in the body is glucose, which is the best source of fuel required by the body. Certain tissues and cells require glucose in order to function properly. A reduced glucose level in the blood results in the utilization of the stored glucose reserves of the body. Glucose is stored in the form of glycogen in the body and the liver is the main storehouse for glycogen, although some amount of glycogen is also stored in the muscles.

A fall in glucose content in the blood results in the breakdown and the release of glycogen into the blood. Once the reserves of glycogen have been utilized, the body must begin to produce glucose. This process allows for the creation of new molecules of glucose.

However, this complex process requires the breakdown of proteins in the muscles of the body.

When carbohydrates are consumed, the sugars are absorbed by the body and used for the functioning of cells. Sufficient intake of carbohydrates ensures that the energy reserves of the body are not touched.

Carbohydrates provide energy and increase the metabolic rate of the body. With increased metabolism, the body is able to burn off calories efficiently. An insufficient supply of carbohydrates results in breakdown of muscle tissue, reduced brain functioning and fatigue.  As the body starts breaking down muscle tissue for energy, weight loss occurs.

In addition, weakness, dizziness, nausea, mood swings and depression can also occur.

A minimum of 100 to 150 grams is the required daily amount of carbohydrates. The brain requires 120 grams, red blood cells require 30 grams and the process of wound healing requires 20 to 30 grams each day. The breakdown of muscle tissue can be prevented by supplying the body with 180 – 200 grams of carbohydrates every day. If an excess of carbohydrates are consumed the liver becomes full with glycogen molecules and the carbohydrates are stored as fat in the body.

Carbohydrates are classified into groups of simple and complex. Simple carbohydrates are sugars that are more easily digested and are contained in foods such as cake, candy, jelly and soda. These add calories to the diet and result in production of fat. Complex carbohydrates are starches which take a longer time to digest and are contained in foods such as grains, bread, vegetables and fruit. These foods are eaten whole and as such contain plenty of nutrients.

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