What happens to the Carbs we eat?-by Harold Gunatillake
All Carbohydrates consumed daily- such as, rice, bread, noodles, pastas, veggies, drinks, potatoes, yams, fruits, sodas with added sugar, among others- gets converted to glucose before being absorbed through villi in the small gut into the blood stream through the portal veins that leads from the gut to the liver. Fructose in fruits are directly absorbed per se without being converted into glucose.
The other sugar that is absorbed through the gut is sucrose derived from fruits, vegetables, diary products and grains. They are also added to the processed foods you eat.
Sucrose is made up of glucose and fructose
Glucose, fructose and sucrose have the same number of calories gram for gram.
Sucrose is the scientific name for table sugar that you add into your coffee and tea.
The problem with fructose
Fructose is found naturally in fruits, fruit juices, cane, sugar beets, corn, some veggies and honey.
Fructose is also a basic component in table sugar(sucrose) and is high in corn syrup.
Corn syrup is used to sweeten many processed foods and beverages. It is the hidden sugars.
When the label says ‘No Sugar’ you bet they add corn syrup. Be aware.
When large quantities of fructose reach the liver, the liver uses excess fructose to create fat, a process called lipogenesis.
Eventually, people who consume too much fructose can develop nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Those who boast that they eat lot of fruits do not realize that the fructose in them are converted into glucose and fat in the liver.
Now you can understand why non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is so common among Sri Lankans.
Excess glucose gets from the processed white rice the staple food of the Sri Lankans, and from white bread, beverages with added sugar, ice cream, fruits, and other carbs is a major risk factor for fatty liver.
Glucose is converted into glycogen for storage in the liver, and in your muscles.
Proteins in your food also similarly breaks down into amino acids in the gut and are absorbed into the same blood stream through the villi, and taken to the liver for further processing.
These amino acids are taken up into the hepatocytes i.e. hepatic cells through a variety of amino acid transporters. Amino acids can then be used to either make proteins or are broken down to produce glucose.
Excess amino acids are also converted into fat and stored in fat deposits, or else as mentioned earlier made into glucose for energy by gluconeogenesis.
So, remember eating too much of proteins also can increase your glucose in the body.
Dietary fats: The fats you consume are broken down into fatty acids, and chylomicrons takes a different path through the lacteal system and the thoracic ducts opening into the left subclavian vein.
Nature has created that different path, as amino acids, and glucose are water soluble, and fatty acids if mixed with water soluble chemicals form an emulsion and that would be disastrous and harmful.
What happens to your blood glucose?
Once in the blood stream the sugar is ready to be used as energy or stored in our bodies to be used later.
For this action, insulin is required to courier the glucose into various organs in the body, including the liver.
All parts of the body-muscles, brain, heart, liver need energy to work and this quick energy comes from the carbs we eat.
Did you know that the liver stores most of the sugar from your food as glycogen for use later when required?
When the blood stream requires more glucose at a time when no dietary glucose enter the blood stream, the liver converts the stored glucose as glycogen, into blood glucose.
This process of converting glycogen into glucose is called glycogenesis.
Those diabetics on metformin prevents this conversion to reduce blood sugar level.
Excess sugar is also stored in muscles as glycogen.
Muscle glycogen in the body is approximately 350g, or between 1,400 and 1,800 calories. Liver glycogen is approximately 80-100g, around 320-400 calories. Therefore, the body can store up to approximately 2200 calories in glycogen and as few as 1700.
Insulin seems to promote blood glucose being converted to glycogen for storage in the liver and the muscles.
Glucose can be stored in the muscles also as glycogen.
Further glycogen the stored from glucose in the liver, make up to 5-6% of the organ’s fresh weight, and the liver of an adult weighing 1.5 kg can store roughly 100-120 grams of glycogen.
So, when you talk of obesity, the situation is mainly due to stored fat as triglycerides coming mainly from glucose and invariably less from dietary fat.
How does excess glucose get stored in the fat cells as triglycerides?
There is a process called de novo lipogenesis which means creation of fat from non-fat sources. That is the mechanism that functions the conversion of excess glucose into triglycerides, which is the fat that is stored in adipose tissue
Insulin seems to participate in this conversion.
A new gene has been found that turns carbs into fat.
Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley, are unlocking the molecular mechanisms of how our body converts dietary carbohydrates into fat, and as part of that research, they found that a gene with the catchy name BAF60c contributes to fatty liver, or steatosis.
A study by the researchers found that mice that when the BAF60c gene was disabled did not convert carbohydrates to fat, despite eating a high-carb diet.
This opens a way of preventing fatty liver disease in the future by disabling the BAF60c,
Going through this video, you would realize all macronutrients such as carbs, fats and proteins you consume, metabolizes in your liver and shares with each other and the excess is stored in the liver, muscles and adipose tissue, resulting in obesity issues.
For example, if you eat too much of carbs, the body handles it by storing a portion in the liver and muscles as glycogen, and the rest would be stored as triglycerides in your adipose tissue, after using primarily to provide calories for energy.
Insulin takes the leading role in such mechanisms.
You will now realize the importance of controlling your sugar levels in your blood in diabetes.
If your pancreas does not produce sufficient insulin or the gland is over-stressed due to increase demands causing an insulin resistance the whole mechanism is in disarray and the consequences are drastic.
Think about these situations and do the right thing.
Hope this video talk was useful.
Stay safe and goodbye for now until we meet again.
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