Saccharide Science

I’m not sure why biochemists opt for big words like polysaccharides. If only Mark Twain were a biochemist, life might be easier.
I remember my unscientific difference between biology and chemistry from high school classes – many moons ago…  – If it’s green – it is biology, if it smells, it is chemistry. Let’s combine green and smelly halves into a “crossover” term -> BIOCHEMISTRY – which means to this layman – all chemical processes in our living bodies.

Carbon(C), Hydrogen(H) and Oxygen(O) are important to our life processes – I’m sure that you’ll agree.

As mentioned in other posts – too much of one good thing – Oxygen – may not be wonderful if it becomes a “RUSTY” free radical in our cells from stress, smoking, exposure to sunlight or exercise.

These three vital elements form the basis of organic chemistry (aka living chemistry) in our bodies.

We’ll accept NITROGEN (N) as a fourth vital element for our wellness journeys. Why? Nitrogen bonds into “amine” groups, for amino acids, which ultimately form proteins in our amazing body chemistry. More about amino acids in a future post.

From socratic.org pages, we snagged a chemical structure of an “EVIL” sugar  – FRUCTOSE- alongside a glucose molecule, which is our basic energy source stored and used at the cellular level of both brain and muscle.
What a difference another bonded CH2 can make…

Glucose-and-Fructose_socratic dot org

Bodily storage efficiencies are achieved when simple sugars become chemically bonded, or chained, into multi-sugared chains, for which we used a big name – POLYsaccharides.

Let’s add a Khan Academy figure of a stored form of such a “poly sugar” [polysaccharide], called glycogen, which is stored in our livers:

Glycogen_khanacademy image

 

Sugar, and stored sugar, polysaccharides, are vital to life.  Our brains are the biggest organic consumer of glucose sugar in our daily routines, followed by our muscles.

There are only three bodily places where saccharides are stored:

  1. our liver
  2. our muscles
  3. our brains

Glucose, with aid of insulin, moves via our bloodstreams, to  prioritized organs and their cell’s powerhouses to enable us to move, respire, reproduce and restore.

Our carefully regulated blood sugar system is fascinating! One published source suggests that blood sugar differences between non-diabetic and diabetic persons is less than a teaspoon of sugar. YUP! When a pancreas and insulin can’t manage blood sugar – a person is un-regulated by far less than a teaspoon of sugar.

We non-diabetics normally flow just ~4 grams or about 17 calories of sugar in our bloodstreams.  That’s about the amount to power a minute of running or rowing…

What happens to our blood system and body when we go off the reservation and have  super-sized Mickey D’s lunch?  According to patch.com,

“Think about eating an extra-value meal at McDonald’s, for example, 2 cheeseburgers, a large order of fries, ketchup, and a coke. This amounts to 230 grams of carbohydrates which converts to 230 grams of sugar, or about 46 teaspoons of sugar*. That’s putting in your body 46 times the amount of sugar required to maintain a healthy blood sugar level.”

*Note: My algebra generates a slightly different result, yet I support the bottom line.

A $64K or $640 K, or ultimately a $640 Billion health question for Americans is:

  • How effectively can one’s liver and pancreas labor process ingested sugar and manage blood sugar levels?

Too much sugar can lead to pre-diabetic or Type II diabetic conditions…

But wait, there is much more, regrettably.  If that double-arched, super-size of sugar isn’t used quickly, our efficient metabolism can produce:

the fatty rub for far TOO MANY Americans:

Simple flowing sugars can be processed to fatty acids, then into FAT, quite easily, in our liver’s chemical reaction called lipogenesis.  In survival or sedentary life modes, our bodies are “wired” to store fat efficiently.  Michael Moore was right, in my opinion, about high fructose devilry in our food industries, especially when SUPER-SIZED. Processed Fructose is muy malo:

“…obesity expert Robert Lustig contends that sugar is a poison that has a high propensity to be stored as body fat. Lustig contends that not all types of calories act the same way once inside the body. Fructose is not metabolized in the same way as other foods and is much more likely to be stored as fat in the liver. The doctor notes that in respect to health, sugar is worse than fat and can have the same artery-clogging effects. Lustig also says that eating fruit is OK because it also contains fiber, which partially blocks a portion of its carbohydrates from being absorbed. Of all sugars, processed forms of fructose, such as high-fructose corn syrup [HFCS], are the worst, according to Lustig.”

HFCS is definitely a four-letter word :(.

How hideous is the linkage between fatty deposits and diabetes?  Really hideous!

What to do?

Try to stay healthy with 100 grams of carbohydrates eaten each day (a sweet equivalent of ~400-420 calories of sugar). Try to ingest most of those 100 grams as polysaccharides (like high fiber beans, fruits and vegetables).

And try to avoid one processed “monosaccharide”, namely boxed fructose or HFCS at all costs.

Too much of a good thing (sugar) is definitely NOT wonderful.

Be well,

df

About defpersonaltrainer

Elite Masters rower, personal trainer, a "Younger Next Year" Boomer whom advocates wellness through toe-to-temple activities like a sport well-oared.
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