Digestion Case Study

When you here carbs, what usually comes to mind? Bread? Meat? Milk? Grains? Sugar? Pretty much everything! Surprisingly enough, many foods, even fruits and vegetables, contain carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are normally made from plants, which undergo photo synthesis. As a result, these foods contain glucose which gives people and animals energy.

Today, it is constantly stressed that carbs are holding people back in the diet world. Often, people try to avoid carbs at all costs because carbs are believed to produce excess energy, which leads to fat. Given this digestion case study, Gwen and her friend Sara set out to research carbs after newly discovering that carbs are actually more present in their daily routines than they expected. After reading an article on greenhouse gases that animals produce, the girls wondered how much carbon dioxide people produced. This curiosity motivated them to looked closely into what carbohydrates were exactly, leading them to their first source, the nutrition facts on the Power Bar.

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The bar contains many ingredients, and within those ingredients are carbohydrates that can be categorized as simple sugars, complex carbohydrates that contain starches, complex carbohydrates that contain fiber, and carbohydrates that would produce gas. But first, it is important to understand the difference between simple sugars, starches, and fiber.

According to Brian Calkins, from Health Style Fitness, simple sugars give people IMG_0014quick energy. The sugar usually is made up of monosaccharides such as glucose, which directly travels to the body’s blood stream after consumption. Simple sugars are easier to break down. Simple sugars within the bar’s ingredients include high fructose corn syrup with grape and pear juice concentrate and glycerin, making 25% of the ingredients consisting of simple sugars.

Complex carbohydrates such as starches are not as easy to breakdown because starches FullSizeRender (9)consist of a longer chain of sugars. Examples in the list of ingredients include oat bran, milk protein isolate, rice crisps, maltodextrin, peanut butter, and brown rice.

Another complex carbohydrate is fiber. Fiber is rich in vitamins and minerals, for example vegetables. In comparison to starches and simple sugars, fiber consists of an even longer chain of sugars, making fiber take longer to break down.

Foods that are more vulnerable to produce gas include foods that are harder to digest. FullSizeRender (10)Given the data, oat bran, milk protein isolate, rice crisps, maltodextrin, peanut butter and brown rice would produce gas.

All in all, while the girls should be mindful of their carbohydrate consumption, it is near impossible to omit all carbohydrates that are not well digested because these carbohydrates (such as starches, lactose, fructose, and lentils) are necessary for energy and nutrients.