Carbohydrates: Caloric value: 4 kilocalories per gram
Almost all body cells use carbohydrates as an energy source, especially the brain covers its energy consumption with them.
The sugar which is used most often for energy production is glucose.
Glucose is for your body roughly what fuel is for your car, it is absolutely vital for ‘running and moving your car’. The carbohydrates found in your food first have to be metabolized into glucose though. This process of breaking down long chains of carbs into smaller ones already starts in your mouth – but the final metabolizing into glucose happens in your stomach and intestines via the help of enzymes.
If the cells don’t need the available glucose at the moment, muscles and the liver transform it into glycogen, which is a long-chained carbohydrate used for energy storage. If necessary, glycogen can be transformed back to glucose. Besides the function of providing energy, carbohydrates also are essential for the human digestive system in form of fiber, long-chained carbohydrates which are indigestible but promote action of the bowels (peristalsis) and make transportation of intestinal contents easier. Furthermore, carbohydrates make up a part of the extracellular matrix which fills up the space between the various somatic cells (i.e. cells of the human body), and also appears in large amounts within bones, cartilages and conjunctive tissues. Additionally, carbohydrates play a role with the regulation of the water- and electrolyte balance, as well as fat metabolism.
Proteins: Caloric value: 4 kilocalories per gram
Proteins are macro-molecules which play an essential role for muscle growth in the human body. Other functions of proteins are to transport fats through the bloodstream, stabilizing the physiological pH and the osmotic balance, producing antibodies to fight infections, and acting as bio catalysators to speed up chemical processes of the metabolism. Furthermore, proteins make up parts of hemoglobin, stomach acid, enzymes and vitamins which are relevant for many chemical reactions within the body. Proteins like cyclin regulate the cell division and others control certain genes, however, arguably one of the most important functions of proteins is making up the tissue which gives organs and tissues such as collagen, conjunctive tissue, and callus their elasticity.
Fats: Caloric value: 9 kilocalories per gram
Main function of fats is to provide energy, this can happen right after metabolizing if after consumption or used as an energy reserve for bad times. Dietary fats are made up of glycerin and fatty acids, which are divided into saturated fatty acids (unhealthy; promote cardiovascular diseases and slow down the metabolism) and unsaturated fatty acids (healthy; lower LDL cholesterol level, increase HDL cholesterol level, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids which help with inflammation). Another distinction among fats is between essential and non-essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids basically just mean that they have to be consumed with your food whereas non-essential fatty acids can be produced by your body if the necessary amino acids are available. Furthermore, the human body can only absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K with the help of fats.
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