Did you know that your body is like a puzzle; it is very complex and relays on every piece to create a complete product. There are so many pieces to this puzzle that many people don't quite understand, which enables them to get the picture, and that's okay. This not-so-complete picture has really became apparent in today's generation. Unfortunately, we have literally been fed countless misconceptions into what we can and can't put into our bodies. The fact of the matter is that it's not about the products appearance, but its structure and function. Think about it; it's simple. Do you really want to be putting something into your body that looks really healthy, but actually contains the same amount of carbohydrates as a candy bar? Probably not. Intrigued? Read on and I will explain exactly what I mean!
The first piece of the puzzle is carbohydrates. If you watch any kind of television I know what your thinking, so stop! Carbohydrates are not the spawn of Satan, carbs are a very essential part of your diet that shouldn't be eliminated. Why you ask? Carbs are your bodies ticket to energy. Within the carbohydrate piece of the puzzle lies monosaccharides, which make up carbohydrates, better known as simple sugars. Examples of these monosaccharides are: glucose, which is carbs in the simplest form and can be found in a number of beverages, such as powerade, galactose,found in milk and fructose, found in fruits, to name a few.
Like I mentioned before, structure plays a roll into knowing what's being put into your body. Although all of these monosaccharides, simple sugars, aren't able to be seen in what we are consuming, they all don't look the same. When looked at it from a chemistry perspective fructose appears in the shape of a hexagon, having 6 base linkages. Glucose on the other hand only contains 5 base linkages, taking the shape of a pentagon. Even though they all look different, they all contain the same ratio! They each consist of a 1:2:1 ratio, which consists of six Carbons, twelve Oxygens, and six Hydrogens, more commonly referred to as C6H12O6. I think that this is really cool because chemically it looks different but when you really stop and think about it, its not really all that huge of change because its made up of the same ratio of all the others!
Disaccharides join monosaccharides in the carbohydrate piece of the puzzle. Unlike monosacchrides being "simple," containing one sugar, disaccharides contain two. They are actually made up of two monosaccharides, which makes sense, mono meaning one, 1 sugar + 1 sugar = 2 sugars (disaccharide). Lactose is one of the most common examples of a disccharide. Lactose is made from the monosaccharides galactose and glucose. This is found in dairy products, which is why lactose is sometimes reffered to as "milk sugar." If you are anything like me your probably wondering why milk isn't very sweet if it consists of two sugars? One of the reasons is, the monosaccharide, galactose isn't a sweet sugar. Galactose is much less sweeter than glucose and it is a large component in food energy and is more of a nutritious sweetener. Therefore, galactose doesn't contribute a large amount of "sweetness" to milks taste.
Sucrose is another great example of a disaccharide. I think this is probably the most well known disaccharide of the bunch, because sucrose is table sugar. So all sucrose is, is tiny white sweet crystals, right? Wrong. Sucrose is made of the monosaccharides fructose and glucose and actually has to undergo a process to get there! This process is known as dehydration synthesis. Breaking it down makes it much easier to understand. Dehydration means lack of water and synthesis means combining to make something new, so that means that when these to monosaccharides bond the water is taken out to produce sucrose.
Now that I've gone over the one and two sugared, mono and disaccharides, I'll tell you a little bit about the substances that contain more than one or two sugars. These are known as polysaccharides. Polysaccharides are polymers of monosaccharides, which are long sugar unit chains. Polysacchirdes are the form of carbs that everyone seems to think are the god-awful foods that contribute to the "inter-tube midsection" or the much unwanted "thunder- thighs," but that isn't at all true when you look at what they can actually do for your body. Starch is the perfect example of a polysaccharide, these foods are packed with energy, common examples are: potatoes and grains like, corn, rice and wheat. These foods are best consumed the night before a physical activity because the starch that you consumed is converted to glycogen, which allows are muscles to have energy to preform which aids our performance in physical activity.
So you see, starchy foods have a major benefit to your diet! Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you should go eat a baked potato loaded with butter and sour cream, because the sour cream contains lactose and the potato will convert to glycogen and the butter can't be that bad. That is not what I'm getting at, at all in order for you to consume these foods you must create a balance and not overload, unless you plan on partaking in high energy physical activity, these foods are indeed good for you, just not as the primary portion of a meal.
In the previous paragraph I mentioned "butter" but I didn't state which category it would be placed in, so I am now going to introduce the second piece of the puzzle, lipids. Like carbs, lipids also have a bad reputation because people are often misinformed of their benefits. I will be completely honest with you, for a long time, I was one of those people! I really had to research and ask questions to create an understanding of how this product would effect my body, nevertheless I'm still skeptical at times, so I constantly read into things. But, who wouldn't be skeptical?
Think about it, lipids are categorized as, FATS, OILS, WAXES and STEROIDS. Thanks to our wonderful media all of those items have been tacked as horrible, something that will transform your body into anything but pretty. But something that you have to understand is that fat is not this horrible thing that its commonly referred to. Lipids do not mix with making them hydrophobic, which is why when you try to mix oil and water they separate. They are made of one Carbon, two Hydrogens and very little Oxygen, CH2O.
Now that I've given you a little chemical background of lipids lets move on to what has become one of the most controversial categories of a lipid, fats. Fats are mostly made of molecules of triglyceride, these molecules are made of three fatty acid molecules along with a glycerol molecule. The fatty acids are like huge energy storage tanks that more than double the energy that you can receive from starches! The only down side is that it's much easier to burn off starch. These fatty acids have quite the interesting structure, they kind of remind me of a magnet. One end of the acid is known as hydrophylic, this end is attracted to water, very water loving, the other end is non polar, known as hydro-phobic, which "repels" from water.
Fats is broken down into two categories, saturated
and unsaturated. Unsaturated fats have less than the maximum number of hydrogens in the fatty acid bond whereas saturated fats contain the maximum number of hydrogen atoms. To put it into simpler terms, foods that are high in saturated fats aren't good for you. Foods such as fatty beef, animal skin foods, butter, and bacon to name a few are packed with high counts of saturated fatty acids, which are difficult to break down. Unsaturated fats on the other can be very good for you and are easier than saturated facts to break down! A perfect example are avocados
, these wonderful fruits are rich in unsaturated fat and contain 20 vitamins and minerals!
Onto our final piece of the puzzle, proteins. Proteins are made of amino acids, allowing your body to preform most of its functions. They are made up of an amino and carboxyl group, the amino group contains, two hydrogens and one nitrogen, the carboxyl group contains, one carbon, two oxygen and one hydrogen, along with one carbon and one hydrogens not categorized in either group. These amino acids that make up proteins are linked by dehydration reactions between the adjacent amino acids, which are known as peptide bonds. These acids can have more than one amino acid, dipeptides have two amino acids and polypeptides contain anything greater than three acids.
If you are wondering where these proteins can be found in regards to your food
, vegetables and poultry are filled with protein, just watch your preparation technique!
You now know the essential pieces to the puzzle of your diet and how to use them effectively. I also hope that I have given you insight into the benefits and set-backs of how food is categorized and how not all carbs and foods that are high in fats are bad for you. So quit getting caught in the media craze, pay more attention to what your food is made of and what benefit it has for you. Function is a key aspect into understanding your diet and what you should and shouldn't be consuming. If you have to look your foods up, find there benefits, are they really doing your body good or are they just well marketed?
So remember this, your plate is like a puzzle, what you put on it should fit together to make a rationed picture, if you leave a piece out your creating a gap which makes the puzzle incomplete. Think of it this way, do you really want to be the creator of an incomplete puzzle when it comes to your health?