Q:

What are starches broken down into?

A:

Quick Answer

When foods containing starches, also known as complex carbohydrates, are consumed, the body breaks the starches down into glucose. Glucose is the substance the body uses to create immediate bursts of energy.

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Full Answer

Starches are most commonly found in grains and breads and are an abundant source of energy for the body. The process of breaking down starches in the body begins in the mouth. Saliva, along with chewing, literally breaks the food down into small pieces that are able to be processed easily by the stomach. Saliva also contains enzymes that begin breaking down starches on a cellular level, converting them into maltose.

Maltose is a carbohydrate that is more easily processed by the body. Once the food is swallowed and passed into the stomach, various acids and enzymes go to work on deconstructing the maltose and converting it into glucose.

If the body is in need of any glucose for energy, it immediately passes it into the bloodstream after conversion. The unused portions are converted into a compound called glycogen for long-term storage. The body always uses any freshly produced glucose for energy before restoring the glycogen reserves. Converting glycogen to energy is more taxing than glucose, which is why many athletes consume starches and other carbohydrates a few hours before exercising.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    Which foods contain glucose?

    A:

    All carbohydrates, such as sugar, pasta, fruits, rice, potatoes, legumes, bread, milk, yogurt and vegetables, are converted into glucose in the body. Other foods, such as fat and proteins, also provide energy to the body, but the main source of energy is from carbohydrates, as stated by GroupHealth.

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  • Q:

    What are carbohydrates used for?

    A:

    The body uses carbohydrates to create energy, breaking them down into glucose that enters the circulatory system. Leftover glucose is converted into fat for long-term storage. The body can only store one or two days' worth of carbohydrates at a time, so they are used for energy before fat.

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  • Q:

    How long does it take to digest a bagel?

    A:

    Bagels, which are in the grains and starches food group, usually take around two to three hours to digest. Foods that are more dense are generally harder to digest and take a longer time to fully pass through the body's digestive system.

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  • Q:

    Does chemical digestion happen in the mouth?

    A:

    The process of chemical digestion starts in the mouth, where saliva begins to break down starches using enzymes. However, the majority of chemical digestion occurs in the stomach and large intestines.

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