What Is Glucose?
Glucose is the main source of energy necessary to ensure the proper functioning of the body’s cells.
These need the energy to be active, maintain vital functions (heartbeat, digestive movements, breathing …), body temperature and muscle movements.
Somehow, you could say that glucose is for the human body like gasoline for a car, because it provides enough energy to develop a normal daily activity.
The Greek word glykýs, which can be translated as “sweet”, derived in the French glucose, which arrived in our language as glucose. This is called a sugar that is found in various fruits.
A sugar is a substance that is part of the set of carbohydrates, also called carbohydrates or carbohydrates.
Because it is a sugar whose decomposition into a simpler one by hydrolysis is not possible, glucose is a monosaccharide.
On the other hand, having six carbon atoms and having an aldehyde functional group, it is an aldohexose.
From the nutritional point of view, it is a sugar of simple composition (monosaccharide) that enters the body through food.
During the process of digestion, a chain of chemical transformations is launched, along with the digestive tract, which converts food into smaller substances, nutrients, and these, in turn, are broken down into even smaller elements.
For example, foods rich in carbohydrates are transformed into glucose, which is its simplest component.
Well, when it reaches the small intestine, it passes to the blood and from the bloodstream to the cells.
Glucose, in short, is a sugar, a monosaccharide, and an aldohexose. This substance, white in color and sweet in taste, is soluble in water.
More precisely, the blood is responsible for transporting it to the liver, brain and other cells of the body.
Now, to enter the cells and be able to be used as fuel, you need the mediation of insulin. This hormone is like the key that, fitted in the lock, opens the door of the cells.
The cells of the nervous system and the brain are the only ones in the whole body that receive glucose directly from the bloodstream, without the mediation of insulin. In addition, for these cells, it is the exclusive source of energy.
Through the oxidation of glucose, various compounds that provide energy are produced. Therefore, when we eat foods with glucose, the body absorbs sugar and transforms it into energy thanks to metabolic activity.
While plants can synthesize glucose through photosynthesis, animals and humans must get glucose from other living beings or synthesize it from other organic compounds.
It is important to mention that glucose, whether combined or free, is the organic compound that is most abundant in nature.
According to the amount of sugar present in the body, the blood sugar level (known as glycemia) is determined.
There is a normal blood sugar level: deviations from these values can reveal the presence of diabetes or other disorders.
How is the amount of blood glucose regulated?
After the ingestion and subsequent digestion of a meal increases the level of glucose in the blood and, consequently, the pancreas begins to produce insulin.
This hormone is responsible for increasing the uptake of glucose by cells in all tissues so that they burn and use it as fuel.
But insulin not only fulfills this function but also activates the cellular mechanisms necessary for part of the glucose to be transformed into glycogen.
This compound is stored in the liver and muscles and serves as an energy reserve, in the short term, which can be used when you need the energy to make an extra effort or in periods of fasting.
When the cells are well supplied and can no longer use more glucose, insulin intervenes again.
But now, its mission is to give the order to convert the surplus sugar into fat that, subsequently, will be stored in the adipose tissue cells, also as reserve material.
When the amount decreases (during periods of fasting, after physical exercise …), insulin levels also decrease, because otherwise there would be a risk that the glucose would fall too low and not enough to feed the cells of the brain.
When the blood glucose falls below normal, another pancreatic hormone comes into play: glucagon. This hormone has antagonistic functions to those of insulin since it activates the mobilization of reserves stored in the body to obtain energy.
When the blood glucose values are below 70 mg/dl. In general, if it is 55 mg / dL or less, symptoms of low glucose levels begin to be felt.
When the blood glucose values are within normal limits, that is, between 70 and 100 mg/dl fasting. The blood glucose level after an overnight fast is called basal glucose.
When the blood presents abnormally high values of glucose (higher than 100 mg/dl, fasting). If the levels are 100 mg/dl, or more, you should consult with the doctor. Above 125mg / dl is considered unhealthy.
In scientific terms, we can say that glucose is a monosaccharide. This means that it has a simple structure that can not be further decomposed since it is the simplest structure from which more complex structures such as other types of sugars are assembled.
The molecular formula or structure of glucose molecules is C6H12O6, which means that this structure is made up of six carbon molecules, twelve hydrogen molecules, and six oxygen molecules.
Glucose is a sugar that is naturally present in elements such as fruits or honey.
Fruits also have another type of natural sugar that is known as fructose.
This is easily tested by tasting different fruits or honey and one immediately distinguishes its sweet taste.
However, sugar or glucose can also be obtained from other elements, but at the industrial level: when different cereals such as corn and wheat are processed, the starch is separated and, starting from a process known as enzymatic hydrolysis, the glucose.