When viewing this certain issue from a biochemist point of view, it’s important to take into consideration how specific food molecules interact with different metabolic pathways in the body. The most distinct food molecules daily taken in by our bodies can be divided into three groups: proteins, lipids, and polysaccharides. As a person with little science background could assume, food molecules in the body are usually broken down into smaller molecules. Biochemistry zones in on the break downs of the three groups and relates it back to the issue at hand for why many people develop a habit of poor nutrition.
Polysaccharides, or more commonly known as carbohydrates, are broken down into sugars known as glucose. These glucose molecules then enter the cytosol of our cells and undergo a metabolic pathway known as glycolysis. During glycolysis, glucose molecules are converted into two new molecules called pyruvate which are then also formed into a molecule known as acetyl CoA. This molecule, acetyl CoA, then leaves the cytosol of the cell and enters another part of the cell known as the mitochondria which is responsible for creating energy through the use of acetyl CoA. After acetyl CoA enters the mitochondria, it then goes through another metabolic pathway known as the citric acid cycle which releases energy back into the cytosol. While this may seem like a never-ending conversion chain, the ultimate product of these connections is energy and fuel for the cell.
Proteins can be broken down into smaller molecules known as amino acids. These amino acids, in a way, skip the cytosol and immediately enter the mitochondria of our cells. After this, amino acids are converted into the molecule stated before, acetyl CoA, which again functions in the metabolic pathway known as the citric acid cycle to lead to the overall production of energy.
Lipids, more commonly known as fats, are broken down into smaller molecules known as glycerol and fatty acids which is are molecules that are converted to acetyl CoA. Eventually, as seen before, these molecules contribute to the ultimate production of energy for the cells.
All three of the break downs of these distinct food molecules share a common theme: the production of energy for our cells and overall our bodies. How does this simple statement relate to improving nutrition and combating obesity? This is where calories and exercise come in. When we intake too many calories, instead of getting converted into energy, glucose gets converted to fatty acids which, instead of being converted to acetyl CoA, get converted into a different molecule known as triglyceride, also known as body fat. When we exercise however, this leaves more room for more calories since the body needs more energy to keep up with the faster metabolism. Most people with obesity and diseases related to poor nutrition do not know how to keep a good balance between calorie intake and exercise and also do not monitor just exactly what enters their body.
While this only touches upon a small part of this grand challenge, understanding the breakdown of food molecules is necessary to keep in mind when trying to improve nutrition to combat diseases and obesity. Awareness needs to be brought to this issue in order for people to look at exactly what their nutritional diet consists of so they may start fighting this grand challenge more appropriately and efficiently.