Your body needs calories to meet its energy requirement. One of the primary sources of energy is carbohydrates. Carbohydrates come from many sources such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains and rice. Increasingly the modern world has witnessed the profusion of processed foods that contain a significant amount of carbohydrates, foods such as biscuits, cakes, pastries or pre-processed noodles. Research into the eating habits of man reveals that before the domestication of animals and the prevalence of farming, a man consumed approximately 35% of his calories from carbohydrates. Post agriculture, this increased to about 49%. The human body had to adapt to these changes.

To keep the body in homeostasis or balance the body started to produce increased amounts of an enzyme called amylase. Amylase is an enzyme that helps you break down carbohydrates into a form that can be digested by your body called glucose. The process of breakdown starts in the mouth by the secretion of saliva. Saliva contains amylase, hence the belief you should chew your food. Also, your pancreas makes amylase and collectively this process helps you break down the carbohydrate.

The first adaptation to an increased carbohydrate came about 12,000 years ago. Over the past hundred years, we have witnessed another significant shift in our dietary habits. Before me changing my eating habits, almost 80% of my food was carbohydrate. Amylase is also used in the process of brewing beer, liquors made from sugar and in the making of bread. So even foods that do not appear to contain amylase might do so. A diet like this causes a substantial amount of strain on your pancreas. In fact, many human beings and also your ancestors have a significantly lower capacity to generate amylase. For example, the hunter-gatherer societies such as Biaka or Yakuts have lower production of amylase. Keeping your body in balance is your best choice which happens when you eat a balanced diet.


Ritesh is a born again health enthusiast and holds a Certificate in Physiology from Harvard Medical School and a Certificate in Nutrition from Tufts University.