Explain the differences between a monosaccharide, a disaccharide, and a polysaccharide.
A saccharide is the chemical term for a group that includes sugars, starches, and cellulose. The vast majority of the carbohydrates that we consume are saccharides. Mono and Di are prefixes that denote how many sugar molecules are in the chain. Mono means one, di means two.
A monosaccharide is a single sugar that requires no breakdown to be absorbed from the GI tract. Most are C6H12O6 such as glucose, galactose and fructose, though there are 5 carbon sugars such as ribose. In each case there is twice as much hydrogen as oxygen. Thus it is a hydrate of carbon. This class of sugars is what you eat if you need quick energy or are having an insulin reaction.
A disaccharide is a double sugar, usually C12H22O11. A molecule a water is released when 2 monosaccharides are joined with a glycolic bond. The common examples are lactose (found in milk), maltose and sucrose. Each one needs a different digestive enzyme. Sucrase breaks sucrose down to 1 molecule of glucose and 1 of fructose. Lactase breaks lactose down to 1 molecule of glucose and one of galactose. Maltese breaks maltose down to 2 molecules...