Learn about disorders of carbohydrate metabolism | 24 Mantra

Carbohydrate Metabolic Disorders


Carbohydrate Metabolic Disorders

Health and Nutrition

You might’ve come across many food allergies resulting from improper metabolism, today we’ll learn about disorders of carbohydrate metabolism.

Carbohydrates are the main source of energy for human beings. There are four disorders of carbohydrate metabolism. These include:

  1. Lactose intolerance
  2. Sucrose intolerance
  3. Galactosemia
  4. Diabetes mellitus

Lactose intolerance

Lactose intolerance, one of the common disorders of carbohydrate metabolism, is the inability of the body to metabolize lactose due to the lack of enzyme lactase in the digestive system. It could be congenital lactase deficiency in infants who cannot tolerate lactose due to the absence of the enzyme lactase in the intestinal mucosa.

In the absence of the enzyme lactase, lactose cannot be hydrolyzed to glucose and galactose and there is an accumulation of free lactose in the intestines that leads to abdominal discomfort.

Symptoms of Lactose intolerance

People with lactose intolerance may feel uncomfortable from 30 minutes to 2 hours after consuming milk and milk products. Symptoms range from mild to severe based on the amount of lactose consumed and also the amount the person can tolerate.

Common symptoms of lactose intolerance

  1. Abdominal cramps
  2. Flatulence
  3. Diarrhea

Treatment involves removal of lactose sugar from the diet, that is, the diet should not contain any dairy products.

Sucrose intolerance

Sucrose intolerance, another commonly listed allergy resulting from disorders of carbohydrate metabolism occurs when there is deficiency of the sucrose alpha-dextrinase which is an intestinal enzyme. Because of the lack of enzyme there is unhydrolyzed sucrose in the system and to a much lesser level alpha-limit dextrins (which have a lower osmotic activity than sucrose) are also present in the intestine.

The symptoms of sucrose intolerance are similar to those of lactose intolerance. Abdominal discomfort is seen in people with sucrose intolerance. To prevent the symptoms of sucrose intolerance, avoid consuming table sugar and sweetened products and beverages.


Galactosemia is a very rare among the disorders of carbohydrate metabolism and is an inherited disorder of galactose metabolism.

There are two types of galactosemia.

  1. The first type there is absence of enzyme necessary for the transformation of galactose-1-phosphate to glucose -1-phosphate (transferase deficiency galactosemia).
  2. In the second type Galactose-1-phosphate cannot be formed due to lack of the enzyme galactokinase.

The symptoms of galactosemia are severe and include vomiting, liver damage, growth retardation, cataracts and mental retardation. Early detection and dietary treatment are essential.

The dietary treatment of galactosemia consists of a lactose and galactose free diet. During pregnancy, the galactosemic woman must follow a strict lactose and galactose free diet to prevent damage to the fetus.

Diabetes Mellitus

Diabetes mellitus, among the disorders of carbohydrate metabolism, is a chronic disease caused by inherited and/or acquired deficiency in production of insulin by the pancreas, or by the ineffectiveness of the insulin produced. Such a deficiency results in increased concentrations of glucose in the blood, which in turn damage many of the body’s systems, in particular the blood vessels and nerves.

There are two types of diabetes

  1. Type 1diabetes in which the pancreas fails to produce insulin which is essential for survival. This form develops most frequently in children and adolescents.
  2. Type 2diabetes which results from the body’s inability to respond properly to the action of insulin produced by the pancreas. Type 2 diabetes is much more common and accounts for around 90% of all diabetes cases worldwide. It occurs mostly in adults.

The treatment involves medication, insulin injections and dietary modifications (less free sugars and more complex carbohydrates).

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