Starches and sugars are major constituents of the human diet and the catabolism of monosaccharides, notably glucose, derived from them is an essential part of human energy metabolism (Dashty 2013). Glucose can be catabolized to pyruvate (glycolysis) and pyruvate synthesized from diverse sources can be metabolized to form glucose (gluconeogenesis). Glucose can be polymerized to form glycogen under conditions of glucose excess (glycogen synthesis), and glycogen can be broken down to glucose in response to stress or starvation (glycogenolysis). Other monosaccharides prominent in the diet, fructose and galactose, can be converted to glucose. The disaccharide lactose, the major carbohydrate in breast milk, is synthesized in the lactating mammary gland. The pentose phosphate pathway allows the synthesis of diverse monosaccharides from glucose including the pentose ribose-5-phosphate and the regulatory molecule xylulose-5-phosphate, as well as the generation of reducing equivalents for biosynthetic processes. Glycosaminoglycan metabolism and xylulose-5-phosphate synthesis from glucuronate are also annotated as parts of carbohydrate metabolism.
The digestion of dietary starch and sugars and the uptake of the resulting monosaccharides into the circulation from the small intestine are annotated as parts of the “Digestion and absorption” pathway.