What the Heck Are Macromolecules?!

There is an equation to life and it goes like this: Food + Water + x = Life.

Put on your science nerd glasses and let’s learn about macromolecules.

Macromolecules (food) are essential for living. Every cell in the human body is made up of millions of elements, which are used to help us function, reproduce and much more. The four primary organic compounds found in all living things are carbohydrates, proteins, nucleic acids and lipids – also known as fats.

So, let’s break this down.

Carbohydrates (sugars) are the primary source of energy for all living things. The building block of carbs is glucose, which is considered the fuel to our bodies.

Nucleic acids (DNA & RNA) are composed of smaller units called nucleotides, which contain sugar molecules, a phosphate group, and a nitrogen base. There are two essential nucleic acids – DNA and RNA.

Proteins are more than just big muscles and protein shakes. Nucleic acids rely on proteins, which are composed of long chains of related simple amino acids. There are 20 different types of amino acids that our bodies depend on to continue to exist – histidine, isoleucine, lysine, leucine, phenylalanine, methionine, tryptophan, threonine, and valine.

Lipids help store energy and consist of a large group of molecules, including fat-soluble vitamins, fatty acids, and sterols which are hormones and cholesterol.

BUT – That’s not all that’s essential for living.

Along with macromolecules, water is crucial. The human body weight is approximately 60% water, meaning it is incredibly vital to a functioning body.  Your body uses water in all its cells by regulating its body temperature and maintaining other bodily functions.

Macromolecules and water are essential to life at a cellular level because the cell itself cannot perform or function properly without them. The four primary organic compounds are broken down by their own enzymes through a process of chemical reactions.

So, the answer to the equation: the x in Food + Water + x = Life is enzymes. For example, proteins are essential for building and maintaining the tissues and muscles in the body. When consuming proteins, the body uses enzymes called protease in the stomach to break down the protein into amino acids. Amylase is another enzyme that is used to break down starches and carbohydrates into sugars, and lipase is used to break down lipids.

Now that you know what the heck macromolecules are, you should continue being healthy by eating your fruits and veggies, but don’t forget the carbs! So many try the ‘no carb’ diet, but as you now know, carbs are crucial to living!