A biochemistry lesson.

I know I've been raving about my professors lately, so I'll try to make this my last post about them (for awhile at least).

One of my classmates, whose mother tongue is not English, recently referred to a couple of my professors being "rockstars". At first, I was confused, but I soon realized that he probably means that as rockstars, my professors are performers. I agree with my classmate as my professor really do put on a show and make their subjects so interesting.

Yesterday's biochemistry class was impressive. The class was taught by a little old man who wore suspenders. His adorable appearance alone may have made me like the class, but what really made the class special is well he related the dry and complicated biochemistry material to real everyday health concerns and bodily functions.

Here is a little excerpt from my biochemistry lesson:

is a sugar made of two glucose molecules strung together. The body has the enzyme maltase to break maltose down into glucose, which we absorb into our blood for a direct source of energy.

is a the sugar found in cellulose. Our bodies don't have the enzyme cellulase, the enzyme needed to break this molecule down to be absorbed into our blood stream. As a result, cellobiose passes right through our bodies. Sound familiar? That's because cellobiose is more commonly referred to as fiber, which we all know helps us "move things along" in the digestive track.

is the sugar found in milk. You need the enzyme lactase to break this sugar down. The majority of the North American population does not have this enzyme. Humans typically stop producing this enzyme after infant-hood because we are not supposed to drink milk after we are breast fed (Note: humans are the only species on the planet to drink milk after infant-hood AND are the only species on the planet to drink the milk of another species). Lactose intolerance is the condition experienced by an individual when the don't make the lactase enzyme. If a lactose intolerant individual were to drink milk, he or she would experience bloating, diarrhea, and gas. The bloating and gas are due to the bacteria in our large intestines; lactose is a real treat for them because they are able to digest lactose and when they do, they produce hydrogen (i.e. gas) and lactic acid by-products, causing flatulence, bloating, and swelling (lactic acid aggravates the intestinal lining). The diarrhea is due to the hydrophilic (i.e. water loving) properties of lactose. When lactose passes through the digestive tract to the large intestine, it brings water with it, causing stools to be very runny. Lactose intolerant people can drink milk that has been treated with lactase enzymes (e.g. the brand Lactaid). If you ever try lactase-treated milk, you might notice that it tastes much sweeter than untreated milk because the lactose has already been broken down into individual glucose molecules.

Before I sign off, I just wanted to say that another professor told my class that an ND is: a manager (run a business), a professional (be a part of the medical world), and a health expert (give the best treatments/advice), scholar (preform and review research), and advocate (promote good health and lead by example). That seems like a lot of important roles to fulfill, but I am 100% up for the challenge!

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