What is Digestion?
Digestion starts as soon as we put that yummy piece of food in our mouths. We break it up using our teeth as we chew and the saliva helps this process by adding moisture. The saliva also has an enzyme called amylase which helps break down the carbohydrates. Our food now resembled a round piece which is now called a bolus. We then swallow and it continues it's journey down our esophagus.
The esophagus is approx 10 inches long and connected to our stomachs. The bolus moves down the esophagus with peristalsis movement. The stomach receives the food and mixes it with gastric juices. The protein starts being digested in the stomach. The stomach can only absorb a limited amount - mainly water, salt and lipid-soluble medications. The food that was originally put into our mouths is now called a chyme and is moved along to the small intestine.
The pancreas, a long soft gland behind the stomach, then stows digestive enzymes into the opening of the small intestine. The carbohydrates, proteins and fats can now be broken down. There are different pancreatic juices for different aspects of our food.
The liver makes bile. The bile salts will help with the digestion of any fats. The bile will join the pancreatic juices in the small intestine. If you are lucky enough to still have a gallbladder this bile can be stored for later use which explains why my gallbladder-less body has some trouble digesting a high fat diet!
One of the largest glands in the body is the liver. It has many jobs in the body, one being to help us digest our food. It does this by producing bile that breaks down the fats. It also carbohydrates and proteins turning them into fat molecules. Our bodies will then carry these molecules to our adipose cells where we then store them.
The peristalsis movement, as mentioned earlier, moves the 'food' to the small intestine. A lot of the absorption of nutrients takes place here and it has plenty of opportunity to do so in the 18 to 20 feet of small intestine! The pancreatic juices and bile from Gallbladder will help digest the food here too. This is also where the nutrients from the chyme will be absorbed. The villi (little structures) is where the nutrients are absorbed in the small intestine.
The remainder of the chyme will travel on to the large intestine where water and electrolytes are absorbed. Any leftovers are stored in the large intestine and will now be feces where they will stay until it is time to poop!
Ok so now we know the science of it – How can we improve our digestion?
What can we do to help our body out? What steps can we take to reduce bloating, constipation, IBS and any other problems we may be experiencing? Or maybe we just want to help it out to avoid getting any problems in the first place!
80% of our immune system is located in our digestive tract so it is soo important we look after it!
You can find more information about good supplements to take on my page here.
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