2 Being Well
Digestion, Health and Nutrition

The Human Digestive System

Our digestive system has the herculean task of having to taking large pieces of food and reduce them to microscopic size particles that can be transported in your blood and disseminated around the body for nourishment; preferably without belching, bloating or flatulence.

The digestive system is really a chorus of different organs pitching in at the right moment to maintain harmony in your body.

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Diagram of Digestive System

Human Digestive System

The digestive organs are:

Mouth: foodstuffs are mechanical broken down by chewing; saliva is added as a lubricant

Esophagus: conduit between stomach and mouth

Stomach: (1st tenor) where chemical action begins, disassembling of protein, and where pieces of food are reduced to liquid form.

Liver: (1st soprano) the center of metabolic activity, its major role in the digestive process is to provide bile salts to the small intestine for digesting and absorbing fats.

Pancreas: major role providing enzymes to completely breakdown carbohydrate and further digest fats and proteins.

Small Intestine: An exciting place to be (like back stage passes). This is where the final stages of chemical digestion occur and where most nutrient absorption takes place.

Large Intestine: Water is absorbed, fermentation takes place, some B- vitamins are made from friendly bacteria and feces are formed. The digestive system is really a disassembly plant that employs a variety of tools to achieve its objective. Systematic muscle contraction of smooth muscle fibers in the esophagus and intestinal wall are used to move food into the stomach and then push food particles along the length of the intestines. Various acids in the stomach and enzymes in both the stomach and the small intestine play the crucial role in disassembly. Because digestive activity is under direct control of the parasympathetic nervous system optimal digestion will only fully and completely take place in a physiologic and emotional environment that is tranquil.

Translated into simple terms EAT IN A CALM, QUIET ENVIRONMENT: the area where you eat a meal should be free of noise, distractions and glaring lights. Be mindful of the experience of eating, make it a pleasant one not a chore you check off of on your to do list.

A significant number of Americans experience gastric (stomach) dysfunction as heartburn, acid reflux, bloating or intestinal gas after meals. Medical wisdom blames heartburn and acid reflux on over production of stomach acids. Complaints to your MD that some foods cause you to feel bloated and gassy are managed by removing them from your diet. But you should be able to eat bell peppers, spicy food and beans without paying for it later. The unpleasant side effects of bloating or intestinal gas following meals or consuming certain foods means that your stomach and pancreatic enzymes are not sufficient for the digestive job. Add digestive enzyme capsules (like our Ultra Enzyme Support) during or following a meal.

In the larger picture, chronic gastric dysfunction affects the disassembly of large food pieces into microscopic nutrients and interferes with the absorption and the replenishment of nutrients required by the body. The chance for becoming sub-clinically or clinically malnourished is great. When your body cannot repair or renew tissues the ageing process accelerates, you wear out and/or become chronically or acutely ill.