by Sharon Cole
Digestion is taking substance from the outer world, and making it a part of yourself. We have all heard the phrase, “You are what you eat.” It is absolutely true, the food you ingest is used to provide you with the energy needed to think and perform tasks. This is also what the body utilizes to make red blood cells.
There are five parts of the digestion process:
ingestion of food
secretion of fluids and digestive enzymes
mixing and moving of food and waste
absorption of nutrients and
excretion of waste
All of these functions take place in and involve several organs beginning with the brain. The brain is the main processor and prepares the other organs involved in digestion to prepare for the intake of food. This is made clear to us by the secretion of saliva in our mouth. Our mouths begin to salivate in preparation for eating a tasty meal or treat. The other organs involved in digestion include the esophagus, stomach, liver, and gall bladder as well as the pancreas, the small intestine, the large intestine, the rectum, and the anus.
Parts of our digestive system, is also referred to in the medical arena as the G.I. tract which is short for the gastrointestinal tract. This reference to the G.I. tract usually excludes the first parts of the digestive system and begins with the esophagus.
Gandhi, stated that mankind should drink our food and chew our liquids. This speaks to the one of the first parts of the digestive process, chewing. Food should be properly chewed before it is allowed to enter the throat and the esophagus. A good rule to remember is to chew each mouthful of food a minimum of fifty times, and if you are experiencing a health challenge, your food should be chewed 80- 100 times, prior to swallowing. Adequate chewing of food prepares it for the digestive process.
Did you know that our digestive system secretes about 7 liters of fluid daily? This fluid is inclusive of saliva, mucus, hydrochloric acid, enzymes and bile. These fluids are used for lubrication of the G.I. tract but most importantly, are used to break the food down to its chemical components where it can be used for energy.
There is some absorption that takes place in the stomach, namely of alcohol, and water that goes directly into the blood stream. The absorption of nutrients takes place in the small intestine, which is approximately 10 to 20 feet long. Once food is eaten it is excreted 18-20 hours later. Once food leaves the small intestine 90% of all nutrients have been extracted. Now it is time for the large intestine to do its job. Food entering the large intestine is further broken down by the bacteria that reside there. A small amount of water and nutrients are absorbed before prior to the waste exiting the body via the anal canal.
It is important to have at least one bowel movement per day and ideally one movement after every meal. Once the urge to empty the bowel is present not emptying promptly allows for further absorption of water and can lead to constipation. Also waste that is allowed to sit in the large intestine for extended periods of time, exposes delicate organs like the prostate and the uterus to waste and can eventually lead to a dis-ease in these organs.