Before digestion really happens, the smell of the ideas about food when you’re hungry is the sign to salivate. This moistens the mouth and makes it feasible to swallow food. Digestion occurs in four phases beginning with the mouth, stomach, small intestine and large intestine.
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There are two activities that take place when you put food in your mouth. One is to begin breaking down food by chewing. While you’re chewing saliva further breaks down food due to the enzyme amylase. Not chewing your food enough causes strain on the stomach to break down larger chunks. The stomach produces about 3 quarts of acid every day. This in conjunction with enzymes further breaks down the food. It’s in the gut that fats, proteins, carbohydrates, minerals and vitamins are processed for nutrient absorption.
The hydrochloric acid also kills viruses and bacteria. The pancreas, which releases enzymes, and the gut, which releases bile salts, help the small intestine in additional breakdown. It’s in the gut that the majority of the nutrient absorption occurs. Unfortunately, today’s bad diets from more processed foods, pollutants in our agriculture and misinformation, has made a nation susceptible to poor health and disease.
Long term poor diet leads to the body literally starving for nutrients while we gain unwanted weight, fatigue and immune system problems. The large intestine takes the residual mass and absorbs water, electrolytes and a few left over nutrients. The indigestible mass stays until it can be excreted. Most everyone has experienced constipation or diarrhea in their own lives and somebody who’s in comparatively good condition will find this to be temporary.
Diarrhea is when the muscles in the intestines move the mass along too fast and there’s insufficient time to allow the water to be consumed in the system. This is the reason doctors become concerned about dehydration. The reverse is true for constipation in which the waste moves along quite slowly so the water gets absorbed and the waste hardens making it hard to excrete.
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There are lots of conditions that cause havoc in the intestines that can lead to poor health. Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS, is where the muscles in the colon aren’t working properly. This may lead to diarrhea or constipation, bloating and cramping, a very uncomfortable condition. Colitis is a chronic inflammation of the intestines in which the upper layer of lining of the intestinal wall can be ruined and ulcers occur. This causes diarrhea, abdominal pain and possible bleeding. Ulcerative Colitis can be tricky to diagnose as it’s very similar to IBS and Crohns disease.
Crohns disease primarily affects the small intestine but can affect any part of the digestive tract including the mouth and gut. This disease causes inflammation even deeper in the intestinal lining. The stomach and esophagus aren’t immune to irritation. The esophagus can get inflamed from acid reflux or GERD. The acid in the stomach is able to move up to the esophagus and damage the liner. The gut can experience ulcers that may be very painful. There are other digestive ailments that can make one’s life miserable, however, there’s hope for at least one of these conditions.
Lifestyle changes and eating habits can do much to relieve or reduce symptoms. The fuel that you put in your body has everything to do with how effectively your body runs. It’s a well known fact that when you put poor gas in your vehicle it will run poorly or not at all. The same is true for a body. If you’ve spent years abusing your body by providing it poor gas, it stands to reason it won’t function well. So what do you do? Start by assessing what you consume on a daily basis and keep notes. Get educated in nutrition and health.
The grocery stores are filled with canned and packaged processed foods. Processed foods are really an enemy to good health. Some nourishment is taken out, preservatives put in to guarantee shelf life, great for the shareholders that are delighted with their gains but bad for good health. Next time you visit a grocery store try this little exercise. Avoid all of the center aisles for food items. This means no processed or canned foods, only non food items like toothpaste, paper towels etc.. Do visit the meat dept. for all organic meats, (but do maintain portions down way, you really don’t need a lot more than 3 ounce ).
Then go to the produce section for fresh fruits, vegetables and fruits, rather organic. This implies actual cooking which might not be as easy as processed foods, but by much fitter. If you do not have enough time to cook every day, take a Sunday afternoon and prepare foods to put in the freezer. Drink plenty of water! Just consume all day long. You would be amazed at what drinking water can do for your health. Water is so essential in flushing the body of toxins and waste. Your toilet won’t flush without water and this is true for your body also. Most Americans are dried and do not know it. You can find some of your fluids from produce, teas etc., but not drinking water throughout the day will make it hard on your whole body.
Some times when you are feeling a little hungry you might actually be thirsty. Drink a glass of water . If your craving for food goes off then you know that it was thirst. Your body depends on the digestive system for your very survival. A malfunctioning system impairs nutrient and water absorption. It can go like this for quite a long time but at your own peril. While you might like the cookies, pies, cakes and greasy foods that you know are not great for you, you may pay later! Whatever the condition your body is presently in with respect to the digestive system, you can do something about it. So DO something about it! You’ll live longer, lose weight and feel so much better.