Monday, May 20, 2024

Proper Digestion…

December 4, 2009 by  
Filed under Health, News, Weekly Columns

( Here’s a very interesting read, which you should find helpful and informative.

Proper digestion of your food relieves discomfort from overeating and naturally aids in preventing gas, bloating, burping, heartburn and indigestion.

Foods high in complex carbohydrates, such as grains and legumes, are the primary foods responsible for bloating, gas, and other stomach problems, because they are difficult to digest.

A lack of digestive enzymes is often the problem with intestinal problems, indigestion, and bloating.

Good health is the result of what one assimilates, not what one necessarily eats. We put lots of food into our bodies, but only those that have been properly assimilated can be utilized for rebuilding and repairing cells and malfunction areas. Proper assimilation is acquired by “drinking the solid foods and chewing the liquid food.”

This is an old and true axiom. We should thoroughly chew the solid foods, mixing saliva with them until the food becomes a liquid; and then we drink it. The liquid foods must be swished (or chewed) in the mouth, then swallowed. The saliva thoroughly mixed with the foods is the key that opens up the doors of digestion. Without mixing saliva with the food, the balance of the digestive juices is not activated for good assimilation. By gulping, “inhaling” or bolting the food down without properly mixing saliva with it, we only get eight to ten percent of its value. By properly chewing we can raise this to forty or forty-five percent. The rest is generally cellulose or indigestible fiber.

Starting with a morsel of food in the mouth, we begin the process of digestion. Saliva keeps the mouth moist and usually contains a starch-digesting enzyme, ptyalin, which breaks down starches into the simple sugar, glucose. Place a bit of cracker on the tongue and in a moment it will taste sweet, due to the action of this enzyme. The introduction of food into the mouth -or even the smell of food -stimulates increased production of saliva and also signals to the stomach and small intestine that food is on the way.

The digestive tract – also called the gastrointestinal tract or alimentary canal – provides the pathway through which foods move through the body. During this process, foods are broken down into their component nutrients to be available for absorption into the bloodstream to feed the cells of the body.

As food is chewed, it becomes lubricated, warmer, and easier to swallow and digest. The acidic environment of the stomach and the action of gastric enzymes convert the chewed food into a liquefied mass that is squirted from the stomach into the small intestine. Carbohydrates tend to leave the stomach rapidly and enter the small intestine; proteins leave the stomach less rapidly; and fats linger there the longest.

The small intestine is the principal site of digestion and absorption. There, enzymes and secretions from the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, and the small intestine itself combine to break down nutrients so that they can be absorbed. The pancreas is an enzyme factory, supplying enzymes to digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates. Intestinal cells also supply some enzymes. The liver produces the bile required for the emulsification of fat, and the gallbladder stores the bile until it is needed. The absorption of nutrients in the small intestine is facilitated by tiny projections called villi, which provide more surface area for absorption. The nutrients pass through the intestinal membranes into the circulatory system, which transports them to body tissues. Nutrients are then absorbed into the cells, where they are used for growth, repair, and the release or storage of energy. The overall process of this energy release is called metabolism, and is highly complex.

Undigested food proceeds from the small intestine into the large intestine (colon), where it becomes concentrated, as a liquid, and is absorbed in preparation for excretion. Bacteria, located in the colon causes fermentation, which facilitates further breakdown, but absorption of nutrients from the large intestine is minimal.

The key points to remember about digestion are:

    * Foods must be broken down into their component nutrients before they can be absorbed.
    * The body does not care whether nutrients it absorbs through the digestive tract come from “natural” or synthetic sources. The body’s reaction to absorbed nutrients depends on their chemical structure not the source from which they were obtained.

The first rule of digestion that almost everyone violates is over-consumption. It may sound shocking, but you can survive on one-third of your daily food intake. Our eyes are often bigger than our stomachs. The number one cause of indigestion is over-consumption.

One problem is that our brains are about ten minutes behind our stomachs. This means that once our stomachs are full, our brains don’t give us that “full feeling” until ten minutes later. To avoid over-consumption you should stop eating before you get the feeling of fullness (go for half full).

In order to be aware of when our stomachs are half full we have to slow down and eat more consciously. This means being aware of the types of food we are eating, our portion sizes, and the speed at which we are eating.

Use your sense of smell, sight and taste to determine what foods are right to eat. And learn proper food combining. This forces you to slow down and analyze what you are about to ingest.

Look at how much you have on your plate and keep in mind that you can survive on one third of your daily food intake. With each meal decrease the size of your portions. A general and easy rule of thumb is a portion size should be no bigger than the size of your fist.

Lastly, it’s not a race. Slow down and enjoy your meal. Meals on the go are not healthy, so make sure you find time during the day to dedicate to eating.

It may take some time to adjust to, but implementing these concepts will help relieve your digestive discomfort.

The digestive process can vary depending on what is being eaten and the person’s metabolism. For example, fat takes alot longer to digest than sugars. Fiber in the diet speeds up transit time (the amount of time from chewing to bowel movement). Generally it can range from 24 to 48 hours for men and slightly longer for women. Chewing takes 5 to 30 seconds followed by swallowing for up to 10 seconds. The food enters the stomach where it is churned and broken apart by harsh acids, namely hydrochloric acid. The food can remain in the stomach from 1 to 4 hours after which it empties in a semi liquid form called chyme into the small intestine. Here is where most of the real digestion takes place.

In other words most of the nutrients are absorbed from the small intestine into the blood stream. The highly acidic nature of the chyme is neutralized by the pancreas with bicarbonates and bile from the gallbladder and liver. This process can take about 3 to 6 hours. Finally about 10 hours after you’ve eaten the mushy paste of undigested food enters the large intestine or colon. Here it may take another 18 hours or even up to 2 days before its elimination as feces. Water and certain vitamins are absorbed from the colon but most of the waste consists of indigestible bits of food, mostly fibers from fruit, vegetables and grains.

So you see transit time for a meal can vary anywhere from 22 hours up to two days.

And there you have it, “from the tooter to the rooter”!

Remember, I’m not a doctor. I just sound like one.

Take good care of yourself and live the best life possible!

Written By Glenn Ellis

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