Let’s talk about digestion…

It’s simple, right? Food in, food broken down, stool out? Well yes, that is what happens, but just like saying how does a car work—fuel in, turnkey, car goes? It’s a little more complex than that, and the more you familiarise yourself with how it works, what is needed, and what it feels like when running at its best, the more it enables you to take notice and take charge when things are disordered.

First of all, what is “The Gut”? The gut can also be referred to as the digestive tract, the intestinal tract, the gastrointestinal tract, and the GI system. It includes all things relating to extracting and absorbing nutrients and water from food to sustain us, from the mouth through the anus.

Digestion begins even before food hits the mouth. It starts with our thoughts. As we think about and prepare food, our salivary glands start to produce amylase, a digestive enzyme, and water to start breaking down the carbohydrates when they enter the mouth.

Food then enters the mouth, where it is chewed (starting to be broken down), swallowed, and enters the oesophagus where contraction of muscles (peristalsis) begins moving food through every section of the digestive tract.

Once the food hits the stomach and small intestines, it takes about 6–8 hours to extract as many nutrients from it as it can. This is done by churning the food, like kneading dough, and mixing it with digestive enzymes and water to further break down and extract nutrients through mechanical and chemical digestion.

The food then passes into the small intestines, which once again break down and extract nutrients further by means of more digestive enzymes being donated by the pancreas. More on digestive enzymes later. These little guys are essential to good gut health and often overlooked.

By this stage, the food is broken down so small that the body can absorb and use it. The small parts pass through the walls of the intestines, into the bloodstream, go through the liver to be processed, and then are used by the rest of the body.
I want you to know the basic mechanics, as when you understand what is going on in each area, you can identify possible things that are out of order.

Understand: different mechanisms are going on in different parts of the digestive system, depending on where the deficiency, imbalance, or damage is done, it will determine what symptoms you have and what you need to do to fix it.

Love Alissa ❤