Digestion is something we really take for granted until something goes wrong!
The dictionary defines digestion as the process of digesting food and a person’s capacity to digest food.
We really should care about our digestion as it is the difference between poor health and great health.
Digestion starts in the mouth and ends with excretion out of the anus (I know gross!).
There are six steps to digestion and each one is as important as the other if we want to be vibrant and healthy.
Ingestion – This is about what we put in our mouth. It is the only conscious choice we make in the whole process so make it count. What you put in your mouth will make a huge difference to what comes out at the other end and affects all the processes in between.
Chewing or mechanical processing – Who even does this? Think about it, do you chew your food until it is paste or do you just shove the food in, give it a few chews and then swallow. When we chew we initiate a whole series of chemical reactions and if chewing doesn’t happen it affects these reactions all the way through the digestive system. Chewing initiates the carbohydrate enzymes in your mouth (amylase) to start breaking down the carbohydrates in the food you’ve eaten. It also increases the surface area to allow the enzymes to really have access to every bit of that food. The salivary glands coat the food with saliva to make it much easier for us to swallow.
Digestion – This refers to the chemical breakdown of foods which is undertaken by enzymes. They split the foods molecules into smaller pieces so that they can be digested. These enzymes breakdown carbohydrates into simple sugars, proteins into amino acids and fats/lipids into fatty acids otherwise these macronutrients cannot be absorbed because they are too big.
Secretion is the release of several substances from the digestive tract and glandular organs (think pancreas, gallbladder and liver). They secrete water, acids, enzymes, buffer and salts.
Absorption is where those broken down food molecules cross into the digestive tract and move into your bloodstream. If all is going well with your digestion this can be an easy process. If the food is not broken down enough or you have leaky gut or intestinal permeability large food particles end up where they don’t belong and that’s when the trouble begins. This can increase food intolerances because the immune system sees all these food particles as foreign substances and precedes to lead an attack on them.
Excretion or elimination is the body’s clean up system. It removes all the left over waste, the stuff we don’t need. This turns into poo and needs to be eliminated from the body to prevent the build up of toxins. You should be having a bowel movement between one and three times every day. If you are not those toxins are being reabsorbed into your body and can make you sick. So it is really it’s better out than in!!
There you have it six easy steps when things are going right, more complicated if things are going wrong.
If you are experiencing any digestive symptoms such as excessive gas, constipation, diarrhoea, heartburn or any other chronic disease this could mean your digestive system is not working as it should. Call Angela on 0412 724 707 for your free 15 minute GUT HEALTH ASSESSMENT to see if we can get it going again.