Digestion is something we take for granted. We eat whatever we feel like, whenever we feel like it and expect our bodies to deal with it. We overfeed, starve, give confusing messages and overstimulate this poor body, and wonder why we are in trouble!
When you eat a meal, or even just a snack a glorious process begins: first just even by thinking about food we start the process of digestion by producing saliva in our mouths. Saliva is important to breakdown carbohydrates before hitting the stomach. Chewing also helps the breakdown and gives the food increased area to have enzymes work on it.
In the stomach, these processes cause hydrochloric acid to be produced which further breaks down the proteins in the food getting it ready for absorption in the intestine.
Now it's absorption time! All these previously broken down proteins and carbohydrates are further broken down by another set of enzymes and absorbed by the small intestine. In a perfect gut all the nutrients from our food would be absorbed here and very little would travel to the large intestine except for fiber and undigestable products. Water would be reabsorbed in the large intestine and the bacteria naturally present in the large intestine would break down parts of the fiber and produce certain vitamins needed for the body.
Unfortunately, many of the things we do in day to day life sabotage this process.
Frances Wang, ND
A naturopathic doctor and a mother who loves life, the outdoors and exercise.