You are not what you eat, you are what you digest and assimilate. ~ Tony Robbins
Healthy and effective digestion is a tell-tale sign of a healthy body. It determines vitamin and nutrient absorption which directly affects how your body uses food for fuel. This in turn affects how you look, think and feel. The human digestive system parts play a major role in your health.
In this post I will briefly explain how digestion works, give a list of signs to look for in healthy versus unhealthy digestion, and finally offer you tips on what YOU can do to improve your own digestive health.
How It ALL Works
Your digestive system is your gastrointestinal tract. It begins in the mouth and ends…well, you get the idea….out the ‘other’ end. It is comprised of your mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and rectum. (2) (3)These organs all work together beautifully to get food through the network of your gastrointestinal tract. It really is an incredible feat. To avoid being gross, I will keep things simple and basic.
Taking Your First Bite
Upon seeing delicious food, your eyes send messages to your stomach and begin to produce digestive juices. Our olfactory nerves in our nose detect whether or not you should eat the said food when you ‘smell the food’. How do we smell food? Interestingly, smelling is accomplished when we breathe in small minute molecules from said food that actually travel through the air.
After taking a bite, our salivary glands immediately go to work, breaking down our food. Saliva is pretty incredible. It contains natural painkillers to ease the fire-alarm system of our nerve-sensitive mouths. One of those painkillers, called opiorphin, is known to be even stronger than morphine. Among other things, saliva also contains a generous amount of beneficial microbes. That’s right, we have specific microbes that live in our mouth that protect us from bad bacteria entering the rest of our body.
Our saliva works together with the jaw, tooth enamel (the hardest substance made by your body) and tongue to prepare the food to be swallowed. After swallowing, the chewed food makes it’s way down your one-inch wide esophagus which is lined with immune tissue. The peripheral nervous system works in tandem with the unconscious autonomic nervous system to safely transport your chewed bite from the mouth to the stomach. Although this process of swallowing is automatic to us now, it was thoroughly rehearsed when we were unborn babies in our mother’s womb. Un-born babies will swallow up to one pint of amniotic fluid per day. This is the safest most ideal place to ‘practice’ swallowing with no concern of choking as the baby’s lungs are already filled with amniotic fluid. (1)
Entering the Stomach
Now our food enters the stomach. Your stomach sits fairly high in your abdomen, beginning below the left nipple and ending around the bottom of your right ribcage. Of course, you would expect your esophagus to enter into the top of the stomach but instead it enters somewhere into the stomach’s side. The shape of your stomach is somewhat lopsided as the right side is a little shorter than the left. One side digests liquids best while the other is responsible for handling the solids.
To Be Continued in Part 2…..
1. ENDERS, GIULIA. GUT: THE INSIDE STORY OF OUR BODY’S MOST UNDERRATED ORGAN. SCRIBE, 2015. PRINT (Book)
2. ‘THE GUT’ ARTICLE (SOURCE)
Image 2: OF DIGESTIVE TRACT SEE PAGE FOR AUTHOR [CC BY 4.0 (HTTP://CREATIVECOMMONS.ORG/LICENSES/BY/4.0)], VIA WIKIMEDIA COMMONS