The very first part of your digestion starts in your mouth. Contained within your saliva is digestive enzymes that start the breakdown of your food. It is therefore very important to chew your food properly so that the food can be broken down into smaller pieces, making digestion easier and also mixed thoroughly with your saliva. Larger pieces of food is excreted by the body whilst the smaller pieces can be absorbed easier and therefore insuring better nutrition. The secretion of saliva will also send a message to your stomach to start secreting acid in preparation for the food that it will be receiving soon. CHEW EACH MOUTHFULL AT LEAST 32 TIMES OR UNTILL TEXTURE IS LOST.
The job of the stomach is to grind/churn food down to small pieces that can be absorbed easily. The stomach releases a very important stomach acid called hydrochloric acid that is important for the breakdown of protein. Protein is an important building block of all the structures and organs in the body. Your body cannot repair or maintain these organs without protein. Contrary to popular belief 90% of people suffering from heartburn, gas and indigestion has too little stomach acid AND NOT TOO MUCH. This is especially true of those over 40 as acid production decreases with age. Stomach acid also stimulates the pancreas, gallbladder and small intestines to secrete enzymes.
THESE ORGANS ALL WORK TOGETHER LIKE AN ORCHESTRA, IF ONE MEMBER IS MISSING THE SONG IS JUST NOT THE SAME. Improper digestion of protein creates toxins in the intestines that creates acidic blood. Bad bacteria, yeast and parasites present in food and water are killed by stomach acid which is an important prevention of infection and disease. These bacteria upset the delicate balance of the bacterial flora in the gut which lowers immunity, affects mood and cognition, contributes to weight gain and plays a role in chronic fatigue. Leaky gut is another very common result of low stomach acid. If you battle digesting meat (nausea or tiredness after consuming meat), heartburn after meals, bloating or gas, food sensitivities or allergies or symptoms of nutrient deficiency you might have low stomach acid and it is essential that you seek treatment from your doctor.
THE WORST THING YOU CAN DO FOR YOUR STOMACH IS TO USE ANTACIDS LIKE RENNIES OR TAKE A PROTON PUMP INHIBITOR LIKE PANTOLOC, LOSEC OR NEXIAM! THEY WILL LOWER YOUR ACID EVEN MORE!!
The gallbladder is a tiny sack situated below and behind the gallbladder. Although small it play as very important role in digestion. It holds the bile that is produced by the liver till it is needed for digesting fatty foods in the first part of the small intestines. If the liver is overloaded with too many toxins like from too much use of alcohol, hormones, drugs, junk food as well as being constipated can cause bile to become thickened which clogs up the gallbladder and can form gallstones.
This can cause indigestion and bloating after eating and even acute gallbladder attacks. Any of the following symptoms might be because of a gallbladder problem: - bitter taste in the mouth
-bloating and nausea after eating a high fat meal
-Chronic reoccurring pain behind right shoulder blade
Bile salts, one component of bile is essential in stimulating your bowels to work, so sufficient bile is necessary to prevent constipation So if you are suffering from any menstrual irregularities or female problems as well as male hormone imbalances, get your gallbladder sorted out!
4. SMALL INTESTINES
The small intestines is a tube that carries food from the stomach to the colon. 90% of digestion and absorption of food occurs here, the remaining 10% in the stomach and large intestines. The main function of the intestines is absorption of nutrients and minerals from food. Millions of bacteria live in the small intestines, hopefully most of them good bacteria. It is therefore very important to make sure the environment is conducive for the good bacteria to grow. Things that can make the environment unfavourable is the use of antibiotics, stress, eating foods that cause allergy or sensitivity in the lining of the intestines, not having enough stomach acid therefore allowing bad bacteria to enter the intestines, a diet too high in carbohydrate providing “food “for the bad bacteria to eat. Symptoms of problems in your small intestines are:
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Food intolerance to gluten, dairy and sugar
- a Diagnosis of irritable bowel disease
5. LARGE INTESTINES
The major function of the large intestine is to absorb water from the remaining indigestible food and ELIMINATE THE WASTE FROM THE BODY via stools. No digestion or breakdown of nutrients take place here. It takes the colon 24 to 30 hours to complete the process. Bacteria in the large intestines, trillions of them, breaks down fibre from the food and produce large amounts of vitamins.
Probably the most important function of the large intestines is its function in producing antibodies. These antibodies protects the body against harmful pathogens. Many diseases can occur in the colon but cancer is the most feared of all.
Constipation is probably the most important symptom to consider in colon health and it is vital to make sure that a sufficient bowel movement is had on a daily basis. It is important to eat a fibre rich diet full of fruits and vegetables that are coloured, containing lots of anti-oxidants. In addition to immune cells, some hormones are manufactured in the large intestines including serotonin, a hormone that is essential in good mental health and can cause depression if too low.
As you can see each organ plays a vital role and if there is not a balance between all the organs of digestion, you might experience symptoms and even disease in you intestinal tract. Your health practitioner will be able to assist you in optimizing your digestive function with lifestyle changes as well as medications.
Dr Marike de Klerk
M.Tech Hom (UJ)