Digest This – With Your GI Tract
A Healthy GI Tract
Trouble with your tummy. No trouble – just pop an antacid, down some pinky milk of magnesia or quaff down a handful of other such medications.
That’s what our world has been reduced to. Try for a quick fix. But here’s the problem: quick fixes don’t work. You need to get to the root of the problem to remedy the situation. Once you learn how your gastrointestinal tract works you will be able to take good and loving care of it and in the process have it work well for you, saving you the pain of heartburn – oops, it’s called acid reflux these days, indigestion and all those inglorious reactions like bloating, gas, constipation or conversely ‘the runs’.
How Your GastroIntestinal Tract (GI) Works
Our GI tract begins in our mouths and ends at the anus. Tasting, chewing, mashing, grinding up – that’s what our teeth, tongue and taste buds are for. We need to use them well. When your food is well-chewed you are halfway to a good and healthy gut. Let me show you why.
Let’s take a mouthful of steak. Your teeth grind this morsel of meat until it becomes mush. Saliva, with its various enzymes, start to break the beef down until it is swallowed down the esophaghus. This 10-inch long tube secretes mucus to coat the chewed-up morsel and sends it to the stomach through something called peristalsis which are muscular contractions.
Once in the stomach your mushy food is dowsed with
- hydrochloric acid (HCL)
- pepsin which is a digesting enzyme
- gastrin which is a hormone that regulates the amount of acid produced
- lipase which helps to digest fats.
Food then leaves the stomach through the duodenum.
Danger of not chewing your food
If you are one of those who swallows rather than chews their food, those large pieces find it very difficult to squeeze through the duodenum. They can cause the food to back up and forces your stomach and duodenum to work extra hard.
Out of the duodenum and on to the pancreas. This vital organ secretes insulin to regulate your sugar levels, among a few other things and then hurries the food on to the liver. Here bile is added to the chyme (what the partially-digested food is now called) so that the stomach acids are neutralized.
On to the small intestine where 90% of the nutrients from that morsel of steak is squeezed out and absorbed. Once again, enzymes digest, proteins morph into amino acids, fats change into fatty acids and carbs are converted into simple sugars.
Into the large intestine or colon goes what’s left of that bite of meat. If you had not chewed this morsel thoroughly it would now be sitting in this tube fermenting and putrefying and causing you gas and pain. Ugh!
Finally, that particle of food moves through the colon where moisture is extracted from it and it gets ready to leave your body as fecal matter.
There, in a nutshell, is what happens to your bite of steak.
Chew well and think of what your food is going through while in your gastrointestinal tract.