A Simple (ish)

Guide To 

Digestion...

Image by Jan Kahánek

Most of us know where our food starts and ends up….

 

But what happens in the middle? 

 

So let's start at the beginning … 

 

THE BRAIN.

 

This might be not what you thought would be first. But how many of you have thought about a certain food type and felt your mouth begin to fill with more saliva than usual?

 

New research has outlined that there is a direct connection between your gut and your brain. In fact, they are constantly sending signals to each other depending on the level of hormones and other chemicals. 

 

So you know when you said “ah I just feel like a bar of chocolate”... there may be some merit to that madness. However, we often conceptualise our cravings incorrectly to what our brains signals actually are for (but that's for another time). 

 

Once you have decided what to eat based on these signals, we move to the next component of the digestive system… 

 

THE MOUTH.

 

Everyone knows the mouth is key to everything that we eat.

 

So let’s start with ‘mastication’. Yes you read it correctly.

 

Mastication = chewing. Because scientists couldn't just use the word chew right? 

 

So as we chew, salivary glands within our mouth begin to release enzymes that are used to break down each of the macronutrients.

 

Carbs = Amylase breaks down = starch = maltose 

Fats = lipase = only a small amount as fat digestion takes longer. 

 

Importantly, chewing triggers a chain reaction for the rest of the system. As through chewing our stomach then begins to produce digestive acids, mucus, enzymes and bile so that it is ready for the incoming food.

 

Chewing has received a lot of attention in the past years due to its often overlooked importance in the digestive system. Research from Miquel-Kergoat (2015) showed that chewing your food more resulted in increases in the relevant hormones needed for that food AND has been linked to subjective satiety. 

 

So you have chewed your food.. 

 

Now onto the…

 

OESOPHAGUS

 

The oesophagus is the link between the mouth and the stomach.

 

Next is the…

 

STOMACH

 

We all probably think this is where it ALLLLL happens. But the stomach is not an absorptive organ. It is purely for the churning and saturating of the food you eat with enzymes. 

 

The food then moves into the 

 

SMALL INTESTINES 

 

The small intestines have a very unique and impressive structure that has evolved specifically for its function. 

 

The small intestines have ‘Microvilli’ that are on their surface. These act to increase the surface area of the intestine wall to facilitate in the diffusion, absorption and secretion of nutrients bath and forth through the intestine. 

 

The small intestine can be broken down into 3 distinct sections: 

 

Duodenum

Jejunum

Heum

 

Throughout this area of the system, enzymes such as lipase for fat, amylase for carbs and protease for protein all work to breakdown your food's macronutrients. 

 

Then, what's left gets passed into the…

 

LARGE INTESTINES or COLON

 

Here, what is left in terms of minerals and vitamins gets absorbed as best it can. 

 

The majority of our ‘gut flora’ lives here. The gut flora in itself is a whole different article, but it has a huge impact on our health. Research is still developing on this topic so I will write one when we all know what's actually going on!

 

Then we move onto the bit we all know and have no reason to discuss on my website!

 

So why does it help to know these stages?

 

So that if you have any issues or areas that you want to learn more about.

 

As you can see from the pretty lengthy article, the digestive system is VERY complex and you only really need to know so that you can improve your eating and digestive habits.

 

Keep your eyes peeled for more articles on the Gut Flora and much more!

The Next Steps

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So you like the info on here? You have applied it to your lifestyle but you want that extra support? And to take reaching your goals to another level?