Everyone used to know and value the importance of good digestion.
We used to know that our food is our fuel, and we used to place a heavier weighting on this fact.
It seems that as we have become busy and our food has become convenient, we have become too complacent with our capabilities, and ignore the old adage that good health starts in the guts.
Let’s go back to the basics, and examine the digestive system;
- Digestion starts in the mouth! Chew your food. Amylase, the main digestive enzyme found in saliva, starts the breakdown of starch and glycogen into smaller fragments of linked glucose molecules in the mouth– if you chew a piece of bread for a few minutes it will begin to taste sweet as sugars are released.
- 70% of your body’s immune system is located in the digestive tract. A poor digestive system can not only relate to bloating and heartburn, but also relate to auto-immune conditions, poor immune system and longer colds and ’flus.
- Even though you may eat healthy foods, it is up to the function of the digestive system to break down and absorb the food. This is necessary for those quality nutrients to actually enter the body and provide their benefits.
- The wall of your digestive system is one of the body’s first lines of defence. It can be likened to your skin – it is the barrier between the internal and external environment, choosing what is ‘allowed’ to enter the body.
- Unlike a cut to the skin, you cannot put a bandage or put antiseptic on any damage to the digestive walls – Whilst there is damage to the digestive walls, there is a constant, significant weakness in the body’s defences, significantly impacting on health.
- Irregular, sluggish or hard bowel motions can result in toxins and waste products being re-absorbed back into the body. This not only places extra pressure on the body’s elimination pathways, but it leaves you feeling sluggish, heavy and drained.
- There is an estimated 100 trillion which is approx. 2kg worth of different bacteria within the digestive system. These bacteria play various significant roles within the body, including synthesising vitamins, breaking down molecules, defending against foreign bacteria, developing and supporting the immune system as well as aiding the maintenance of the ‘first line of defence’.
- The stomach usually empties completely within four hours after a meal. However, the larger the meal and the more liquid it contains, the faster the stomach empties.
- Fats take longer to pass through the stomach. A fatty meal can take up to 6 hours to move through the stomach – this suggests that a meal with some good fats in it keeps your appetite satisfied for longer.
- Food takes 3-6 hours to get through the small intestines. It is in the small intestines that absorption of most of the water and virtually all the nutrients is done almost exclusively via enzymes created by the liver and pancreas. Anything that impairs liver or pancreas function severely hinders your ability to digest food and absorb nutrients.
- Your body has two brains. Gut intuition is becoming less whimsical, and more scientific. Not only do your brain and your digestive system work in close partnership, but your digestive system is made up of a tremendous amount of nerve cells regulated by neurotransmitters. Just like the brain in your head!
- Your stomach starts releasing stomach acids BEFORE food enters the stomach. This reaction is triggered by the smell, taste, sight or thought of food (but only food that is appealing). Ever wondered why you suddenly feel like takeaway after watching a food ad, or decide you’re hungry after walking past a delicious smelling restaurant?
- Flatulence gets its smell from bacteria! Have you heard of your ‘microbiome’? Your good and bad bugs work for you, or against you. Do you have smelly farts? Consider your bugs!
You choose what you put into your mouth. It is up to you and the ability of your digestive system to provide your body with all its fuel and nourishment. What are you planning to eat today?