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What you eat is actually only the raw material of what in reality feeds you. In order to nourish you, the food that you ingest needs to be broken down and transformed into bioavailable substances. Materials are broken down as they move through the digestive tract through the power of digestive enzymes. The digestive system contains several organs through which food travels: the mouth, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, and large intestine and also includes other organs, such as the pancreas, liver, and gall bladder; all release enzymes and other compounds that are necessary for digestion but also for restoration.
The secretion of enzymes from one individual to another is not equal and it fades with aging. At the root of every function, action and reaction happening in your body are enzymes. There are either metabolic or digestive enzymes. We cannot supplement metabolic enzymes but we can with digestive enzymes by taking food enzymes. By doing so you release the body from the burden of secreting digestive enzymes and allow it to invest his power in fueling your metabolic functions. Yes! Everyone should be supplementing with enzymes!
Both mechanical and chemical digestion begin in the mouth. The teeth break food into small pieces. The lips and tongue position food so that you can chew. When food is in your mouth, salivary glands in your mouth release enzyme filled saliva, which softens the food and begins digestion. The tongue pushes the food to the back of the mouth and down the throat while swallowing.
When you swallow, your tongue pushes food down into your throat. Food then travels down the esophagus to the stomach. The muscle contractions of peristalsis move solid food from the throat to the stomach in about eight seconds. Liquid foods take about two seconds.
Strong muscles in the stomach further mix and mash food particles. More enzymes and some acidic chemicals are secreted in the stomach mostly to break down proteins. Some of these chemicals are so acidic that they could eat through the stomach itself. For this reason, the cells of the stomach’s lining are replaced about every three days, and the stomach lining is coated with mucus.
At this early stage, food has partially been digested and moves from the stomach to the small intestine. There, more enzyme fluids are released by the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder to break down even more nutrients. Most of the nutrients broken down in digestion are absorbed in the blood through the villi that are covering the small intestine’s walls. These villi structures contain folds that absorb nutrients from proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Once absorbed by the villi, nutrients are transported by the circulatory system throughout the body.
In the large intestine, water, electrolytes and some other nutrients are reabsorbed from what’s left from the digested material but most of the solid material will be remaining as a waste material, which will be compacted, stored and eventually eliminated through the rectum and anus by what is commonly called a bowel movement.
The digestive organs not in the digestive tract—the liver, gallbladder, and pancreas—also play crucial roles in your body. Although food does not move through them, all three of these organs play major roles in digestion by producing or concentrating important digestive fluids and enzymes.
Located between the stomach and the small intestine, the pancreas is the main organ responsible for the secretion of enzymes. The pancreas produces the enzymes to breaks down proteins, fats, and starch. These enzymes are extremely important for digesting and absorbing food substances. Without these, you would die of starvation, even with plenty of food in your system. Your body would simply not be able to process and use the food for energy without the pancreas.
The liver—the largest internal organ of the body—is located on the lower right side of your ribcage. Among its hundreds of functions, the liver filters blood, cleansing it of harmful substances, stores unneeded nutrients for later use in the body and also produces a golden yellow-greenish substance called bile, which is made to break down fats, much like the way soap breaks down oils. Like any filters, the liver requires some regular maintenance.
The gallbladder is a tiny pear-shaped sac connected to the liver. Bile produced in the liver is stored and concentrated in the gallbladder. The bile, a very alkaline substance in nature balances the pH of the very acidic matter coming out of the stomach, is then secreted into the small intestine’s portion called the duodenum.