The human digestive system1 is a complicated and impressive system. Understanding how the digestive system works helps us to eat healthier. Stay healthy by what you eat and keep your digestive system healthy.
When you eat food, the saliva mixes with the food. This is a very important process in preparing the food for the stomach. The salivary juices and enzymes help break down the food beginning the process of changing the food to the parts the body can utilize such as carbohydrates (disaccharides maltose, etc), proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals, etc.
Breakdown of Nutrients
When you take smaller bites and chew the food well before you swallow it, you help make the job of the stomach a little less difficult. The stomach is an amazing place where acids and enzymes work hard to kill bacteria, start the process of breaking food down into small molecules -nutrients the body can actually process such as carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins, etc.
The stomachs digestive juices include saliva, mucous, hydrochloric acid (HCl), enzymes, bicarbonate and bile. What ends up leaving the stomach and heads to the small bowel is chyme which is semi-digested food.
Human Digestive System1 -The Small Intestine
The body absorbs the molecules and nutrients that have been broken down, when it goes through the ileum (~5-7 feet long), which is the last section of the small intestine before it links to the large intestine. The villi lining the wall of the ileum help give a large surface for absorption.
Nutrients are absorbed through various ways including active transport, endocytosis, facilitative diffusion and passive diffusion.
Fatty acids, fat-soluble substances, monoglycerides and cholesterol are absorbed through simple diffusion.
Amino acids are absorbed through active absorption.
Sugars like fructose are absorbed with the help of carrier protein molecules.
Water and water-soluble substances are absorbed through osmosis. Water soluble nutrients leave the GI tract in the blood and travel through the portal vein to the liver and then to the heart.
The Body's Fuel + Nutrition
The nutrients that come from the food we eat and get broken down are absorbed into our body and then transported by the blood system and the lymph system to all the cells and organs in our body. The cells use these nutrients on the molecular level to give us the energy we need, the ability to heal, the fuel for our cells to do what they are supposed to do: like your heart beating!
When you smell food or think of food, this triggers the hormones and nervous system that coordinates digestion and absorption (like the brains behind it). If you are stressed or sick this can slow the process of digestion down.
The Large Intestine -The Colon
At the end of the digestion process, the waste products leave the small intestines with the help of fiber and enter the colon the large intestine. The colon reabsorbs water and the friendly bacteria helps process vitamins and nutrients. Any fiber or undigested food that does not get broken down is excreted in the stool. That is how the digestive system works in a nutshell!
You Are What You Eat!
There is so much more than we think about that goes into how food processes in the human digestive system1. The better we understand the process of how the digestive system works, the more realize the value of eating healthy and eating a balanced diet: vegetables, fruits, whole grains and fiber such as flax seed!
"Even at the full price the Cold Milled Flax is still cheaper than Metamucil or other fiber supplements that run about $12 for only 15 ounces! That's a great deal!" -K.A.
"Ellie, Thanks for your email. Just a short testament: Have been trying for years to get my cholesterol numbers to be on the healthy side. Got your flax at the farmers market this past summer and took your advice on consuming it. Had a blood test 2 weeks ago and my Cholesterol number is at 181, down from 262. Healthy eating and exercise: definitely the way to go. Thanks again."
-- Peter W.
"I have several health problems: Type 2 Diabetes + Constipation being my top complaints. When I was introduced to Golden Flax seed, I was drinking fiber daily + lived on Senna. I no longer have to buy Senna or fiber."
"My hot flashes were so bad and I had up to 3 or 4 times in the night. My sleep was interrupted, not to mention the embarrassment of breaking out in a sweat and a red face during conversations.... Oh boy, I have not had a hot flash for about 3 weeks."
"The best thing that happened is that it has really helped stabilize my blood sugar. When blood sugar is stable without a lot of peaks + valleys, it's easier to lose weight + I'm game for that."
-- Thanks, Sherrie