You may be wondering why it’s important to obtain a good overview of Body Systems. The answer is pretty simple:
Knowing how the body works (e.g.: physiology) and how nutrition works with the physiology of the body can be the key we need to unravel the mysteries of why we feel less than 100 percent.
My goal is to keep this information as brief as possible while relaying as much info as I can so you can better understand why the body can balance itself, given the right environment in which to do so.
Let’s start with two simple definitions because you’ll need these throughout this overview of Body Systems.
- Anatomy: involves the location and identification of the parts of the body
- Physiology (a tad more in-depth than above): involves activity of the various organs, tissues, and cells of the body
Let’s begin this journey with the Digestive Tract.
The Digestive Tract
Here’s the thing … when we chew and swallow food, we all know it lands in the stomach. But what happens after that?
The Alimentary Canal is the path food takes as it passes through the human body. This Canal consists of the:
- Pharynx (throat)
- Esophagus (gullet)
- Small Intestine
- Large Intestine
This means the steak you ate for dinner is going to be working it’s way through your body while you sleep. Since our sleep time is the time the body repairs itself, perhaps eating earlier instead of later can help the body focus on repair instead of digestion. It’s just common sense.
But how do we know how long it takes food to pass through the body?
Let’s break down the average time it takes for the food we eat to travel it’s pathway through the digestive tract:
- Mouth: voluntarily controlled
- Pharynx (throat): less than one second (pharynx is pronounced ‘fair-nix’)
- Esophagus (gullet): less than 10 seconds (esophagus is pronounced ‘ē-sof-a-gus’)
- Stomach: three to four hours
- Small Intestine: up to five hours
- Large Intestine: 12 to 36 hours
- Rectum: voluntarily controlled
- Anus: voluntarily controlled
OK, great. We know that food moves through the body and we know about how long food remains in the digestive tract. But we also know the food we put into our mouths and what comes out on the other end aren’t the same thing.
Only they are very much related to each other. The next step is to know what happens to the food as it travels along the digestive tract.
What Does the Digestive System Process?
The digestive system processes carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and they are assimilated into the bloodstream. The digestive system uses both chemical ad mechanical means to accomplish this task.
- The digestion of fats does not begin until the small intestine after having been mixed with bile salts from the liver and gallbladder. This chemical change makes fats water-soluable so they can flow through the bloodstream.
- Carbohydrates begin to be digested in the mouth where they contact a starch-digesting enzyme in the saliva. The digestion of carbohydrates is completed in the small intestine when they are broken down into simple sugars after being mixed with pancreatic enzymes in the small intestine.
- Proteins are broken down into amino acids as a result of hydrochloric acid (HCL) and pepsin in the stomach and pancreatic enzymes in the small intestine.
Why does any of this matter? Because your holistic health education requires a foundation on which to build. The digestive system and what it processes will be your foundation.
Next, we’ll start at the beginning of the Alimentary Canal, the mouth.
In His Grace,
Catherine Smith, ND LMT
Louisiana Massage License _____