The Ten Steps of Digestion

A complete explanation of what happens would take hundreds of pages to explain.  All of the nerves, muscles, enzymes, and chemical reactions....form a very complex and beautiful system.  If you are a scientist like me and must know the details, this explanation will not be satisfactory.

If you want a simplified detail of the path and functions that are easily understood, read on!  Please don't get bogged down by the information, you can understand this process.  

Path of Food in the Body 

1)  We chew and break down food with the help of saliva.  Acid begins to be released into the stomach in anticipation of food being ingested. 

2) As the food enters the esophagus, the muscles contract and push the food down into the stomach.  This takes mere seconds. 

3) In the stomach, hydrochloric acid breaks down the proteins with the help of pepsin. Any harmful pathogens are killed by the strong acid. 

4) Many Digestive Enzymes require a low ph (acid) in order to work more efficiently.   The broken down food mixed with the strong acid becomes what is known as chyme.  Imagine chyme as a liquid mess of the food that has been acted upon by the acid and enzymes.  Once thoroughly mixed by the churning action of the stomach muscles the chyme travels through a valve called the pyloric sphincter into the small intestine. 

5) Since the stomach ph is very acid, it needs to be raised to a more neutral state.  When the food begins to enter the small intestine, a hormone is released that stimulates the gall bladder to squeeze out a highly basic fluid called bile into the small intestine.  This neutralizes the chyme to a basic ph of about 9.   Ph 7 is neutral. 

6) The small intestine also generates a hormone that tells the pancreas to make sodium bicarbonate which also helps bring the ph of the chyme to a neutral state of 7 or a basic state of 9. When it reaches 7 more enzymes are released to break down the foodstuffs.  

7) The small intestine is protected by mucous.  Most digestive organs linings are protected by a mucous layer.  Without the mucous layer we would die.  Absorption of nutrients takes place through the walls of the small intestine. 

8) The food being processed then enters the three sections of the large intestine. 

9) The large intestine is where large amounts of liquid are reabsorbed. It is also here that fermentation occurs to digest food that cannot be digested by normal gut bacteria.    Gut bacteria are of utmost importance in digestion.  The large intestine is where probiotics come into play. 

10) The waste product and dead bacteria is then stored in the rectum until it is eliminated as feces.  Dead bacteria make   large proportion of our bowel movements. 

The Critical Digestive Areas 

Food is masticated in the mouth, acidified in the stomach, broken down and absorbed by the small intestine; fluids are reabsorbed in the large intestine, and then eliminated.  Hormones, enzymes, bacterium, and the nervous system all work in unison to make this happen. 

The critical areas we can work on by ourselves to cure digestive problems are: 

1) Take care in what we eat.  With so many varying opinions on what you should eat.  If something is not agreeing with your system, eliminate it and stick to agreeable foods. 

2) Watch carefully how we deal with stress.   Eliminate stress as much as possible. 

3) The intestinal bacteria and bacterial makeup of our bodies cannot be under emphasized.  We have more bacteria cells in our bodies than human cells.  That is how reliant we are on these small creatures.   There are hundreds of different types of bacteria all forming a balance, or imbalance.