Digestion: A quick and dirty guide



Like forreals though

So it’s really exciting, studying the kind of nutrition where I can make these kinds of recommendations. I mean, probably not a whole stick of butter, but a really nice size dollop of that grass-fed butter would rock. After years of chronically obsessing over calories and fat content, it’s refreshing to finally be told, “don’t even worry about that shit!” No really. It’s awesome.

So my favorite topic thus far has been digestion and holy hell, it’s a good one. So, for those looking to know a little more about how the digestive system operates, I put together a quick and dirty guide via organs (since digestion works from north to south):

1. Digestion begins in the BRAIN. That moment we think, “oh hey! I’m hungry! I’m going to eat,” that’s the moment digestion begins. Blood starts being redirected to you digestive organs, you begin salivating, and your body starts gearing up for a full on explosion of new nutrients coming in.

2. Food enters through the MOUTH. That place we chew things. We also begin breaking down carbohydrates via saliva (or salivary amylase for you nutrition nerds) .

3. Food than passes along the ESOPHAGUS. Food that has been chewed up and now swallowed is renamed as bolus. Bolus now moves it’s way down, epic slide-style, towards you stomach for a full-on acid bath. There ain’t much happening in the esophagus other than transportation.

4. Food then enters the STOMACH. At this point, food moves it’s way down through the esophagus, through the stomach door, the cardiac sphincter. When bolus enters the stomach, shit starts getting real. At this stage, gastric juices such as hydrochloric acid (HcL) begin breaking down food into very small pieces and pepsinogen begins breaking down proteins into smaller pieces. Key note here: ACID IS HELLA IMPORTANT. When gastric juice flood the stomach, you want your pH levels to be down around 0.8 (i.e. almost pure acid). This is needed to break down food properly and kill any harmful stuff like bad bacteria and parasites so it doesn’t enter the small intestine. At this point, the bolus is churned into chyme, a pea-like highly acid soup.

5. Chyme makes its way into the DUODENUM. Once the stomach has done it’s job, the chyme leaves the stomach through its other door (the pyloric sphincter) and enters the duodenum, the upper part of the small intestine. When the super acidic chyme enters here, the acidity detected tells the small intestines to secrete mucus and 2 hormones, CCK and secretin. Secretin tells the pancreas to release pancreatic juices and bicarbonate (to bring pH levels back up to around neutral), and CCK tells the gallbladder to release bile. Fats begin breaking down, and proteins and carbohydrates continue their process of breaking down into pieces small enough for absorption.

6. The chyme continues down the SMALL INTESTINE. The jejunum and ileum are the parts of the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed and pass into the blood stream to be utilized all over our body. This happens with the help of villi and microvilli, finger-like projections that increase surface area help to rapidly absorb the good stuff. Anything that doesn’t get absorbed (such as bile, water, indigestible fibers, etc.) moves down through the base of the ileum through the ileocecal sphincter (the opening to the large intestine).

7. The remains of chyme enter LARGE INTESTINE. This is where things (such as bile) are recycled, where good bacteria is fed, and waste is collected and eliminated.

TA-DA! Digestion!


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