What Really Happens To The Food You Eat
After we have eaten a meal -- and often we do this in a hurry, without much chewing, under a lot of stress, or in the presence of negative emotions -- we give no thought to what becomes of our food once it has been swallowed.
We have been led to assume that anything put in the mouth automatically gets digested flawlessly, is efficiently absorbed into the body where it nourishes our cells, with the waste products being eliminated completely by the large intestine.
This vision of efficiency may exist in the best cases but for most there is many a slip between the table and the toilet. Most bodies are not optimally efficient at performing all the required functions, especially after years of poor living habits, stress, fatigue, and aging.
To the natural hygienist, most disease begins and ends with our FOOD; most of our healing efforts are focused on improving the digestion process. Digestion means chemically changing the foods we eat into substances that can pass into the blood stream and circulate through the body where nutrition is used for bodily functions.
Our bodies use nutritional substances for fuel, for repair and rebuilding, and to conduct an incredibly complex biochemistry. Scientists are still busily engaged in trying to understand the chemical mysteries of our bodies.
But as bewildering as the chemistry of life is, the chemistry of digestion itself is actually a relatively simple process, and one doctors have had a fairly good understanding of for many decades.
Though relatively straightforward, a lot can and does go wrong resulting in digestion problems.
The body breaks down foods with a series of different enzymes that are mixed with food at various points as it passes from mouth to stomach to small intestine.
An enzyme is a large, complex molecule that has the ability to chemically change other large, complex molecules without being changed itself. Digestive enzymes perform relatively simple functions--breaking large molecules into smaller parts that can dissolve in water.
Digestion starts in the mouth when food is mixed with ptyalin, an enzyme secreted by the salivary glands. Ptyalin converts insoluble starches into simple sugars.
If the digestion of starchy foods is impaired, the body is less able to extract the energy contained in our foods, while far worse from the point of view of the genesis of diseases, undigested starches pass through the stomach and into the gut where they ferment and thereby create an additional toxic burden for the liver to process. And fermenting starches also create gas.
As we chew our food it gets mixed with saliva; as we continue to chew the starches in the food are converted into sugar. There is a very simple experiment you can conduct to prove to yourself how this works. Get a plain piece of bread, no jam, no butter, plain, and without swallowing it or allowing much of it to pass down the throat, begin to chew it until it seems to literally dissolve.
Ptyalin works fast in our mouths so you may be surprised at how sweet the taste gets. As important as chewing is, I have only run into about one client in a hundred that actually makes an effort to consciously chew their food...
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