The Highway Of Life: Your Digestive Tract
If you do not know how to drive on this highway, you may have a fatal crash.
So put yourself in the driver’s seat and get ready to learn where the majority of your immune system lives and where the fate of your life resides.
Digestion is a physical and chemical process.
The digestive tract is 25 to 30 feet long and will process 60,000 to 100,000 pounds of food during one lifetime.
Four Primary Functions Of The Digestive Tract Are:
- Secretion: Producing digestive enzymes and preparing food for adsorption.
- Motor/Peristaltic Movement: Transporting food through the digestive system from the front door to the back door.
- Absorption: Assimilation of nutrients released through digestion.
- Elimination of toxic waste products.
Before explaining your amazing digestive tract, I would like to say that it is not how much you eat, but the real importance is what you eat. But the reality is, it’s not JUST what you eat, but what you DIGEST.
Most people have an ineffective, congested, toxic digestive tract filled with a thick mucoprotein, which is not capable of breaking down foodstuffs properly.
Most people digest only 2/10 of their food.
However, with Gentle Daily Cleansing and introducing a Whole Plant Based Diet, digestion is increased to 8/10 or more because of their improved digestive capabilities and restored immune system.
Just the sight, smell or thought of food can trigger the digestive process. Salivation is the first response. Saliva from the sublingual and sub-maxillary glands is produced in the mouth and it contains ptyalin, which changes some of the starches in the food to sugar.
The selection of raw, fresh and whole food is the most important factor. The next factor is proper food combining.
Do not make the mistake that most make: To have 4 inches of pleasure (that slice of pizza) for 30 feet of hell (that slice going through your digestive tract). This can be a very bumpy highway.
Where Does Digestion Start, Or Better Still, When?
There are six salivary glands, three on each side of the face. Salivary secretion is normally a reflex of psychic and physical stimuli. The enzyme in saliva is called ptyalin and is an amylase, which acts on starch. It also helps trigger gastric juices and makes the passage of food through the esophagus (throat) smoother.
Food taken in is broke into small particles by the teeth. The more one chews his food, the smaller the particles. The smaller the particles, the easier it becomes for the enzymes to work on the breaking down of trapped nutrients. Before swallowing, we must chew our food thoroughly or digestion becomes incomplete before we have even started.
There is a saying that I live by to ‘Live Healthy To 100′, “drink your solids and chew your liquids.”
The next process is swallowing our food. The food we are swallowing is called a bolus because of its ball-like shape. As the tongue pushes the bolus back into the throat, we stop breathing. The epiglottis – otherwise trap door – automatically closes the larynx, a funnel-shaped structure leading to the esophagus. The esophagus is the passageway to the stomach. When the esophagus is empty it is flattened from front to back. It is 10″ long and attaches the pharynx to the stomach.
The esophagus, like the rest of the digestive tract, has layers of circular and vertical muscles that produce a squeezing, rippling action called peristalsis. Peristalsis is similar to the movement of a snake. Food takes 10 seconds to go from the throat to the stomach. Have you noticed you can swallow food and minutes later have or feel like you could have a bowel movement? This is called the ripple effect and is normal in babies and adults with healthy digestive tracts.
The stomach is a pear-shaped elastic bag that can hold up to 2.5 pints of food when moderately filled, but it can hold 5 pints when full. We must avoid overloading the stomach; this is a silent killer for most of the population.
The stomach has two main purposes, which are storage and preliminary digestion. Food remains in the stomach for 2 to 4 hours but very little nutrient absorption takes place in the stomach. The digestive liquids in the stomach are hydrochloric acid, pepsin and renin and are the chemical part of digestion. The bolus is then broken down by a chemical and physical action like that of a washing machine.
The physical action created by the stomach is created by the musculature called ruggae. The ruggae’s contract the bolus (swallowed food) down into what we call chyme (liquid found in the stomach). These digestive liquids help to break the food down into small components, which neutralize the salivary juices and kill most harmful bacteria and parasites. A healthy stomach is like a guard dog against unwelcome invaders.
The stomach has 3 layers of muscles contracting in different directions, which also aids the breaking down of the bolus.
Carbohydrates will leave the stomach in less time than proteins or fats because these substances are harder to digest.
As food leaves the stomach it reaches the pyloric sphincter muscle valve. This muscle regulates the flow of chyme into the duodenum allowing only small amounts of food in at a time. The length from the pyloric sphincter to the anus is 6 times longer than its owner. The horseshoe duodenum makes up the first 10 inches of the small intestine.
There are 3 parts to the small intestine: The duodenum, jejunum and the ileum. The length of the small intestine is 23 feet or 7 meters in length. It begins at the pyloric sphincter, which is at the bottom of the stomach and ends at the Ileocecal valve, the beginning of the large intestine.
The diameter of the small intestine at the pyloric sphincter is 1-3/8 inches or 4 centimeters and at the Ileocecal valve it is 1 inch or 2.5 centimeters.
Food is mixed with an alkaline solution when in the mouth. It becomes acid in the stomach, and then alkaline in the small intestine and slightly acid in the colon. The chyme entering the duodenum is full of hydrochloric acid, which is neutralized by alkaline digestive liquids. The hormone secretion is released by the duodenum and jejunum due to the stimulation of hydrochloric acid. This secretion helps to release the flow of bile and pancreatic liquids, which in turn further the breakdown of chyme, preparing it for absorption into the lymphatic system and portal vein. Pancreatic liquids coming from the pancreas are protease for proteins, lipase for fats and amylase for starches. Bile is produced by the liver, stored in the gall bladder and dumped into the small intestine for the breakdown of fats. Bile prepares the fats so that the enzyme lipase can complete its digestion. Trypsin completes the digestion of proteins, and amylopsin completes the digestion of starches in the small intestine.
The small intestine has hair like tentacles (villi), which stick out of the intestinal wall. These hair-like tentacles are responsible for the movements and the absorption of the smaller food particles and nutrients.
For every square inch of intestinal wall, there are 3,500 villi. An improper diet can destroy these hair-like structures, which therefore destroy the potential for nutrient absorption; this can lead to premature death.
Chemicals, additives, hot drinks, fatty foods, fried foods, starches, sugar, processed foods, pharmaceutical drugs (antibiotics) and alcohol are all destructive to villi. Destruction of villi can lead to major intestinal complications.
The peristaltic action is the alternate contraction and relaxation of the intestinal muscle tissue. This action breaks up and transports food and occurs every 2 to 3 seconds in the small intestine but slows down, as we get closer to the Ileocecal valve, which is the one-way door to the large intestine.
The villi take the nutrients, separating, categorizing and distributing them. The lymphatic’s carry the fat away from the digestive system, and the blood vessels transport digestive protein and carbohydrates to the liver. The leftover acid residue spilling over into the large intestine aids the prevention of putrefactive bacteria. After digestion is complete in the small intestine, the digested food moves through a one-way valve called the Ileocecal valve, at the beginning of the large intestine. This valve helps to prevent back up of bad bacteria, parasites and putrefactive material from entering the ileum.
The cecum is 2 1/8 inches or 6 centimeters in length and 3 inches or 7 ½ centimeters wide. The cecum is very tenacious; and it is the toughest part of the colon. This is a major breeding ground for parasites. The length of the large intestine is 5-7 feet long.
The main function of the large intestine is the formation and excretion of feces from the body. There are two parts to the large intestine – the right and left half. The right half – includes the cecum, ascending and half way across the transverse part – is concerned with the completion of digestion and absorption of food. The left half -includes the left side of the transverse, descending, sigmoid and rectum – is responsible for storage and excretion of the intestinal debris. The undigested food that may escape through the Ileocecal valve is broken down in the ascending and right side of the transverse colon. Water is readily absorbed by the colon, which is excreted 20 minutes later by the kidneys. As the debris reaches the mid-way point of the transverse, it loses its fluid-like consistency and turns into a semi mush-like substance.
The ascending colon is approximately 8 inches or 20 centimeters in length and it precedes the cecum. It passes in front of the right kidney and below the liver and gallbladder, where it becomes the hepatic flexure, which turns into the transverse colon running across the abdomen, from right to left under the stomach. The transverse colon is approximately 20 inches or 40 to 50 centimeters long and runs to the splenic flexure. When the debris reaches the splenic flexure it is a semi solid. At the splenic flexure the colon makes a right angle going downward towards the left hip. When food reaches the halfway point of the descending colon, which is in line with your belly button, it is in a solid state in front of the left kidney. The descending colon is approximately 10 to 12 inches or 25 to 30 centimeters in length. From the descending colon, the debris enters the sigmoid, which is approximately 16 inches or 40 centimeters long. The sigmoid is horseshoe in shape, making a right turn into the groin region. From the sigmoid the debris enters the rectum, which is approximately 4 to 5 inches or 10 to 12 centimeters in length. The diameter of the rectum, when empty, is 2 inches or 5 centimeters. When full its diameter is 3 to 4 inches or 7 ½ to 10 centimeters. There are two sphincters in the rectum; these are the internal and external sphincters. These sphincters control the outlet and inlet of the anal canal. The internal sphincter, you do not control, it is involuntary and the external is voluntary, which you do control.
The feces are made up of waste from the blood, mucus, epithelium tissue, bacteria and undigested residue of food.
Colon Function And Digestion
The colon is an endocrine organ; it directly influences the activity of the pancreas and other organs of digestion. Gentle daily cleansing helps to establish and maintain proper balance in the process of secretion, digestion and detoxification.
The major absorption function of the colon is found to be the conservation of water; however, recent animal and human studies indicates that short chain fatty acids, ammonia, and other bacteria metabolites are also absorbed. The amount absorbed is linked to the salt and water absorption, bowel habits, excretion of toxic substances and metabolism.
On the average, 20 ounces of digested food pass into the colon each day.
About 16 ounces of this is water and minerals, which should be absorbed into the bloodstream, but this is not the case in the majority of the population. The majority of the population absorbs excessive amounts of toxins and putrefactive material due to lack of proper knowledge on daily maintenance and cleansing to protect the organ that houses the majority of your immune system, this being the large intestine.
So now that you understand the importance of this highway, put yourself in the driver’s seat to become the Master of your health and you will finally have the trip of a lifetime filled with joy and bliss.