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The Effort Of Digestion
Source: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor
Digestion is a huge, unappreciated task, unappreciated because few
of us are aware of its happening in the same way we are aware of
making efforts to use our voluntary muscles when working or
exercising. Digestion begins in the mouth with thorough chewing. If
you don't think chewing is effort, try making coleslaw in your own
mouth. Chew up at least half a big head of cabbage and three big
carrots that have not been shredded. Grind each bit until it
liquefies and has been thoroughly mixed with saliva. I guarantee
that if you even finish the chore your jaw will be tired and you
will have lost all desire to eat anything else, especially if it
Making the saliva you just used while chewing the cabbage is by
itself, a huge and unappreciated chemical effort.
Once in the stomach, chewed food has to be churned in order to mix
it with hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and other digestive enzymes.
Manufacturing these enzymes is also considerable work! Churning is
even harder work than chewing but normally, people are unaware of
its happening. While the stomach is churning (like a washing
machine) a large portion of the blood supply is redirected from the
muscles in the extremities to the stomach and intestines to aid in
this process. Anyone who has tried to go for a run, or take part in
any other strenuous physical activity immediately after a large meal
feels like a slug and wonders why they just can't make their legs
move the way they usually do. So, to assist the body while it is
digesting, it is wise to take a siesta as los Latinos do instead of
expecting the blood to be two places at once like los
After the stomach is through churning, the partially digested food
is moved into the small intestine where it is mixed with more
pancreatin secreted by the pancreas, and with bile from the gall
bladder. Pancreatin further solubilizes proteins. Bile aids in the
digestion of fatty foods. Manufacturing bile and pancreatic enzymes
is also a lot of effort. Only after the carbohydrates (starches and
sugars), proteins and fats have been broken down into simpler water
soluble food units such as simple sugars, amino acids and fatty
acids, can the body pass these nutrients into the blood thorough the
little projections in the small intestines called villi.
The leftovers, elements of the food that can't be solubilized plus
some remaining liquids, are passed into the large intestine. There,
water and the vital mineral salts dissolved in that water, are
extracted and absorbed into the blood stream through thin permeable
membranes. Mucous is also secreted in the large intestine to
facilitate passage of the dryish remains. This is an effort.
(Intestinal mucous can become a route of secondary elimination,
especially during fasting. While fasting, it is essential to take
steps to expel toxic mucous in the colon before the poisons are re
adsorbed.) The final residue, now called fecal matter, is squeezed
along the length of the large intestines and passes out the rectum.
If all the digestive processes have been efficient there now are an
abundance of soluble nutrients for the blood stream to distribute to
hungry cells throughout the body. It is important to understand the
process at least on the level of oversimplification just presented
in order to begin to understand better how health is lost or
regained through eating, digestion, and elimination. And most
importantly, through not eating.
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