Can anyone tell me why I’m so obsessed with the GI tract?
No? Okay, I can’t explain it either.
Nonetheless, I am obsessed, and I do want to know every last thing about it so I can share with you because not many other people will.
Did you know?
- There are over 170 diseases that have been connected to gut health.
- 90% of all disease can be traced back to an unhealthy gut.
- The gut is the 2nd brain because it has more neurons than the spinal cord.
- 40% of the toxins from our food are neutralized by beneficial gut bacteria.
The best thing I heard during the Gut Health Course pre-course was this,
The gut is the seed of the soul.
Say again louder for those in the back!
And the best question I believe that was rhetorically asked was this,
Is gut bacteria the reason why two people can eat the same food and amounts, but one is overweight and the other is underweight?
You don’t have to ask me what my answer would be to that question because you already know.
The answer is,
YES! Gut bacteria is everything.
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GI tract stands for gastrointestinal tract. It consists of an upper and lower tract.
The upper GI tract is generally considered to be the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and finally the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). The lower GI tract runs from the small intestine to the large intestine (colon) to the anus.
During the first week of school (module 1), we studied the GI tract and complete digestive system process in full detail.
There are three phases of digestion that happen in the GI tract.
3 Phases of Digestion
This is the oral phase, and it includes everything that happens in the mouth, esophagus (which is about 8 inches long), and pharynx.
Bolus, which is your partially digested food at this point travels via the pathways via peristalsis (which I’ve talked about many times before), and then enters the stomach for the next phase of digestion.
In the gastric phase, food hits the stomach (which can hold 2-4 L of liquid).
This is the place where pathogens and unwanted bacteria are killed. It’s also where gastric juices continue to break down food. And a majority of protein is digested here.
Food, which was then bolus, is now chyme, and 2-3 teaspoons at a time filter into the small intestine.
In this last phase, the intestinal phase, carbs and fat are digested here.
Food travels through the small then large intestine and finally out through the rectum.
Did you know that the large intestine (also called the colon) is actually smaller than the small intestine, but double the width?
The 3 phases of digestion are quite the process, and that’s even considering that all of your pieces and parts are functioning at an optimal level.
Anyways, I have studied the digestive system a ton so even though this was all interesting to me, it was not nearly as interesting as the next section.
Mechanical and Chemical Digestion
What is the difference between mechanical and chemical digestion? And what are they even?
Mechanical digestion is the physical action of mashing food and breaking it into smaller parts.
Chewing your food is actually called mastication. Peristalsis is the the wavelengths that push the food through the GI tract.
Chemical digestion is the transformation of food into smaller molecules by digestive enzymes.
And here is where we talked all about the three main digestive enzymes: amylase, protease, and lipase.
Now, I have written about digestive enzymes HERE before.
But studying it now helped make it all so much more clear.
There are three things I’m more certain of now than ever before:
- We (me included) do not spend enough time chewing our food prior to swallowing it. For just one meal, try chewing each bite of food 20-30 times prior to swallowing. Make note after you’re done eating on anything you noticed. If you’ve never done it before, I’m guessing that list might be quite lengthy.
- Digestive enzymes – for the Gutsy women – are critical.
- If you have IBS and/or IBD something is definitely missing from either/both the mechanical and chemical pieces of your digestive process.
Kind of loving this. And I hope you will enjoy the fruits of my labor.
Remember, you, too, can get in on all this gut health knowledge. If you are an IIN graduate, sign up. You are eligible for the Gut Health Course as long as you are even just enrolled in the regular program. Click HERE to learn more about the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. When you sign up, just make sure to mention your Gutsy BFF, Sarah Kay Hoffman.
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You will heal. I will help.