Digestion and absorption are essential to good nutrition. These processes determine how food is used to fuel the body.
Optimal health depends greatly on the proper functioning of the digestion and absorption processes. Macronutrients and micronutrients alike travel through the digestive system, where they are broken down into their most rudimentary elements and sent to where they are needed most.
The processes of digesting and absorbing vary by nutrient.
Let’s understand each step in detail:
Before food is even consumed, the digestive system starts working, stimulated by the senses. Smelling appetizing food can trigger the mouth to start watering and the stomach to start churning. The brain is letting the body know that food is coming.
Actual digestion begins with the mouth. Chewing up food begins the mechanical process of breaking food down into its most basic components. Enzymes in the saliva begin the chemical process of breaking down food. Saliva begins to break down only carbohydrates, not other nutrients.
The stomach receives the chewed food and begins its own mechanical process of churning the food, breaking it down into smaller pieces and moving it through the digestive system. It also releases enzymes, hydrochloric acid, and mucus, which help chemically further break down food.
The small intestine then takes this mostly broken down food and breaks it down even further, into each nutrient’s most basic components. Carbohydrates are broken down into glucose, galactose and fructose, fats into fatty acids and glycerol, protein into amino acids and individual vitamins and minerals are extracted.
The liver is the second largest organ in the body (about the size of a football) and it receives most nutrients from the small intestines. The liver produces bile to break down nutrients, makes protein, stores glucose and detoxifies useful nutrients from harmful substances found in food or the environment.
Digestive enzymes from the gall bladder and pancreas are released to break down nutrients and aid the process of nutrient absorption. The pancreas also produces insulin, an important hormone for processing sugar in the body and for signaling cells to absorb nutrients.
The large intestine is responsible for the final stages of digestion and getting rid of waste. Water, sodium, chloride, potassium, vitamin K, biotin and short chain fatty acids are all absorbed in the large intestine. This is also where probiotics live and function. Eventually, waste is excreted as feces.
For this process, provide a potent array of the digestive enzymes like amylase, protease and lipase enzymes that are designed to adapt to a variety of stomach acid pH conditions and provide powerful digestion.