Digestion is an important biological process essential the proper functioning of all bodily systems and when impaired enzymes that breakdown disaccharides are located __________ often the root cause of many diseases. Good digestion of the foods we consume is imperative to the functioning of all bodily systems and is the basic determining factor that makes optimal nutrition possible. It has often been said “you are what you eat”, it would however be more accurate to say, “you are what you digest. This important biological function is essential for breaking down our foods and drinks into usable nutrients that our body can utilize for energy, growth and cellular repair. Understanding this natural process and learning how to work with it, instead of against it, can be a key component to overall health over the course of a lifetime.
Seemingly minor issues like flatulence, bloating, constipation, heartburn or indigestion can all be signs of gastrointestinal imbalance that, if not corrected, can potentially lead to more serious illnesses over time. Digestion is where is all begins. In Ayurvedic terminology, our digestive capacity is referred to as “digestive fire” or “agni”, which means ‘to ignite. Agni is one of the most important principles of Ayurveda, often called the “gatekeeper of good health” and in a broad sense refers to our ability to digest all aspects of life, on physical, enzyme past paper booklet mark scheme and spiritual levels. Jathara agni” is the central digestive fire that governs digestion of the foods we eat. In Ayurvedic medicine, there are many ways to strengthen and support one’s digestive fire and prevent common symptoms that frequently go unrecognized by many people. Digestion of the food we eat occurs in the “digestive tract” and begins from the moment we start chewing or masticating our food and ends when unneeded waste material is defecated as feces.
The digestive tract, composed of the gastrointestinal tract or GI tract, is basically a series of organs, primarily the stomach, small intestine and colon connected by a twisting tube that goes from the mouth to the rectum. Other secondary elements of digestion include the tongue, salivary glands, pancreas, liver and gallbladder. Digestion for humans begins in the mouth and continues throughout the gastrointestinal tract where larger insoluble food particles are transformed into smaller molecules of proteins, fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals as well as beneficial food-specific phytochemicals, like polyphenols and antioxidants. These smaller substances can then be absorbed into the blood plasma or bloodstream and distributed throughout the body to provide for our nutritional needs. Gut flora or microbiota in the GI tract, in addition to parts of the nervous and circulatory systems, also assist with digestion.
Working together in a combined effort with nerves, hormones, bacteria, blood and the organs of the digestive tract, the complex task of digesting the foods and liquids consumed each and every day is achieved on some level. When saliva is mixed with our food it helps to produce the catalytic enzyme called amylase which starts to break down food in the mouth. Lingual lipase is another digestive enzyme that is secreted by the salivary glands. Once food is swallowed it then moves through the esophagus where peristalsis begins to take place. This action produces involuntary muscular contractions that move the food toward the stomach organ and throughout the digestive tract. From the esophagus food moves through the sphincter into the stomach, located between the esophagus and the small intestine.
Here the food is mixed with more digestive enzymes as well as gastric juices or stomach acid. These molecules then pass through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream where they can be delivered and nutritionally utilized. Food usually arrives in the small intestine 1 hour after it is eaten, and 2 hours after the stomach has emptied. When the chyme is exhausted of its nutrients, the remaining waste material passes from the last section of small intestine, called the ileum, and changes into the semi-solid fecal matter which pass to the large intestine. This is where gut bacteria proceed to further break down residual proteins and starches. Any waste products of digestion pass through the large intestine and out of the body through the anus as a solid feces or stool. Carbohydrates – Groups of sugars, starches and cellulose. These are saccharides commonly divided into four categories: monosaccharides, disaccharides, oligosaccharides and polysaccharides. They consist of short to long chain sugars called simple or complex carbohydrates.
These are of fastest to digest and absorb. Protein – Protein-rich foods such as beans, nuts, seeds, meat, dairy eggs, green leafy vegetables are broken down into amino acids and absorb through the small intestine into the bloodstream. The transit time for protein digestion is normally somewhere between carbohydrates and fats. Fats – Healthy dietary fats are transformed into fatty acids and glycerol, they are necessary for proper hormonal and neurological functions. Fats digest at a much slower rate than sugars or proteins. Glutinous grains in the form of bread, pasta, crackers and baked goods. In addition, following some basic dietary practices can also help to improve acute or chronic digestive problems. Because different foods have different transit times, learning the rules of food combining, or what foods digest well with other foods, can be a basic and simple way to ensure the most efficient digestion of foods we eat. This can help to prevent many of the negative side-effects that may occur after meals, such as indigestion and flatulence.