In April, we started taking a look at the digestive system (how the food we each once broken down provides our body with the nutrients to maintain all its functions and the building blocks of everything in our body) and how it gets broken down with the help of enzymes in the stomach. We left off with our food in the stomach broken down and ready to continue its journey. So without further ado…
After the stomach has done all it can do to break down the food you’ve swallowed it is released into the duodenum which is the first part of the small intestine. Because of the HCL, the contents of your stomach are acidic and this is actually a good thing. Because only then will the acid stimulate the pancreas to release digestive enzymes (that help break down food more) and allow it to be absorbed/assimilated by the body. Another hormone (CKK) cholecystokinin is released into the blood while the food is in the duodenum which stimulates the release of insulin in the blood (more on this later) as well as more digestive enzymes and bile. These enzymes together with bile alkalinize (makes it less acidic) the chyme so digestion can continue to occur.
Bile is made in the liver (from cholesterol –Side note: your body produces all the cholesterol it needs) and its job is to mix in with the fats so they can be absorbed. This is also important so that fat-soluble vitamins (Vit A, D, E, K) can be absorbed and utilized. It breaks fat into tiny drops which then can be worked on by an enzyme released from the pancreas called lipase and it can more easily be absorbed. Problems can arise if there isn’t sufficient bile, fat is then either excreted in the stool or can contribute to constipation. This is because bile also helps with the peristalsis (moving the contents of the intestines forward) of both the small and large intestines.
The three main enzymes released by the pancreas to help break down food further are called protease (breaks down protein into amino acids), amylase (breaks down starches into simple sugars: glucose, fructose, and galactose) and lipase (which breaks down fat into fatty acids) as mentioned above.
As the chyme continues through the small intestine, the nutrients are absorbed through the wall of the small intestine which is covered in tiny hair-like extensions called villi which are themselves covered in even smaller extensions called microvilli (which is also known as the brush border.)
Next month: The liver, lymphatic system (the immune system and its role in digestion) and the large intestine.
[Please read: The Information provided for you in articles written by Nourish-Alō is for informational purposes only and not to be considered as medical advice. This information is not intended to diagnose, prescribe, treat, or cure any medical condition. Statements should not be taken as a substitute for medical advice from a licensed physician. It is recommended to consult with your physician before implementing any dietary or lifestyle changes and conditions of this disclaimer.]
*Image Credit www.niddk.nih.gov