Why do we need to eat? Where does the food go?
Such questions illustrate the importance of food and digestion in our lives. However, digestion is still a vaguely understood topic, even for many adults. To fully comprehend what our bodies do with the food we eat, it is necessary to take a look at the organs responsible for the process: the digestive system.
What is the digestive system?
All the solid food we consume passes through the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, which consists of various organs linked together that each has a role in the digestive process. This tract starts with the mouth, includes the stomach and intestines, and ends with the anus. This is why the organs comprising the GI tract are also referred to collectively as the digestive system.
Because of its role in keeping us alive and well, it is important that we maintain a healthy digestive system. This is why a GI doctor has very significant responsibilities. In Salem, Utah, and throughout the country, many clinics already offer services to help treat digestive problems or improve one’s digestive system.
What does the digestive system do?
First, the digestive system is where the food we eat gets broken down. Acids in the stomach and intestines chemically break down the food into its simplest form for it to be usable by the body. During the breakdown process, vitamins and minerals are also extracted, and these flow to the bloodstream.
Hence, if there is no food that enters the body for an extended period of time, the organs will send signals to the brain for the need for the breakdown process to be completed again. This signal is made known to us as hunger.
Moreover, the digestive system is also responsible for converting the food we eat into energy. This is the primary reason why we need food to survive. Without any new sources of energy, the body will be forced to use its reserve storage, which — when depleted — will lead to starvation and death.
What other bodily processes does digestion affect?
A healthy digestive system can do wonders for your body’s overall health and well-being. Not only will you be spared a lot of pain from chronic stomach aches, cramping, bloating, and recurring digestive diseases, but keeping your GI tract healthy can boost your immune system. You will be at lower risk of colds and the flu, making you feel better and happier.
Recent studies have also found a healthy digestive system to be positively correlated with better mental health. According to researchers, the stomach and intestines contain the neurotransmitter serotonin, which aids in complex cognitive function and is responsible for producing feelings of happiness. Hence, those with healthy digestive systems are less vulnerable to chronic fatigue, tiredness, and clinical depression.
What can be done to improve digestion?
Improving one’s digestion and strengthening the digestive system comes mainly through eating healthy. This involves eating foods high in fiber, protein, and probiotics and limiting fat and sugar. Eating at regular intervals every day also helps keep the digestive system in place.
An overall healthy lifestyle is also very beneficial. Regularly exercising and drinking plenty of water helps reduce constipation. Vices such as liquor and cigarettes have also been linked to stomach ulcers and heartburn.
Understanding the importance of your digestive system and how to keep it healthy can go a long way towards improving your well-being. You’d be surprised at how much lighter, healthier, and more ready to live your best life you are.