Every cell in the body requires energy to function.
Food that is ingested is the energetic material necessary for cellular function. However, most food cannot directly enter the blood stream and be used by the cells of the body until it is broken down into simple molecules. The digestive system’s role is to alter ingested food by mechanical and chemical processes so food can cross the gastrointestinal barrier and enter the cardiovascular and lymphatic systems for cellular distribution throughout the body. Digested food is then able to provide energy to fuel body activity and incorporate into the body structure.
So let’s get acquainted with the digestive system. The digestive system is comprised of a tube called the alimentary canal that extends from the lips to the anus. Below the diaphragm the digestive tract is called the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The alimentary canal is a long muscular tube lined with mucous membrane for a total length of about 27 feet with 1 ½ feet above the diaphragm. Each part of the tube is called by a different name, for example, mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. Each classified part has its own special anatomic characteristics and performs its own particular functions with the overall purpose of making food available to the cells of the body.
The whole time food remains in the canal it is considered “outside” of the body and has not “entered” the body. Think of the alimentary canal as the hole in a doughnut. In order for food to enter the body it must cross the epithelium that lines the wall of the digestive tract. A number of glands and organs assist in the digestion of food in the alimentary canal including secretions from salivary, gastric and intestinal glands, the liver/gallbladder and pancreas. The digestion of food is a complex interplay of many players we take for granted but relay on one another to accomplish a very important task, fueling the human body.
The activities of the digestive system are divided into six basic processes beginning at the mouth and ending at the anus—it’s a journey. This hidden passage of physiological processes is your body’s ability to feed itself through sustained nourishment. The alimentary tract is like a root system deep in your body that anchors your health and provides the foundation for your longevity.
To ensure our health and vitality it is imperative we pay attention to what we eat and how we feel. Good and natural foods may be inflammatory in some people’s gastrointestinal tract. Paying attention is critical so gut problems do not take hold and alter the sensitive balance of good flora or erode your immune status.
To your health,