The digestive system is also known as the gastrointestinal tract, GI tract or gut.
This system includes a 30 foot long tube-like structure that incorporates everything from the mouth to the anus, and includes the supporting organs (liver, gall bladder, pancreas) that aid in digestion by producing digestive enzymes, bile, hydrochloric acid, bicarbonate and regulatory hormones.
Important Functions of the Digestive System
- Food Breakdown and absorption to nourish your cells, tissues and organs
- Absorption of water – vital to life
- Defense – It is the first line of defense for pathogens – e.g. bacteria, viruses and parasites.
- Healthy Flora – It serves as hospitable breeding ground for trillions of beneficial bacteria.
- Immune – 60% of immune function comes from gut flora
- Neurotransmitters – 80-90% Serotonin production occurs here, which is important mood and calming.
- Waste Removal of metabolic waste, heavy metals, and drug residues.
Factors That Effect Digestion
- Diet – “Food is Fuel!” – Eat a healthy balanced diet of real food, not fake food. Link to What is a Healthy Diet?
- Chewing – helps digestion, slows eating so less food is consumed
- Digestive enzymes – decrease with age and may be low with liver stress
- pH – important for activating enzymes so they can do their jobs
- Fiber – insoluble (bulk) / soluble (prebiotic)
- Bile production – helps to breakdown fat
- Liver congestion and toxic overload impairs digestion
- Flora – can be healthy or unhealthy “dysbiosis”
- Pathogens and biofilms – interfere with absorption, vitamin production and immune function