Welcome to digestion. A complex array of systems working together to keep your body running at it’s optimal function. The end goal of digestion is to break down food into molecules so small that our cells can absorb and utilize the nutrients. Digestion is truly where health begins.
“Every cell that makes up every tissue that makes up every organ depends on the body’s digestive system to provide the nutrients it needs to keep it functioning.” -NTA
A lot goes into digestion. It is a north to south process that starts in your brain. When we are in a parasympathetic state, or the rest and digest state, our brain signals to the rest of our digestive system to prepare for incoming food. When this happens, our mouths start producing saliva (which is where carbohydrates start to break down with the help of an enzyme called salivary amylase), bolus enters our esophagus when we swallow for easy passage to our stomach, gastric juice is secreted into our stomach from millions of tiny gastric glands to help the breakdown of food, and so on and so forth.
Just as digestion is a complex system, it is also a very well functioning machine. A machine that needs all parts working together, or it starts to ‘break down’.
There are many ways your body may be trying to tell you your digestive system is suffering. One being low stomach acid (commonly known as hydrochloric acid or HCl). Signs of low stomach acid may include heartburn, gas, bloating, hair loss, brittle nails, fatigue, burping, diarrhea, etc. One of the most common misconceptions in today’s society is that symptoms such as heartburn mean too much stomach acid. Individuals then take antacids to reduce their stomach acid when they did not have enough to begin with, which is exceptionally dangerous.
Today, approximately 90% of Americans suffer from low stomach acid. When an individual does not have enough stomach acid, the body is not properly able to break down foods, which results in less nutrients being absorbed, and more being flushed. Aside from that, we also lose our first defense against pathogenic microorganisms such as yeast, prions, bacteria, viruses, parasites, etc. Since those tiny microorganisms are actually tiny proteins, pepsin is supposed to help us digest them and turn them into food. Instead, in a low stomach acid case, an environment is created in which those organisms thrive and wreak havoc on the GI tract, resulting in digestive issues galore.
On top of the already important tasks your digestive system conducts daily, it also houses another vital part of your health, 80% of your immune system. A weakened immune system correlates very strongly with a weakened gut. When this happens, individuals are more prone to airborne or food allergies/sensitivities, autoimmune diseases, skin issues, and so forth. When we work on strengthening your gut, we are also able to strengthen your immune system and ultimately, help rid your body of those issues and diseases.
The complexity of the digestive system and all it has to offer is why digestion is genuinely one of my favorite foundations! A foundation we can work on together to help you regain your health!