There are three major types of foodstuffs which must be broken down for complete digestion. These are carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. Each day roughly two and one-half gallons of digested food, liquids, and digestive secretions flow through the digestive tract.
The digestion of carbohydrates begins with a starch-digesting enzyme in the saliva; approximately three pints of saliva are produced each day. Carbohydrate digestion is completed by starch- and sugar-digesting enzymes from the pancreas and small intestine. All carbohydrates are broken down into simple sugars.
Proteins break into smaller fragments, influenced by hydrochloric acid and pepsin in the stomach. Then they break further into free amino acids in the intestines by enzymes from the pancreas and intestinal wall.
Fat digestion isn�t complete until it reaches the small intestine. Bile salts from the liver and gall bladder make the fat water-soluble so that it can be carried through the bloodstream, while enzymes from the pancreas and intestinal wall break the fat into fatty acids and glycerol.
When these food particles are small enough, they pass from the small intestine to the bloodstream, where they join other nutrients to be circulated to all body cells. About 90 percent of absorption takes place in the small intestine.
There are many ways we can abuse and weaken our digestive organs. Overeating, constant snacking and diluting digestive secretions with liquids can all place undue stress on our digestive organs.
Indigestion can affect almost anyone. When people eat too fast or too much, don�t chew food properly, or experience emotional stress, they are more likely to feel indigestion. To some degree, these factors can all affect the secretion of hydrochloric acid (HCl) and digestive enzymes.
Also, as people age, their HCl decreases. This begins between ages 35 and 45, and low HCl levels are found in almost everyone older than 55.
Without enzymes, body functions would be too slow to sustain life. Enzymes are essential, but each person is born with a limited enzyme potential. So maintaining an adequate supply of enzymes is vital in supporting body health.
When food enzymes are destroyed by heat, food wilting, or other abuse prior to digestion, the body must create new ones to digest food. Therefore, one of the best ways to help maintain a healthy supply of enzymes is to eat raw foods as much as possible. Not only do raw foods contain enzymes themselves, but they also contain the vital coenzymes (vitamins) that the body constantly needs.
Digestive problems are one of the most common complaints of modern life. Many things interfere with proper digestion: stress, poor food choices, and overeating.
With many additives and processing procedures adulterating the food we eat, vital enzymes necessary for proper food breakdown and absorption are often destroyed. Without these enzymes, even the benefits of a healthy diet cannot fully be reaped, and health concerns may arise.