Our Digestive System

Last Updated: Jan 27, 2011, 18:33 PM IST

Digestion is the process of breaking down the different varieties of food we eat into chemicals, and transported them to every part of our body by our circulatory system.
The digestive process begins in the mouth, where foods are chewed by the teeth after mixing with saliva, and, then the consumed food is transferred to the stomach through esophagus.

On reaching stomach, food is passed into small intestine, while some of the enzymes acted upon on it for further break down and release of nutrients until it is small enough to pass through the walls of the small intestine into the bloodstream. On the other hand, food that cannot be digested passes into the large intestine, where some water gets absorbed by colon. Later, the solid waste, the feces, is then expelled from the body through the rectum and anus.

Factors affecting Digestion and Absorption of Nutrients

Mouth: Any diseases that affect the mouth can have an impact on food intake- irritations, dental caries, mouth sores
Esophagus: Irritation of the lower esophageal sphincter from gastric reflux or alcohol
Stomach: Gastritis from alcohol, stress, or overtraining
Small intestine: Malabsorption from celiac disease or Crohn’s disease or other inflammation (often from alcohol)
Large intestine: Crohn’s disease irritation, with possible bowel obstruction associated with a fluid and electrolyte imbalance
Drugs: Certain drugs may also have an impact on the digestion and absorption of nutrients. Antibiotics destroy the intestinal microflora (bacteria) that assist in digestive and absorptive processes and that are even involved in creating certain nutrients, such as vitamin B12.

Some Tips for Better Digestion

Eat in a comfortable atmosphere.
Chew your food slowly and properly.
Don’t talk when you eat.
Avoid excessive intake of water while eating, but, for poor digestion, drinking peppermint tea is beneficial.
Eat at regular meal times.
Avoid eating late night heavy meals as our digestive system slows down in late hours.
The most common cause of indigestion is overeating. So leave some space in your stomach before you are full.
Take a light walk after having your meal as physical activity enhances our digestive system.