A Sprint Through the Digestive Tract
To get a better understanding of why digestion is so important for health and strong teeth lets have a quick look at how it works and what it needs to breakdown your food so you get what you require for energy and wellbeing.
The digestive system is in charge of absorbing and transporting all the nutrients your body needs in order to thrive, and getting rid of all the waste you don’t need.
It Starts With The Mouth
Digestion begins before you start eating; just the smell of food is enough. The brain signals your salivary glands and makes your mouth water. Once food enters the mouth the salivary glands secrete more saliva, making the food moist and easier to swallow. Saliva contains an enzyme amylase which starts the breakdown of carbohydrates
Once the food enters the stomach it gets covered in stomach acid enzymes and a mucous. The mucous protects the stomach lining from its own acid. The production of stomach acid is crucial for breaking down your food. To produce enough stomach acid your body needs a good supply of zinc. The stomach acid and enzymes and turn your food into a liquid paste.
The Intestines and Colon
Next stop is the small intestine where the breakdown process continues with enzymes from the pancreas and bile from the liver. The intestines are the part of your gut that absorbs nutrients and water. The nutrients then pass through the wall of the intestines and into blood vessels.
The bits of food that can’t be digested move into the large intestine. The large intestine absorbs extra fluid to produce the solid waste we know as faeces which gets eliminated from the body.
The gut does not function properly without the help of bacteria. Billions of bacteria live in the gut and are responsible for many processes like breaking down food, producing vitamins and acting as part of your immune system. Without these bacteria or the right balance of bacteria, your digestion does not function effectively, which can lead to all sorts of problems with your gut and your health.
Your appetite is controlled by hormones which tell your brain that you are hungry when its time to eat or full up when you have eaten enough.
The stomach and small intestine produce a hormone called ghrelin which switches on your appetite and tells you, you are hungry. Once you have eaten enough they release a hormone called peptide YY, that signals your brain that you feel full, switching appetite off.
To keep hunger pangs at bay your body produces leptin. Leptin is a hormone made by fat cells that helps regulate your appetite. Leptin helps control ghrelin levels and tells the brain that the body has enough energy stores such as body fat.
However, research has found that many obese people don’t respond to leptin’s signals even though they have higher levels of it and hence the lack of appetite control. One of the main culprits for this is the excessive amount of sugar in the modern diet.
The process of digestion is closely regulated by gut bacteria, hormones, enzymes, the liver, pancreas and the brain. If any one part is out of balance then you will develop digestive problems which can predispose you to poor health.
Without the uptake of nutrients from your food, you will suffer poor health and weak teeth.
To eat for strong healthy teeth you need a diet rich in nutrient-dense food containing vitamins, minerals and good fats.
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