How Digestion Works – Understanding the Basics


– Hey, guys, Robby here
from Crossfit South Bend. Back here with another video
from our digestion series. Today, we’re gonna talk
about a basic intro to your digestive system
and how it actually works. You don’t need to be going
into the medical field to know that this stuff is important. You should just have a basic understanding of how this stuff works, because it ends up
being overall important, not just for your digestive health, but for your overall health. Let’s talk about how things work when you actually eat food. What happens in-between when
the food enters your body and then when it exits out the back end. First thing, your mouth. When you start eating food, your body produces saliva
to basically coat that food and there are certain
enzymes in your mouth, typically salivary amylase which helps break down
certain starches and sugars from the food that you’re eating. Of course, chewing is
going to be a huge part of that start of the digestive process. You’re basically taking whatever it is, whether it’s a steak or roasted vegetables or something like that, which by itself, if you just put it into
your small intestine wouldn’t be very digestible or absorbable in terms of extracting the nutrients out until you start this process. Again, with your saliva you’re kind of lubricating it essentially and then with your teeth you’re
basically grinding it up. With those enzymes and
the salivary amylase, you are basically getting it ready for future things down the line, and that active chewing starts to activate that parasympathetic nervous system. Now, technically even though
I started with the mouth, technically even before that
there’s going to be your brain. When your brain knows
that you’re going to eat, it starts to secrete digestive enzymes, it starts to anticipate the food. Things like smelling your food or anticipating your food
can kind of help start that digestive process, but technically, physically it’s going to start with the mouth. Once we get past the mouth, the food basically goes
down your esophagus and then it gets to your stomach. A very common misconception
is that digestion takes place in the stomach. That is not the case. Really what takes place in
the stomach is preparation for digestion if by
digestion we mean absorption of nutrients which actually takes place in the small intestine. What happens in the stomach? Well, that stuff that you just chewed up basically gets down
there and then assuming that your stomach acid
is sufficiently acidic, which it should be, it’s typically about a PH
of two which is very acidic. Water is a seven. Once it gets down there, that acid basically breaks
a lot of that stuff down and prepares it to be absorbed
in the small intestine. Now, another thing to
realize about the stomach is that there really isn’t that much in the way of bacteria in the stomach. We talk a lot about probiotics
and stuff like that. That’s gonna be much more located in things like the small intestine and to an even greater
degree, the large intestine. Isn’t to say there isn’t
some bacteria in the stomach, but it’s gonna be a
very, very small quantity ’cause it’s obviously a
super acidic environment. Okay, next point is
really gonna be the heart and soul of digestion. This is the small intestine. When we talk about leaky gut or when we talk about a healthy gut or we talk about are
you absorbing your food, this is where the action takes place. Your small intestine is
basically where that food that you chewed up and
then was broken down by your stomach gets absorbed and if the acid from your stomach
isn’t sufficiently acidic, then your pancreas isn’t gonna
release digestive enzymes to properly breakdown
your food in your stomach. This whole chain is very important. In your small intestine, there is a lining basically of single cells called enterocytes that help your body absorb nutrients from the food that you’re eating, but also keep bad stuff out. This lining is incredibly,
incredibly important. It’s what allows good stuff into your body and it’s what keeps bad stuff out. Now, again, going back to
this notion of bacteria, we said that there’s a very
small amount in the stomach. There’s definitely a bit
more in the small intestine, but you don’t want too much
there because then that’s going to interfere with digestion. Really, where the vast majority
of the bacteria is going to be is in your large intestine. When we talk about probiotics
and healthy bacteria and the microbiome, that’s
really in your large intestine. Your large intestine is basically where three main things happen. You absorb water, a lot of the compounds that
your body can actually absorb, like fiber and other compounds, get broken down by your
bacteria in your large intestine and then you basically, you’re preparing things to
essentially exit your body. When we talk about
probiotics, healthy bacteria, there’s something like a trillion bacteria in your large intestine and that’s where you want bacteria to be. It’s so important that all of these things are
working together in harmony and if one thing is off, like if you have too much bad bacteria in your large intestine, or insufficient stomach
acid in your stomach, or you’re not chewing
your food in your mouth, any one of those things
can mess up digestion. As we’ve talked about, digestion
is incredibly important for the health of your overall body. I hope now you have a good
sense of how digestions works, just a basic sense, and
in the next few videos, we’ll talk even more in-depth
about how this stuff works. All right, guys, thanks
so much for tuning in. We’ll see you next time. (rumbling)
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