Second Brain: Digestive System Overview

I’ve discussed flora before and touched on the digestive system before, but last weeks themed post on gluten and other gut irritants, caused for a little deeper digging (and I apologize an overview of the digestive system should have come first). I have to say I was somewhat surprised by what I found. We focus so much on cancer and heart disease and the brain, but what about our second brain. After this post I think you too will see that we need a to pay a little more attention to what’s going on in our intestines. Let’s start with some crazy stats that I have found on the Weston A. Price:

  • one million Americans suffer from AIDS; 8 million have cancer and 12 million battle heart disease, but that doesn’t compare to the 38 million Americans who have digestive disorders (this includes: Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diverticulitis, celiac disease, IBS, constipation, diarrhea, GERD, candida, and food allergies)
  • economic costs are $123 billion a year (cancer is $17 billion, $58 for neurological, and $88 billion for circulatory)
  • 1 out of every 500 to 1,000 people have Crohn’s disease
  • incidence of digestive disorders is only increasing
  • 2 of the top 5 most prescribed drugs are for digestive disorders (the other three are for heart-related and arthritis)
  • Colorectal cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths
  • over 60 million Americans have heartburn at least once a month and 25 million suffer daily, leading to GERD (gastro-esophageal reflux disease)
  • Diarrhea makes up 13% of all hospital stays for children under 5
  • IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) effects 20% of the US population of adults

Holy cow, that makes your stomach and what you put into it seem a little more important, right? Grays Anatomy defines your digestive system as:

Musculo-membranous tube, about 30 feet in length, extending from mouth to the anus, and lined throughout its entire body extent by a mucous membrane.

Basically a long tube from mouth to butt that food passes down. Digestion begins in the mouth with shewing . Chewing breaks down food into smaller pieces. Saliva in the mouth start the process of breaking down starch. It then travels down the esophagus and waves (peristalsis) wends the food to the stomach. The Stomach functions in 2 ways:

  1. store food until it can go into the intestines
  2. mix food with digestive enzymes (known as chyme)

Next step are the intestine. Food makes its first descent into the duodenum of the small intestine (an amazing 25 feet long). Now we go from the acidic stomach to an alkaline setting. In the small intestine most digestion and assimilation happens. Absorption happens in the little villi (hairlike) and the nutrients then enter into capillaries. Next batter up is the large intestine who gets the stunning responsiblity of storing waste material and undigested food. I think we know what happens from here. This amazing system is an ecosystem of billions of organisms, including enzymes, vitamins and beneficial acids. Why is it considered a second brain? Well to start it has more nerve cells than your peripheral nervous system. Neurotransmitters that we associate with the brain such as serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, norepinephrine also occur in abundance in the digestive system. In talking about digestion we cannot forget to look at another key player, which is the liver:

  • destruction old red blood cells
  • manufacture proteins and blood-clotting agents
  • manufacture cholesterol
  • store carbs as glycogen
  • store some fats and proteins
  • convert fats and proteins into carbohydrates
  • transform galactose (milk sugar) into glucose
  • extract ammonia from amino acids
  • convert ammonia into urea
  • produce bile salt
  • storage fat-soluble vitamins
  • convert fat into ketones
  • neutralize drugs and poisons

Wow, the digestive system is pretty impressive! This week we will look further into how you can keep it healthy. For more on our fat-burner weight-loss programs check out our website at

This entry was posted in Diet, Longevity, Physiology, Weight Loss and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Second Brain: Digestive System Overview

  1. Pingback: Featured Food: Fermented Cabbage | Body Change Wellness – Indiana

  2. Pingback: Gall Bladder: Another Reason to Eat Fat | Body Change Wellness – Indiana

  3. Pingback: Featured Food: Gelatin | Body Change Wellness – Indiana

  4. Pingback: Flora for their Future | Body Change Wellness – Indiana

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s