Our affluence has allowed us the luxury of bypassing the necessary search and acquisition of the day’s nutritional needs of our ancestors. We smell food, we see food, we think about food and we eat. However we still have not acquired the smarts to understand this largesse will be our downfall if we fail to comprehend a full stomach has a lag time of about twenty minutes before the satiation center in the brain states it’s time to quit. The downside to all this are the twin scourges of bloating and flatulence Sight of and aromas from food initiate the release of saliva from glands in the mouth, cheeks and tongue. Saliva serves the dual purpose of moisturizing the food and it contains enzymes that initiate the breakdown of starches and sugars. Coupled with the mastication function of our teeth, the food is reduced to more manageable components for passage to the stomach via the oesophagus. This is not a passive process relying on gravity but an active rhythmic muscle movement called peristalsis. The stomach serves the dual roles of emulsifying the food with strong acid at a ph of 1.5 to 2 ( for comparison, the acid in your car battery has a ph of 1.0.) while acting as a barrier to external pathogens entering the body through the digestive system thus protecting the PROBIOTICS, the “good bugs” that aid digestion in the intestine from being overwhelmed by alien bacteria. This stomach activity also stimulates bile release formed within the liver from stored cholesterol, phospholipids and bilirubin. Bile is stockpiled in the gall bladder and concentrated for release with the next gastric filling. Bile acts as a detergent to emulsify fats in the upper small intestine but further through, 95 percent will be reabsorbed and recycled in the last portion of the small intestine, the ileum. The final chemistry in this process are the pancreatic enzymes lipase and amylase, the “fat busters”. The last two components of this process occur at the microscopic level with the probiotics bacteria completing the breakdown process PAC man style and then these minute nutrient particles enter the body through the villi in the wall of the small intestine. The large intestine plays minimal role in this digestion process but has two significant functions of reabsorbing the voluminous water of the digestion process and serving a storage function to keep us all polite in company. Obviously, ANY disease at any level of this process will have a disruptive impact and bears scrutiny by your medical team
Digestion is an efficient process not a perfect one. GAS…in spite of our protestations…and denials….is a natural and unavoidable byproduct of this digestion process. Every one of us generates flatus at a rate of an average ten to twenty times per day. It is the primary cause of bloating in an otherwise normal gut. You cannot eliminate (wrong word) avoid it but it is controllable to some degree.
Rule one. No scarfing. Eating fast reduces the bulk breakdown resulting in more work for the next part of the process. It also means more air being swallowed. Same applies to gum chewers and candy munchers. Don’t drink through a straw. Same air issue. Obviously carbonated beverages are at the top of this NO list The high sodium content and preservatives in packaged food are another source of impaired digestion. Avoid the sulfite/ nitrites of chips and like snacks. Sandwiches made with deli meats and cheese are also high in sodium. Kale is “in” as a great source of vitamins and other nutrients but the fiber is difficult to break down and it contains an indigestible sugar called raffinose. Brussels sprouts and broccoli present similar problematic fibers unless steamed. Low calorie substitutes aspartame and Sucralose have always been indigestible but are now more to be avoided for the cardio issues coming forward. And then there is the ubiquitous bean family high in fiber and excellent source of protein but very high in carbohydrate calories difficult to digest.
Digestion is a dynamic process where the rate of movement of the intestine determines the efficiency of the process and a definite contributor to the daily sound bytes. Sometimes a change in digestion is attributable to a new prescription or over the counter medicine as occurs with stress and anxiety.
Life really is a gas. I’m just presenting you a different perspective with which to view it.