Gut Health: What Improves It & What Destroys It

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By Dr. Jason Jones, Discussions with successful health experts such as Ben Greenfield, and Terry Wa. Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio is streamed directly from their servers. Hit the Subscribe button to track updates in Player FM, or paste the feed URL into other podcast apps.

Improving Gut function TOP to BOTTOM - Organs Involved & Gut-brain connection- Dr. Jason Jones Elizabeth City NC, Chiropractor

The food we eat moves through the gastrointestinal tract (a long, connected, hollow tube that starts from the mouth and ends in the anus), and there are lots of organs involved in this process. Along the way, the body absorbs the beneficial part of the food after digestion, giving your nutrients and energy. The remaining part is given out as a waste product.

A series of muscles work together to coordinate the moment of food and cells that produce enzymes and hormones involved in the process of digestion. Other “accessory” organs, including the liver, gallbladder, and the pancreas also involved in this process.

What organs are involved in the process of digestion?

The major organs that are part of the digestive system includes:

  • Mouth
  • Esophagus
  • Stomach
  • small intestine
  • large intestine
  • rectum

These organs work hand-in-hand to convert foods into nutrients and energy that is needed for survival. In the end, it packages the solid waste or stool and gets rid of them through the bowel movement.

Mouth

This is the starting part of the gastrointestinal tract. It starts working even before you ingest food. The moment you see and smell that warm bread or pasta dish, your salivary glands gets active. After ingesting your food and chewing into smaller pieces, your saliva mixes with the food, breaking it into an absorbable form that your body can use. The tongue helps to move the food to the next organ

Esophagus

The esophagus is a long tube close to your trachea (windpipe). It receives food from your mouth, and move it to your stomach through a series of muscular contractions called peristalsis. But for this food to move down, the ring-like muscle called lower esophageal sphincter has to relax to allow passage into the stomach. After that, the muscle contracts to prevent backward flow into the esophagus, which may cause acid reflux or heartburn.

Stomach

The stomach holds food and serves as the mixer and grinder of food. The cells in the lining of this sac-like organ secrete a strong acid and enzymes that are involved in the breakdown of food into a usable form. After proper processing of the food in the stomach, changing it to a consistency of paste or liquid, the content is then moved to the small intestine.

Small intestine

This organ is a muscular tube 22-foot long, having three segments- the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. This organ is the “workhouse” of digestion, and most nutrients are absorbed here. Foods are mixed with digestive enzymes released by the pancreas and bile produced from the liver. Peristalsis is also in action in this organ, moving food through as it is being mixed with digestive juices.

The duodenum is the first segment and it is largely responsible for continuing the breakdown process. The jejunum and ileum are responsible for the absorption of nutrients into the bloodstream. Once the nutrients have been absorbed, the leftover (the waste) passes into the large intestine or colon.

Large Intestine (Colon)

The large intestine is a muscular tube that is 6-foot long, and it links the small intestine directly to the rectum.

It has segments, including:

  • Cecum
  • Ascending (right) colon
  • Transverse (across) colon,
  • Descending (left) colon,
  • Sigmoid colon

This organ is highly specialized and it is responsible for processing waste to ease emptying of the bowels. The stool or waste left over is sent to the colon through peristalsis, and any remaining water is absorbed. The stool is stored in the sigmoid colon until a mass movement pushes it down into the rectum to begin the process of elimination through the anus.

Accessory Digestive Organs and functions

Liver

The liver secretes bile and process the nutrient-rich blood coming from the small intestine. It purifies this blood of impurities before allowing it to travel to the rest of the body.

Pancreas

The pancreas is the main factory for digestive enzymes that helps to break down carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. These enzymes are secreted into the duodenum segment of the small intestine.

Gallbladder

This is a sac for the storage of excess bile made in the liver. This bile is released via the bile duct into the small intestine, where it helps to break down fat and move waste out of the liver.

Gut-brain connection

The brain has a strong connection to the gastrointestinal tract, especially the stomach and small intestine. For example, the thoughts of food alone can trigger the release of the stomach’s juice even before eating.

The walls of the digestive system are lined with more than 100 million nerves, starting from the esophagus to the rectum. That’s called the brain in your gut, otherwise known as the enteric nervous system (ENS). So those moments when you’re nervous and feel “butterflies in your stomach,” the ENS is at work.

This brain in your gut mainly controls digestion, from swallowing to enzyme release and food breakdown and absorption. Although this ENS is not capable of thought as we know, it has a direct link with our big brain.

More so, the ENS can trigger big emotional shifts, especially in people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and bowel problems like diarrhea, constipation, bloating, stomach upset, and pain. Little wonder people with these issues tend to develop depression and anxiety.

You can consult Doctor Jason Jones at our Chiropractic office, Elizabeth City, NY, to get mind-body therapies to help your gut function.

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