by Marcelle Pick, OB/GYN NP
The major function of the digestive system is to break down food and provide a means by which the nutrients can be absorbed in the body. Nutrients that are liberated by this process allow the body to grow, heal and function on a day-to-day basis.
Unfortunately it is very common for this process to be disrupted (known as dysbiosis). A wide range of factors can influence how well the digestive system function — including dietary habits, medications, and emotional wellness — and most people are affected by at least one of these factors. In fact, an estimated two-thirds of women suffer from gastrointestinal problems, which often leads to malabsorption.
What makes this so important is that much of your health is riding on your body’s ability to absorb nutrients. Healing the GI tract and ensuring that the digestive system is functioning properly is a necessary first step to reaping the benefits of good nutrition.
So let’s take a look at how a healthy digestive system works, and how this delicate process can be disrupted. This is the first step towards improving your digestive health.
The healthy digestive system
Digestion begins in the mouth, where the teeth break up food and mix it with saliva. Salivary enzymes initiate the breakdown of food into usable forms, particularly the initial digestion of fat and starch.