One of the main functions of the GI tract is to digest food and absorb nutrients from it. Digestion actually begins in the brain; when we first see and smell food. Saliva and gastric juices are released even before that first bite reaches the stomach. Different digestive juices are found in different areas along the GI tract. In the mouth, salivary glands release amylase to moisten food and break down starches to help move food down the esophagus. Hydrochloric acid and pepsin produced in the stomach to start the breakdown of protein. The rest of the digestive enzymes are released from the pancreas. These play a critical role in breaking down our food into macronutrients (carbohydrates, protein, and fats) and micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) that make them easily absorbed into the body.
Once all the nutrients have passed through the intestinal barrier, they enter the bloodstream and circulate to all cells and tissues. Every cell in the body requires nutrients to provide energy, maintain organ function, and for growth and repair of new cells. and carried to where they are needed.
When we do not consume enough required nutrients, or when the body cannot process them correctly, it results in maldigestion or malabsorption. These issues can mean low energy, slowed metabolism, mental fog, and decreased immune function. If there is an inadequate amount of digestive enzymes, larger food particles will not be broken down, resulting in indigestion, food sensitivities and vitamin deficiencies.
To improve overall digestion:
Spend more time with your food. Relax while eating. Chew more and slower to allow for more interaction with saliva.
Socialize around food. This naturally slows the eating process and increases enjoyment. Eating alone promotes poor food choices and eating fast.
Eat regular meals to stabilize blood sugar. Start with breakfast and add in healthy snacks to maintain energy.
Consider digestive aids. Whether they be bitters, pancreatic enzymes, bile or hydrochloric acid; they can help support digestion through the GI tract.