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The Effort Of Digestion

Categories: Fasting
Sources: How And When To Be Your Own Doctor

Digestion is a huge, unappreciated task, unappreciated because few

of us are aware of its happening in the same way we are aware of

making efforts to use our voluntary muscles when working or

exercising. Digestion begins in the mouth with thorough chewing. If

you don't think chewing is effort, try making coleslaw in your own

mouth. Chew up at least half a big head of cabbage and three big

carrots that have not been shr
dded. Grind each bit until it

liquefies and has been thoroughly mixed with saliva. I guarantee

that if you even finish the chore your jaw will be tired and you

will have lost all desire to eat anything else, especially if it

requires chewing.

Making the saliva you just used while chewing the cabbage is by

itself, a huge and unappreciated chemical effort.

Once in the stomach, chewed food has to be churned in order to mix

it with hydrochloric acid, pepsin, and other digestive enzymes.

Manufacturing these enzymes is also considerable work! Churning is

even harder work than chewing but normally, people are unaware of

its happening. While the stomach is churning (like a washing

machine) a large portion of the blood supply is redirected from the

muscles in the extremities to the stomach and intestines to aid in

this process. Anyone who has tried to go for a run, or take part in

any other strenuous physical activity immediately after a large meal

feels like a slug and wonders why they just can't make their legs

move the way they usually do. So, to assist the body while it is

digesting, it is wise to take a siesta as los Latinos do instead of

expecting the blood to be two places at once like los


After the stomach is through churning, the partially digested food

is moved into the small intestine where it is mixed with more

pancreatin secreted by the pancreas, and with bile from the gall

bladder. Pancreatin further solubilizes proteins. Bile aids in the

digestion of fatty foods. Manufacturing bile and pancreatic enzymes

is also a lot of effort. Only after the carbohydrates (starches and

sugars), proteins and fats have been broken down into simpler water

soluble food units such as simple sugars, amino acids and fatty

acids, can the body pass these nutrients into the blood thorough the

little projections in the small intestines called villi.

The leftovers, elements of the food that can't be solubilized plus

some remaining liquids, are passed into the large intestine. There,

water and the vital mineral salts dissolved in that water, are

extracted and absorbed into the blood stream through thin permeable

membranes. Mucous is also secreted in the large intestine to

facilitate passage of the dryish remains. This is an effort.

(Intestinal mucous can become a route of secondary elimination,

especially during fasting. While fasting, it is essential to take

steps to expel toxic mucous in the colon before the poisons are re

adsorbed.) The final residue, now called fecal matter, is squeezed

along the length of the large intestines and passes out the rectum.

If all the digestive processes have been efficient there now are an

abundance of soluble nutrients for the blood stream to distribute to

hungry cells throughout the body. It is important to understand the

process at least on the level of oversimplification just presented

in order to begin to understand better how health is lost or

regained through eating, digestion, and elimination. And most

importantly, through not eating.