I recently wrote and published my first book, “To Feel Well: Improve Your Digestive System”. In last week’s column I described my motivation for writing this book and unveiled my desire to write several more books in the future. In this week’s column I’d like to discuss how the digestive system works, which is the title of the second chapter in the book.
In the book I describe that there are 6 phases of digestion. It is during these 6 phases that nutrients from food are digested, absorbed, and transported to all the cells in the body. It is also during this process where many waste materials are removed from the body. All 6 phases play such a crucial role in our overall health and I believe we must understand these phases in order to pursue optimal health. Below is a brief description of the purpose of each of the 6 phases of the digestive system.
Phase 1: The Cephalic Phase
During this phase our digestive juices begin to flow. As we think about food, smell food, and even begin to taste food, a hormonal cascade prepares the digestive system to handle the meal that is to come. This phase initiates the production of the acids and enzymes that digest food. It also initiates the muscle contractions that propel nutrients through the digestive tract.
Phase 2: The Stomach Phase
During this phase the stomach is actively cranking out acid in order to break down proteins and kill microorganisms. Some of this stomach acid will be required to move down to the small intestine in order to activate the enzymes that digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins. In a nutshell, the stomach phase prepares the food you’ve consumed for the small intestine.
Phase 3: The Intestinal Phase
As food material moves into the small intestine from the stomach it continues to be broken down into smaller and smaller particles by acids and enzymes. Once the enzymes have broken the food down to microscopic particles the cells of the small intestine decide which nutrients they will allow to pass through to the bloodstream. Only what the cells want to take in will make it into the body. The leftovers move down the GI tract to the large intestine.
Phase 4: The Hepatic Phase
All nutrients that have been absorbed into the bloodstream from the small intestine must go to the liver before they go anywhere else in the body. During this phase of the digestive system the liver processes the recently digested nutrients and removes as much waste or toxicity as possible. The liver then sends the “purified” blood full of recently digested nutrients into general circulation.
Phase 5: The Cellular Absorption Phase
Once the nutrients have passed through the liver they make their way to all the other cells of the body through the circulatory system. Each cell is required to digest and absorb its own nutrients. If the capillaries are dehydrated or full of toxicity certain nutrients may not arrive at certain cells in optimal amounts, which can create nutrient deficiencies.
Phase 6: The Elimination Phase
The final phase of the digestive system involves the removal of the waste created not only within the digestive system but from the metabolic processes of many other areas in the body. If waste is not moving properly out of the body via the stool, the previous 5 phases will likely operate less effectively due to the back-pressure in the GI tract.
To learn more about Dr. Barlow, purchase the book, or to schedule a consultation please contact his office at 250-448-5610 or visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com
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