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Digestion: Part 4 (of 4)

We’ve reached the final stage of digestion!  If you’ve missed the previous sections of Digestion that we covered, you can find them at Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

We last left off with the chyme going through the ileocecal valve to enter the large intestine, aka the colon.  So far, the food has been chewed and mixed with saliva, mashed up in the stomach and mixed with gastric juices, and absorbed in the small intestine.  The leftover portion of the chyme consists of things like indigestible fibers, bile, water, and sloughed off cells.

Large intestine

When it’s working properly…

The large intestine is responsible for recycling water and waste material which nourishes the colon cells.  This is also the last chance for usable nutrients to be absorbed, so any that were missed in the small intestine can be absorbed here in the large intestine.  (The large intestine doesn’t have the same villi/macrovilli like the small intestine so the healthy bacteria here help to absorb those nutrients.)  These nutrients are then converted to vitamins K, B1, B2, B12, and butyric acid.  Finally feces are formed are excreted through the anus.

whatcangowrong

The large intestine is the organ that deals with “the leftovers”.  This could include anything like undigested foods that could be full of parasites and any microorganisms that weren’t killed by the hydrochloric acid in the stomach.  So first of all, the leftovers by now should be really ground up when it passes through the ileocecal valve.  If it’s not, and there are undigested foods, that could clog the valve or jam it open.

Then those foods begin rotting in the colon, which means producing bacteria.  This extra bacteria production causes an imbalance in the healthy colon flora, which begins to weaken the cells of the colon.

Now the colon is vulnerable to inflammation, diverticula, and a loss of tone/muscle.  This is where issues like irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, colitis, and Crohn’s disease can stem from.  They’re all made worse by an unhealthy large intestine.

Soooo…as you can see, digestion is really connected at every step in this north to south process.  Every step can affect something south.  So once again, echoing Part 1, Rest and Digest, and chew your food!!  🙂

This is a pretty really big deal in the body.  Digestion is the foundation of health.  Think about it…even if you eat the most healthful foods you can possibly get your hands on, if you’re eating that in a stressful environment, or if you don’t chew long enough, or if you’re constantly popping acid blockers, etc…a whole variety of problems can occur.  So I urge you to make healthy digestion a priority as much as you can.  *Please do not make any chances to medications or diet without checking with your physician.

In good health,

Michelle

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