Digestive System and Digestive Health

Adequate and balanced nutrition is essential for the continuation of a healthy life. The nutrients taken into the body through nutrition become usable with the help of the digestive system. The process of breaking down nutrients into building blocks large enough to pass through the cell is called digestion. Conditions that negatively affect this process may cause digestive system diseases in humans. In order to prevent these negative situations, it will be useful to explain briefly what is the digestive system.

Proteins, fats and carbohydrates are among the nutrients we eat. For this, they cannot pass through the cell membrane and must be broken down into very small pieces in order to be transformed into energy. But minerals, vitamins and water are already small and do not need to be digested separately.

digestive system

Digestive System & Digestive Health

The type of large molecule nutrients changes the duration of digestion, even where breakdown begins. The digestion of proteins, fats and carbohydrates does not occur in exactly the same way. There are differences and similarities between them. To understand these, let’s first examine the structure of the digestive system.

What is the Digestive System?

After a food is taken into the mouth, it is divided into smaller pieces with the help of teeth and jaws. This is called mechanical or physical digestion. In mechanical digestion, the total surface area of ​​nutrients increases, but still cannot pass through the cell membrane. In order for nutrients to pass through the cell membrane, they must also be broken down chemically.

The separation of nutrients, which are divided into smaller pieces by physical digestion but with a larger structure than the cell, into building blocks with enzymes and water is called chemical digestion. The system that allows food to be broken down physically with the help of teeth in the mouth and chemically with the help of water and enzymes is called the digestive system.

Digestion takes place in 4 stages. These are eating, digestion, absorption of food and disposal of waste from the body. For example, the first step takes place when pizza is taken into the mouth as raw. Then it is chewed with teeth and cut into small pieces. Small pizza chips are chemically broken down in the stomach and small intestine. Thus, it is completed in the second stage.

In the third stage, carbohydrate and protein monomers large enough to pass through the cell in the digested pizza are absorbed by the body cells by diffusion and active transport. However, when energy and heat are required, they can be oxidized. In the fourth stage, substances that cannot be absorbed or digested by the cells are expelled from the body through stool.

Digestive system organs can be listed as mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine. These are structures and organs that help break down nutrients. These include salivary glands, pancreas, liver and gall bladder.

Nutrients such as carbohydrate, protein and fat, which are composed of organic molecules, are digested and absorbed and transformed into unique molecules of the living thing. For example, proteins cannot be used directly by the cell. For this they turn into amino acids that can be used by cells. These amino acids take part in the synthesis of proteins in the cells according to the DNA code of the living thing.

Types of Digestion

Digestion occurs in two ways. These;

1) mechanical digestion

2) chemical digestion

Mechanical Digestion: It is the breaking down of food into smaller pieces, mostly by mouth movements, without a chemical change. When nutrients are broken down into smaller pieces, their surface area is increased. Since no enzyme is used in mechanical digestion, the pieces formed are not small enough to pass through the cell membrane. For this, it must be broken down into much smaller pieces using enzymes.

Chemical Digestion: It is the separation of chemical bonds of large molecule nutrients with increased surface area as a result of mechanical digestion by breaking off their chemical bonds by means of water and enzymes. As a result of this process, the food molecules break down into small pieces that can pass through the cell membrane.

Breaking down food into small pieces takes place in the digestive tract. In other words, digestion takes place outside the cell. The breakdown of nutrients into building blocks in a space outside the cell by secreted enzymes is called extracellular digestion.

Foods taken as a result of phagocytosis and pinocytosis events seen in some living things are digested inside the cell by means of lysosome enzymes. However, white blood cells in the circulatory system also ingest bacteria and microbes that enter the body through phagocytosis. In other words, intracellular digestion is observed in humans only for defense purposes.

Digestive System Organs and Structures That Help Digestion

The digestive system consists of digestive tract and digestive aids. Substances secreted by organs such as salivary glands, liver and pancreas provide chemical digestion of food. Provides physical digestion of bile fats synthesized in the liver and stored in the gallbladder.

Structures That Make Up the Digestive Canal

The digestive tract consists of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and anus, respectively. Although digestion of carbohydrates, fats and proteins is different, digestion takes place in the mouth, stomach, and small intestine. The food digested moves along the digestive tract as smooth muscles contract and relax. Let’s look at the structures in the digestive tract.

Digestive Health

It is necessary to pay attention to three important factors for a healthy digestive system: nutrition, mouth hygiene and physical activity.

We can list the things to do for a healthy digestive system as follows.

Adequate and balanced nutrition is of vital importance. For this purpose, consuming fast food should be avoided, caffeinated and acidic beverages, tobacco and tobacco products should be avoided. Also, alcohol should not be drunk.

Excessively fatty and sugary foods damage structures in the digestive system. For this reason, such foods should not be included in the nutrition program.

Foods should be chewed well, enough water should be drunk, and fibrous foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables should be consumed. Tooth and mouth cleaning is also a must for the digestive system.

Avoiding stress and sadness is the most important factor in maintaining the healthy structure of the digestive system, as in any disease.

Exercise and Digestive Health

In addition to adequate and balanced nutrition, physical activity and exercise also positively affect the physical and mental performance of the individual.

While physical activity includes all kinds of movements done during the day, exercise is the whole of planned, paced and regular movements. Regular exercise ensures the maintenance of a healthy body weight.

Exercise also reduces the risk of developing chronic diseases. Physical activities such as walking, running, swimming, and cycling provide energy need from fat, accelerate metabolism and prevent weight gain. Thus, obesity can be prevented.

Obesity and Digestive Health

In many countries, the level of physical activity has decreased more than food consumption, so it has been concluded that low physical activity is an important factor for obesity.

Obesity, which is an important health problem, gradually increases and causes coronary heart disease, diabetes and stroke. It is easier and more effective to achieve weight loss by limiting energy and increasing physical activity.

It reduces the risk of vascular diseases by affecting the high cholesterol and triglyceride levels in the blood. Regular physical activity helps regulate blood sugar by controlling insulin. It also balances the body’s use of water, salt and minerals.

Foods and Digestive Health

Obesity, diabetes, intestinal and digestive system disorders have increased as a result of the increasing demand of consumers for ready-made foods, decrease in physical activities and malnutrition.

The edible parts of the plants that are completely or partially fermented in the large intestine although they are not digested in the small intestine in humans are called dietary fiber. Especially in grains, fruits and vegetables, it is found in the non-digestible solid parts of vegetables and fruits such as shell, membrane, stem and seed.

Dietary fiber constitutes the main component of low-energy diet products that have become increasingly important in recent years. Dietary fiber components regulate colon functions. It is protective against constipation, hemorrhoids, colon cancer, obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular diseases.

Organic foods; They are vegetable and animal foods that do not use artificial fertilizers, pesticides, weed and fungicides, hormones, antibiotics, preservatives, colorants and chemicals. There is a significant increase in organic food production and consumption all over the world.

Organic foods are healthy foods because they are natural. Since it does not contain additives and its genetics are not intervened, it is effective in maintaining the healthy structure of the digestive system and other systems.

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