WELCOME TO YOUR GUT
This is where literally THE most fun things happen. Your GUT is so complex, diverse & vital to your wellbeing.
To begin I'll re-introduce you anatomically to your GUTS.
First and foremost, your gut is controlled by the enteric nervous system - the wisest kid on the block and acts without your conscious instructions. The Enteric Nervous System has more neurones than the central nervous system.
For the sake of it, I'm going to dissect your GUT into the first layer & second layer.
The first layer is the more "obvious" "mainstream" GUTS. It consists of your mouth, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine and anus (hehe).
The second layer consists of our less extrovert characters namely the spleen, gallbladder, liver, pancreas and not to forget the appendix.
Mastication is key boys and girls, MASTICATION. The mouth consists of enzymes and warriors that begin digestion. This is where carbohydrates start to be broken down. A super "fun for the whole family" activity is to chew a banana for longer than 5 mins and really zone in on how much the banana changes flavour. This is because you and your family's teeth are physically breaking the structure of the carbohydrate chains. This changing the carbohydrate and in turn the way you taste it. FUN!
This precariously lengthy food shoot has one direction. DOWN. That is of course until you start experimenting with drinking too much alcohol or when you ingest the wrong bacterias... think - that Chinese takeaway you thought was still in date. At the base of the oesophagus are diligent strong tight sphincters. These keep the contents of the stomach, in the stomach.
The "Hot Pot" aka your stomach. This is the horror-movie-death-acid-cooking-pot - all I'm gonna say is ... you do not want to make a surgical incision from the outside world into your stomach and then poke your finger inside because, GOODBYE FINGER. The stomach is so strong, it has a thick protective lining. Nothing in! Nothing out! Its strong bundle shaped muscles catapult the swallowed contents from wall to wall. Churning, mixing and mashing. The stomach is buuuuuusy!
The stomach then moves along, almost horizontally to your right into the small intestine. The small intestine (if all functions as it should) is probably the cleanest and most efficient part of your life. The small intestine is a long as a Giraffe is tall - or if you don't have any Giraffes meandering nearby, thats about half way up an average telegraph pole. It's three to six metres long! The lining of the small intestine has a massive surface area it's walls are all folded up and on the surface there is villi and then on the villi are microvilli, this is a Russian Doll like action of finger-like projections. We absorb most of our ingested nutrients and minerals here.
The Large intestine (COLON)
It is joined to the small intestine via the ileocecal valve, you can hear this guy opening and closing through a stethoscope. Pretty cool huh!? The large intestine is slow compared to the small intestine. Most of our 100 trillion GUT bacteria live here. This is where we absorb the nutrients produced by the GUT bacteria.
These are the highly important, less extrovert organs.
- The pancreas looks like a bumpy, yellow zucchini. You may have heard of the pancreas when your friends uncle is complaining about having to reduce his sugar intake, otherwise he'll get diabetes. The pancreas releases enzymes, hormones and bile salts when triggered by digestion. The upper part of the small intestine aka duodenum is where most of this boogie occurs. The pancreas does way too much to name here, but I'll give you some names to throw around at dinner parties -
Insulin is a hormone released to assist cell uptake of sugar
Pancreatic Amylase is an enzyme that degrades carbohydrates into simple sugars (monosaccharides).
- The liver plays an even more important role in digestion than just being damaged by excessive alcohol consumption. The liver is how your body begins to detoxify and eliminate everything you interact with (unfortunately this does not include ex-lovers). The main duty of the liver I will mention is its production of bile that is released into the duodenum (upper small intestine). Bile breaks down the fat component of foods.
- The gallbladder - produces bile and gastric acids. Which are important particularly for digesting fats and proteins. This cute little green bladder lives nestled up close and tight to the liver.
There is a beautiful ménage à trois between the pancreas, gallbladder and liver happening without your knowing.
- The appendix - The kid sits just after the ileocecal valve (where the small intestine and large intestine meet). She is important for the immune system. She makes antibiodies for everything that passes by. There is an immune code contained within your appendix of everything that passes its trap door. Unless of course it bursts and is removed. Then your immune system has lost its lieutenant.
So now you are well acquainted with your GUT lets move onto how your GUT influences your health.