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Digestive System Tutorial

Good digestion is key to healthy living. The digestive system thrives on the wisdom that Nature has provided to us in whole foods for thousands of years.

Not to be underestimated though, is the role played by stress. Stress in the form of anger, anxiety, fear, sadness, and even lack of love often pervades our lives. This negatively impacts digestion and stress-management skills such as breathing exercises, visualization, and affirmations can put an end to these emotions.

See A Guided Visualization to Weight Loss and Healthy Digestion to eliminate the emotional roots of many weight loss and digestive issues.

Digestive System

The overall digestive system is pictured above, excluding the gallbladder and pancreas, which are behind the liver and stomach respectively. The digestive tract, which extends from the mouth to the anus, is a tube approximately 30 feet long.


Esophagus_small Esophagus

ESOPHAGUS

Digestion begins in the mouth when we chew our food. Food subsequently passes through the esophagus, a tube approximately 12" long.

Esophagus Disorders:
At the opening to the stomach lies the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), a muscle that can allow stomach acid to back up into the esophagus. The resulting irritation is experienced as heartburn (acid reflux).


Stomach-SmallStomach

STOMACH

Food then enters the stomach, which produces hydrochloric acid and a protein-digesting enzyme called pepsin. Pieces of food are turned into a smooth mixture called "chyme."

Stomach Disorders:

Disorders of the stomach include gastric ulcer and gastroenteritis, which are both inflammation conditions.
Another stomach disorder, peptic ulcer, is a hole in the mucous membrane, and is thought to be caused by bacteria.

 


Duodenum-SmallDuodenum

DUODENUM

The chyme subsequently moves to the duodenum, which is the first 12 inches of the small intestine. When undigested food arrives in the duodenum, it signals the stomach to slow the movement of chyme. It also receives vital secretions from the pancreas, liver, and gallbladder for the digestion of fat.

 


Pancreas-Small Pancreas

PANCREAS

The pancreas is located behind the stomach and sends enzymes that digest carbohydrates, fats, and proteins to the duodenum. Hydrochloric acid from the stomach is also neutralized, thus protecting the small intestine.

Pancreatic Disorders:
Dysfunction of the pancreas include pancreatitis, an inflammation disorder. Diabetes 1 and 2 are associated with insulin production, a hormone made in the pancreas.


Liver-SmallLiver

LIVER

The liver has many functions including the storage of nutrients and the production of bile. This bile produced by the liver is sent to the gallbladder for storage.

Liver Disorders:
Liver disorders include cirrhosis and hepatitis A, B, and C.


Gallbladder

GALLBLADDER

The gallbladder is located behind the liver. Bile is released from the gallbladder when fat arrives in the duodenum. Bile emulsifies fat, thus serving an important role in digestion. Waste products from the liver are also eliminated via the gallbladder.

Gallbladder Disorders:
Trans-fats and polyunsaturated oils are a hardship for the gallbladder and cause inflammation, which is thought to contribute to gallstones.


Gallbladder-Small

SMALL INTESTINE

From the duodenum, chyme takes a circuitous route through the rest of the small intestine. At 1 inch in diameter and approximately 25 feet long, this is where most of digestion is accomplished. Unlike the acid environment of the stomach, the small intestine environment is alkaline.

Small Intestine Disorders:
Common disorders associated with the small intestine include inflammation from Celiac Disease, duodenal ulcer, and Crohn's Disorder.

 


Colon-SmallColon

COLON

The small intestine empties into the colon. It is approximately 2 inches in diameter and 5 to 6 feet long. It removes residual water from food matter, and decomposes what remains.

Colon Disorders:
Common disorders found in the colon are often associated with inflammation and include diverticulitis, colitis, and irritable bowel.


Note: Almost all digestive system disorders have an emotional component. See A Guided Visualization to Weight Loss and Healthy Digestion to eliminate the negative emotions at the root of most weight loss and digestive issues.

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