Digestion, Simplified ;)

cartoon2Digestion, which is the breaking down of food into energy and nutrients to be absorbed by the body, happens in the digestive system. The digestive system consists of major organs namely the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus, stomach, small intestines, large intestines, rectum and the anus. Additionally, there are other accessory organs including the liver, gallbladder and the pancreas.   Digestion of food first happens in the mouth, where chewing happens to break food down into smaller pieces. In that action of chewing, saliva containing salivary amylase is being mixed with the food, which starts the digestion of carbohydrates.   Next, the food (or now, the mass of food, a bolus) travels down through the pharynx (throat) into the oesophagus. Food travels down the oesophagus into the stomach through a series of contractions, also known as peristalsis.   In the stomach, resides the gastric juices, which contains hydrochloric acid (burn baby burn!) and pepsin which aids in protein digestion. Food is mixed with the gastric juices through the means of peristalsis as well. The bolus becomes a thick liquid known as chyme, which then leaves the stomach, into the small intestines.   The small intestines consist of 3 segments, the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. Chyme enters the first part of the small intestines, the duodenum, where by the chyme mixes (via peristalsis) with pancreatic enzymes (from the pancreas) and bile (from the gallbladder of the liver). Here, bile aids in the emulsification of fats, which are then further digested by the pancreatic enzymes released into the duodenum. Moving down into the jejenum and ileum of the small intestines, 95% of the nutrients from food happens. The musosa of the small intestines are coated with tiny projections called the villi, which are covered with the microvilli, which helps in creating a large surface area for nutrients to be absorbed. Water and minerals are being absorbed in the small intestines as well. After nutrients are being absorbed, the waste moves down into the large intestines (Colon). Reabsorption of water and minerals occurs here. Thereafter, waste is being eliminated via the rectum through to the anus. And now it’s done! Phew, all that action and peristalsis in order to get all those food digested.     Fun facts about the Digestive System: 1. Food takes about 2 hours to be digested in children (due to the quick peristalsis), and 3-4 hours to be digested in humans [Don’t you sometimes wish you have that quick metabolism like children do???] 2. Digestion occurs more quickly in Pitta, as compared to Vatta and Kapha body types [Take the Dosha test here => http://www.naturesformulary.com/contents/dosha-test] 3. Your appendix may not be that useless after all. Apart from just causing appendicitis when food gets in there, in recent years, scientists have found a use for the appendix [Read more about it here => http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21153898/ns/health-health_care/t/scientists-may-have-found-appendixs-purpose/#.VUypL8scSic]     After all these talk, I’m sure all of you would love to know about Asanas that aid in digestive health, right right? You have come to the right place! Here goes: 1. Trikonasana (Extended triangle pose) 2. Pavritta trikonasana (Revolved triangle pose) 3. Pavritta utkatasana (Revolved chair pose) 4. Ardha Baddha Padmottasana (Half bound lotus intense stretch pose) 5. Ardha Baddha Padma Paschimottanasana (Half bound lotus posterior stretch pose) 6. Pawan muktasasana (Wind releasing pose). Remember to do the right leg first, followed by both legs, and lastly the left leg, due to the shape and nature of our colon 7. Any Marichyasana 8. Dhanurasana (Bow pose) 9. Jathara Parivarthanasana (Belly twist pose) 10. Any inversion (Sarvangasana – Shoulderstand, Sirsasana – Headstand, Adho Mukha Vrksasana)   Get on the mat and practice these today!     Peace and lots of love, Kathleen 🙂