Hunger is the result of the brain and the digestive system interacting with each other. Once the stomach has burned the food and completed the digestion pattern, the blood sugars and essential hormone levels will begin to drop. The hunger hormone is produced by the stomach and signals the brain that the body needs food.
The first bite of food signals the salivary glands, and they therefore produce saliva. The average person produces about 2 whole pints of saliva each day! Chewing this food breaks down the food into digestible pieces, and the tongue will push that food around the mouth whilst chewing, then saliva mixes with this food to make it absorbable.
Once you chew the food to a soft mass or bolus, the muscles in the mouth and throat propels it into the esophagus. The esophagus connects the throat and the stomach, and the muscles in the esophagus will begin a series of contractions which pushes it forward. The bolus continues its trek until it reaches a muscular valve at the lower end of the esophagus, which allows the bolus to pass into the stomach.
Some people think all digestion takes place in the stomach, but this isn’t true; most of it happens in the small intestine. However, the stomach is aided by the digestive glands, and produces acids and enzymes that break down the food further. Then, powerful muscles in the stomach contract to help propel and chyme into the first part of the intestine.
The Small Intestine
Once the food reaches the first part of the intestine, other organs then get involved. The small intestine is made up of 3 parts; the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. The duodenum continues to break down the food. The pancreas adds digestive enzymes to break down fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. The liver helps process these nutrients, with the gallbladder producing bile, which absorbs and digests fat.
The large intestine
Connecting the small intestine to the rectum is the large intestine. The digestive process creates waste products, so the large intestine’s job is to absorb any water and remove leftover food particles remaining in the GI tract. The large intestine changes the liquid into a solid, creating a stool that the muscles perform peristalsis to push the stool to the end of the large intestine.
A whole ecosystem of bacteria lives in the gut, consisting of trillions of microbes. However, this bacteria is good – it helps digestion, and alters how the body stores fat. It also balances glucose levels in the blood and controls how we respond to those hunger hormones. If you have incorrect gut microbe mixes then this is how obesity and diabetes can develop.
The brain, our emotions, and the digestive system
A ‘second brain’, the enteric nervous system, is located in the digestive system. These 2 thin layers of 100 million nerve cells control the digestion process. A high number of people who experience IBS also experience depression and anxiety. Researchers believe irritation in the gastrointestinal system could be signals sent to the nervous system which causes mood changes.
Digestive System conditions
Numerous issues will affect the digestive systems due to pain and discomfort. Celiac disease is seriously sensitive to gluten and triggers the immune system to react. It interferes with the small intestine’s absorbing nutrients. Inflammatory bowel diseases have been diagnosed in an estimated 2 million adults and children.
Digestive System health
To let the digestive system deliver nutrients to the body, medical professionals suggest sticking to a healthy diet, rich in fresh vegetables, fruits and whole grain. Processed foods should be avoided whenever possible, along with overeating which puts stress on the system. Take time to eat slowly as a relaxed meal results better in digestion.