While many grade school science classes paint digestion as an easy process that takes place in the stomach, but it’s actually a complex combination of biological interactions and chemical reactions taking place at every stop along the way.
Contrary to popular belief, digestion doesn’t start in the stomach. It actually starts in your mouth. When you chew food, enzymes from the salivary glands begin chemically breaking down food molecules into a size your body can absorb. That’s why you should always eat slowly and chew your food thoroughly. Additionally, chewing for a longer time helps you control your portion size.
After you swallow your food, it enters your stomach where acid helps break down the food even more. As you age, the amount of acid in your stomach decreases, which hinders the digestive process. This is why stomach ulcers and other stomach problems are much more common among older people.
The next stop in the digestive tract is the intestines where 100 trillion microorganisms (which make up 3-5 pounds of your body weight!) eat your digesting food, producing beneficial waste products including B and K vitamins. The bacteria also break down foods, such as carbs, that your body can’t absorb by itself. Grains, sugars, and processed foods serve as fertilizer for bad bacteria and yeast and will cause them to multiply rapidly.
The best way for you to aid digestion and help the beneficial microorganism flourish is to have a healthy diet rich in natural foods.