DIGESTIVE SYSTEM FUNCTION
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The process of gastric secretion can be divided into three phases cephalic, gastric, and intestinal that depend upon the primary mechanisms that cause the gastric mucosa to secrete gastric juice. The phases of gastric secretion overlap, and there is an interrelat ion and some interdependence between the neural and humoral pathways. The cephalic phase of gastric secretion occurs in response to stimuli received by the senses—that is, taste, smell, sight, and sound. This phase of gastric secretion is entirely reflex in origin and is mediated by the vagus 10th cranial nerve.
Gastric juice is secreted in response to vagal stimulation, either directly by electrical impulses or indirectly by stimuli received through the senses. Ivan Petrovich Pavlov , the Russian physiologist, originally demonstrated this method of gastric secretion in a now-famous experiment with dogs. The gastric phase is mediated by the vagus nerve and by the release of gastrin.
The acidity of the gastric contents after a meal is buffered by proteins so that overall it remains around pH3 acidic for approximately 90 minutes. Acid continues to be secreted during the gastric phase in response to distension and to the peptides and amino acids that are liberated from protein as digestion proceeds. The chemical action of free amino acids and peptides excites the liberation of gastrin from the antrum into the circulation. Thus, there are mechanical, chemical, and hormonal factors contributing to the gastric secretory response to eating.
This phase continues until the food has left the stomach. The intestinal phase is not fully understood, because of a complex stimulatory and inhibitor process. Amino acids and small peptides that promote gastric acid secretion are infused into the circulation, however, at the same time chyme inhibits acid secretion.
The secretion of gastric acid is an important inhibitor of gastrin release. If the pH of the antral contents falls below 2. Some of the hormones that are released from the small intestine by products of digestion especially fat , in particular glucagon and secretin, also suppress acid secretion.
Although the stomach absorbs few of the products of digestion, it can absorb many other substances, including glucose and other simple sugars, amino acids, and some fat-soluble substances. The pH of the gastric contents determines whether some substances are absorbed. At a low pH, for example, the environment is acidic and aspirin is absorbed from the stomach almost as rapidly as water, but, as the pH of the stomach rises and the environment becomes more basic, aspirin is absorbed more slowly.
Water moves freely from the gastric contents across the gastric mucosa into the blood. The net absorption of water from the stomach is small, however, because water moves just as easily from the blood across the gastric mucosa to the lumen of the stomach. The absorption of water and alcohol can be slowed if the stomach contains foodstuffs and especially fats, probably because gastric emptying is delayed by fats, and most water in any situation is absorbed from the small intestine.
The rate of emptying of the stomach depends upon the physical and chemical composition of the meal. Fluids empty more rapidly than solids, carbohydrates more rapidly than proteins, and proteins more rapidly than fats.
When food particles are sufficiently reduced in size and are nearly soluble and when receptors in the duodenal bulb the area of attachment between the duodenum and the stomach have a fluidity and a hydrogen ion concentration of a certain level, the duodenal bulb and the second part of the duodenum relax, allowing emptying of the stomach to start.
During a duodenal contraction, the pressure in the duodenal bulb rises higher than that in the antrum. The pylorus prevents reflux into the stomach by shutting. The vagus nerve has an important role in the control of emptying, but there is some indication that the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system is also involved. Several of the peptide hormones of the digestive tract also have an effect on intragastric pressure and gastric movements, but their role in physiological circumstances is unclear.
The small intestine is the principal organ of the digestive tract. The primary functions of the small intestine are mixing and transporting of intraluminal contents, production of enzymes and other constituents essential for digestion, and absorption of nutrients.
Most of the processes that solubilize carbohydrates, proteins, and fats and reduce them to relatively simple organic compounds occur in the small intestine. We welcome suggested improvements to any of our articles. You can make it easier for us to review and, hopefully, publish your contribution by keeping a few points in mind.
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Absorption and emptying Although the stomach absorbs few of the products of digestion, it can absorb many other substances, including glucose and other simple sugars, amino acids, and some fat-soluble substances.
Third, there is your second brain — your gut's nervous system. Did you know your gut, actually contains MORE neurotransmitters than your brain? In fact, the gut has a brain of its own. It is called the "enteric nervous system" and it is a very sophisticated piece of your biology that is wired to your brain in intricate ways.
Messages constantly travel back and forth between your gut-brain and your head-brain, and when those messages are interfered with in any way your health will suffer. Fourth, your gut also has to get rid of all the toxins produced as byproducts of your metabolism , which your liver dumps into bile.
If things get backed up when you are constipated, you will become toxic and your health will suffer. And last but not least, your gut must break down all the food you eat into its individual components, separate out the vitamins and minerals, and shuttle everything across the one cell-thick layer mentioned above so it can get into your bloodstream and nourish your body and brain.
Your gut has quite a lot to manage. Even in perfect world it is hard to keep all of this in balance. But in our modern world there are endless insults that can knock our digestive systems off balance; it is that much more difficult to maintain excellent digestive health. To fix your digestion, you first need to understand what is sending your gut out of balance in the first place.
The list is short:. But what's important to understand is that many diseases that seem to be totally unrelated to the gut — such as eczema or psoriasis or arthritis — are actually CAUSED by gut problems.
By focusing on the gut, you can get better. Here is an example …. Allison, one of my patients who suffered from eczema — a weepy, red, oozing, scaly, itchy rash — all over her body is perfect example of what can happen when your gut is out of balance and the extraordinary level of healing that can occur when you fix your digestion.
This woman, who saw doctor after doctor, put salves, lotions, and potions on her skin and gave her steroids and antibiotics. But none of them ever addressed the underlying cause of her problem. Allison was 57 years old and had been suffering from severe, unrelenting eczema for eight years. She ate a high-sugar diet and had a history of frequent vaginal yeast infections. When I saw her, I checked her gut and found she had a leaky gut — that one-cell thick lining in her intestines was breached and wasn't working properly.
She had developed 24 IgG food allergies, and her stool had no healthy bacteria and an overgrowth of yeast from years of taking antibiotics. She also had very high blood levels of antibodies against yeast. So I helped her heal her gut. I asked her to stop eating the foods she reacted to, told her to stop feeding the yeast in her gastrointestinal tract by cutting out sugar and refined carbohydrates which they thrive on , and killed the yeast in her gut with antifungal medications and herbs.
Then I helped her rebuild her ecosystem of healthy bacteria with probiotics and provided here with healing gut nutrients that allowed her intestinal lining to resume its normal function. You can experience the same thing Allison did. You may be able to heal from many of your chronic symptoms simply by fixing your digestion.
Here is how you do it. Fixing your digestion may take some time, but it can be done. And it is absolutely essential if you want to achieve vibrant health.