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Digestion Begins Where? by Jordan Rubin

The gastrointestinal tract is designed to help the body break down food and absorb its nutrients. If you stretch the digestive tract from end to end, it would measure 25 to 35 feet long—and it needs every inch to break down food and to pass the food’s nutrients through its walls to the bloodstream. The nutrients are then distributed throughout the body by way of the bloodstream. What’s left over is expelled.

But where does digestion begin? You might be surprised.

We generally believe that digestion begins in the mouth—and we all know where it ends. However, did you know that digestion really begins with the nose and to some extent the eyes?

Here’s why: Before taking that first bite of food, you smell and see it, and the salivary glands in your mouth go to work and produce saliva. By the time the food enters your mouth, saliva is ready and waiting to start the digestive process.

Saliva and the Importance of Chewing Your Food Well

Saliva is so important in digestion—and here are some reasons:

* Saliva dissolves food.

* The mucus in saliva adheres to food to make it slippery.

* Saliva lubricates food so that the food doesn’t damage the lining of the esophagus as it passes through.

* Saliva washes food debris from the mouth and keeps the mouth clean.

* Like other parts of the digestive system, saliva contains enzymes that break down food. * One enzyme in saliva, called salivary amylase, breaks down carbohydrates. (Undigested and unhealthy carbohydrates in the gut are a source of many intestinal ailments.)

And . . . while we’re at it . . . did you know that by chewing food thoroughly, you not only lower risk of getting an intestinal disease but also can avoid an upset stomach?

Here’s how: If you do not chew your food well, then your food arrives in your stomach in chunks. The acid in the stomach has a more difficult time breaking down chunks of food than it does properly chewed food. Subsequently, the enzymes in the small intestine cannot break down the food adequately, the food isn’t properly digested, and the nutrients in the food are not properly absorbed.

The longer you chew your food, the more saliva enters your mouth. As more saliva enters, more enzymes go to work on the food you are chewing. Chewing increases the surface area of food and makes it easier to digest. Chewing also strengthens the immune system since the movements of the jaw stimulate the parotid glands, located behind the ears, which release hormones that tell the thymus gland to produce T-cells. The T-cell, a white blood cell, is crucial for fighting infections.

Surprised? We thought you might be.

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Common Makers Diet Jordan Rubin misspellings are Jordan Ruben, Jordan Reuben, Jordon Rubin, Jordon Ruben, or Jordon Reuben