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The digestive tract is closely connected with the immune system. It is important to maintain digestive health to support the body’s overall health. A gastroenterologist is a medical specialist that can help patients diagnose specific digestive issues. Digestive problems can cause a patient a lot of pain, and they have become quite common in the United States. This can be seen through statistics of poor nutrition and growing obesity rates.

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Diet Relating to Digestive Health

Poor nutrition and improper diets are actually the cause of certain digestive disorders. If an individual is not getting enough carbohydrates, then the body goes into overdrive while it digests fats. This releases a high amount of ketone bodies, which are the byproducts of broken down fats. The result is a build-up of acetone in the body which is known as ketosis. Typically diagnosed in conjunction with other symptoms, ketosis can be tough to pinpoint. Finding an effective treatment is urgent to prevent an increase in blood acidity and to minimize risk of a coma.

Gastric Juices

If gastric secretions are not sufficiently produced throughout the day, the body will have problems turning food into fuel.  Epithelial cells line the inside of the stomach, and they release about 2 liters of gastric juices every day. These gastric juices contain mucus, pepsinogen, and hydrochloric acid. The secretion of the main compounds is controlled by endocrine signals and nervous signals stemming from thoughts, smells, and caffeine.

Breaking Apart Protein

Hydrochloric acid does not directly digest stomach contents. It kills microorganisms and produces bicarbonate ions to lower the pH level of the stomach. By lowering the pH of the stomach, pepsinogen can be activated. Pepsinogen is the enzyme that begins all protein digestion. It breaks food down into a chyme, or a mix of stomach acid and food, that can be broken down further in the small intestine.

Mucus protects the epithelial cells on the delicate inner lining of the stomach. Pepsinogen becomes inactive when it comes into contact with the mucus. If the epithelial cells fail to produce enough mucus, or if the bicarbonate ions fail to reduce acidity near the stomach lining, an ulcer can result.

Breaking Down Fats

If gastric secretions are not sufficiently produced throughout the day, the body can have problems turning food into fuel. The gall bladder is in charge of storing bile from the liver and releasing it into the digestive system to break apart fats. If the secretions of the gall bladder thicken and mix with calcium, painful stones are produced. This blocks the flow of bile, causing inflammation and making it difficult for the body to digest fats.

 

Sources:

Farabee, Mike. The Digestive System. Estrella Mountain Community College, 18/05/2010. Web. 21 May 2012.
Paxton, Steve, ed. “Digestive System.” Introductory Anatomy. University of Leeds, 03/01/2006. Web. 21 May 2012.