The Process of Digestion and Conditions which may Impair It.
In Digestive Health 101, I made the case for the critical importance of the digestive processes for health and well-being. In this segment, I discuss digestive dysfunction, which can lead to forms of malnutrition, metabolic disorders and reduced well-being.
Dentists claim, “All health begins in the mouth,” and I support that claim. Without healthy teeth and the ability to adequately chew food, digestive processes are substantially impaired.
Adequately chewed or not, food entering the stomach now depends on the presence of a hormone called gastrin, vitamin B12, vitamin D, neurotransmitter signals, secretion of pepsin and an intact stomach lining to perform at optimal levels. Stomach and intestinal surgery, diabetes, gastritis, irritable bowel syndrome, excessive alcohol consumption and use of tobacco products are the leading reasons for digestive dysfunction at this level.
Intact intestinal, liver and pancreatic function is necessary for optimal digestion in the small intestine. Certain autoimmune disorders, pancreatitis (generally brought on by excessive alcohol use), intestinal surgery, diabetes, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, lactose and glucose intolerance, and vitamin B12 deficiency provide the reasons for digestive dysfunction and malnutrition in the small intestine.
Correction of these disorders along the digestive tract may reverse the consequences. For example, dentures or dental implants should improve the breakdown of food. Discontinuation of tobacco and alcohol serve to reduce the digestive impairments created by these substances. Control of diabetes and management of inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome may likewise improve digestive dysfunction.
In some instances, replacement of digestive enzymes and the utilization of probiotics can reverse or improve the impact of digestive impairments as well as malabsorption brought on by inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome.