Brief description of the digestive system
Digestive system consists of several organs responsible for the break down and elimination of chemical components of foods: Stomach, Pancreas, Liver, Gallbladder, Small Intestine, and Large Intestine.
Digestion begins in the mouth, where saliva, a watery mixture of mucus, and enzymes moistens and lubricates masticated food. The second step of digestion occurs in the stomach, where gastric juices are secreted and mixed with the food to produce a liquid substance called chime. The chime travels from the stomach into the duodenum, where it is treated by additional enzymes produced by the liver and pancreas. Our liver manufactures bile (to help digest fats), which is stored in the gall bladder and flows through the bile duct into the duodenum. The pancreas produces and releases enzymes for protein and carbohydrate digestion. After the chime is treated with pancreatic enzymes and bile, it travels through the small intestine, where some additional enzymes are secreted by the intestinal wall and the process of digestion ends. Absorption takes place in the small intestine. Water is removed in the large intestine.
Symptoms such as bloating, gas, constipation, and diarrhea, are mostly attributed to poor digestion.
IBS (IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME), is a functional disorder characterized by abdominal pain and alteration in bowel habits. "Up to 20% of the adult population has symptoms compatible with the diagnosis, but most never seek medical attention. It is a common problem presenting to both the gastroenterologist and the primary physician." (Current Medical Diagnosis and Treatment, 37th Edition, chapter 14, p602).
Some of the reasons causing digestive disorders are:
- Gastritis, resulting from poisons and irritants, peptic and acute ulcers, etc. Various foods, alcohol, aspirin, drugs and toxins may cause gastritis. Emotional stress has been implicated as one cause of abnormal pepsin secretion. High consumption of aspirin is also a possible suspect. No one person is more at risk than another for developing ulcers, though the tendency toward stress and hypertension does seem to run in families.
- Deficiency of bile. Liver malfunction or diseases. Many chemicals or drugs may cause severe injury to the liver. Alcohol is one of the most common reasons for irreversible liver changes.
- Blockage of biliary tract (gallbladder inflammation, obstruction, gallstones, infections).
- Deficiency of the pancreatic enzymes. Fatty infiltration of the pancreas is quite common in obesity and may be to a severe degree.
- Gut: lack of peristaltic movement, colon inflammation, obstructions, etc. In the absence of any obstruction, a dynamic ileus is a condition in which there is loss of peristalsis in the intestine. Chronic intestinal pseudo-obstruction is a syndrome characterized by symptoms and signs of intestinal obstruction in the absence of any mechanical lesions.