Just like many of you (or, your kids), I started school yesterday. My two classes this term are Digestion & Detox, and Life Cycles & Anti-Aging. Both very interesting subjects that I am excited about. And as a bonus, the teachers are excellent!
We’re starting off by going into detail on the digestive system. It really is fascinating, and it’s so important for a nutritionist to have an in-depth understanding of how it all works. I’ll spare you the boring details, but there are some pretty interesting and relevant facts that I thought you guys might be interested in.
- The gastrointestinal (GI) tract can be thought of as a long tube that is open at both ends – the mouth and the anus. For this reason, it is actually considered to be outside of our body. Cool!
- Since our GI tract is considered to be outside of our body, the mucus layer lining it is technically our first line of defense against any bacteria, pathogens, or other invaders from the outside. Therefore, if our mucus lining is not in tact, we are more susceptible to sickness. In simpler terms, a weakened GI tract = a weakened immune system.
- There are more cells in the GI tract than anywhere else in the body.
- Stress and high cortisol levels can lead to an underactive digestive system – low absorption of nutrients, constipation, and other issues.
- Most nutrient absorption takes place in the small intestine, but alcohol is actually absorbed through the stomach lining (before it even reaches the small intestine). This is why you can take a drink on an empty stomach and immediately feel the effects. It’s also why people say you should “have a little something in your stomach” before you drink an alcoholic beverage. If there is food in your stomach, the alcohol will not be as quickly absorbed.
We also talked about the importance of our clients understanding that absolutely everything they decide to put into their bodies will affect them in some way. What you eat and drink is directly related to the health of your digestive system and therefore your overall health, and it is extremely important to make good decisions most of the time. A 5-mile run will not “cancel out” that enormous slice of chocolate cake or 6 beers you drank last night. I’m not saying you can’t enjoy yourself once in a while, but just remember that most of the time, we need to treat ourselves with care and eat foods that will promote health and balance inside our bodies.