Never Worry About Nutrition Again! New Service Announcement.
Food, something we all love to talk about! Eating and drinking are acts that we perform every day and multiple times per day. The types of food we eat and the types of liquids we drink, all affect the health levels of our bodies and our minds. Today, between 90% to 95% (read those numbers again) of all chronic diseases in North America come from poor nutrition and lack of exercise.
Healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and unsaturated fats should be favored because they contain a variety of nutrients needed for generating optimal energy levels. Unhealthy food choices, such as processed foods, fast food, soda drinks and candy, do not provide enough nutrients to the body and often leaves us with lower energy levels.
I believe that through education and dietary guidance, you can learn which food choices are best for your body. This does not necessarily mean going on a diet, but rather developing a habit of making healthy food choices, which leads to a healthy lifestyle. Once something becomes a lifestyle, it is a part of your routine and you simply just live this way. Of course, willingness to change is a big factor but fortunately, once we know better, we can do better.
Therefore, in this article, I will provide further information to help you understand the body's digestive system & what’s going on in your body when you eat. I also cover the main classes of nutrients the body needs and which are the best foods to eat in order to get all these nutrients.
Plus keep reading until the end for the new service I am offering.
How does the digestive system work?
Here is the organization of the anatomy of the digestive system, step by step. The gastrointestinal (GI) tract runs through the thoracic, abdominal and pelvic cavities.
The main organs involved in the digestive system include the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine (or colon), the rectum and the anus. There are also accessory digestive organs such as the liver, gallbladder and pancreas, which never come into contact with the food but still play key functions in the digestive system.
The mouth is the entry point of food and liquid in the GI tract. Next, we have the pharynx which forms the passageway for the food we swallow, pushing it into the esophagus. The esophagus then transports the food into our stomach, which connects the esophagus to the first part of the small intestine. The small intestine is responsible for 80% to 90% of all nutrient absorption in the body; the other 20%-10% occur in the stomach and large intestine. The large intestine is the terminal portion of the GI tract, where mechanical and chemical digestions are completed. Once completed, the food we have eaten reaches the rectum where it has become solid or semisolid and is now called feces. Finally, feces gets excreted through the anus, which is the sphincter that guards and controls the end of the GI tract. This concludes the process from the moment the food enters our body to the moment it gets excreted from the body.
What is the process of digestion?
The process of digestion is divided into two major categories: mechanical and chemical.
Mechanical digestion describes the various movements used to mix, degrade and physically push food throughout the body. Acts of mechanical digestion include:
Ingestion: putting food and liquid in the mouth.
Mastication: chewing and tearing food with the teeth.
Deglutition: swallowing the food once it has been chewed.
Peristalsis: successive contractions allowing the propulsion of food and secretions towards the anus.
Mass movement: strong muscle contraction allowing to excrete the feces out of the body.
Chemical digestion refers to the various chemical reactions that happen to the food once it enters different parts of the GI tract. Digestive enzymes, hydrochloric acid and sodium bicarbonate are some examples of chemicals used in this process. These chemicals allow for absorption, breakdown and release of nutrients.
The six main classes of nutrients
As we have mentioned above, the mechanical and chemical digestion of food releases various nutrients. Nutrients are chemicals that provide the body with energy, promotes bone growth, tissue repair and cell regeneration. The six main classes of nutrients are carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, vitamins, minerals and water. Let’s understand what each type nutrient offers to the body and what type of foods to eat for each category.
Carbohydrates: also called glucose, represent the main source of energy for the body. We can find large amounts of carbs in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. A healthy diet will include complex carbohydrates such as barley, quinoa and oats instead of refined wheat flour and sugar.
Proteins: in the digestive tract, proteins are broken down into amino acids which are used in the body to build and repair muscle tissue. Since the body cannot form essential amino acids itself, our diet must provide them. Protein products such as eggs, fish, chicken, meat, legumes, milk and milk products are good sources of protein since they contain all 9 essential amino acids.
In order to provide the body with all 9 essential amino acids, a vegetarian or vegan must ingest a wide variety of whole grains, fruits and vegetables, which is attainable.
Lipids: also known as fats, are needed to build cell membranes and to secrete hormones and enzymes. They can also be stored in the body and eventually used as a source of energy. A healthy diet must limit the amount of saturated fats, aka “bad fats” (animal fat, palm oil, etc.) and favor unsaturated or polyunsaturated fats, aka “good fats” (olive oil, flaxseed oil, omega 3 fatty acids).
Vitamins: vitamins are found in minute quantities in the body and like amino acids, our diet must provide vitamins for the body. Vitamins play a crucial role in maintaining homeostasis for all systems in the body including the digestive system, cardiovascular system, endocrine system and more. Our daily diet must provide enough vitamin A, B, C, D, E and K, which come from leafy greens, a variety of colorful fruits and vegetables, omega 3 fatty acids, seeds, nuts and whole grains.
Minerals: play a key role in cellular equilibrium including muscle contractions, nerve impulses, hormone secretions, blood pressure, etc. Essential minerals in a healthy diet include sodium, potassium, calcium, zinc and magnesium. Fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs are excellent sources of minerals and should always be added to your dish.
Water: Water is essential to life; it plays a key role in the fluid levels and temperature equilibrium of the body. Water is used as a lubricant and solvent when it comes to digesting food. Ingestion of water for an average adult should be 1 to 2 liters a day and water should always be the choice of beverage while eating. This ensures maximum breakdown,
absorption and release of nutrients in the body.
Did you know? After a massage, it is always suggested to drink 1 or 2 glasses of water in order to enhance renal functions and promotes metabolic waste excretion.
Massage and the Digestive System
There are many positive physiological effects when massaging the abdomen, from relieving constipation to significantly initiating relaxation of the nervous system. Massage of the abdomen should follow the direction of intestinal transit, meaning following the natural flow of excretion. To obtain the most benefit, the massage therapist should be placed on the right side of the client, at the level of the waist, and perform maneuvers such as effleurages, petrissages, drainages and sliding along the colon trajectory to enhance digestive functions.
However, it is contra-indicated to massage the abdomen if the person has been diagnosed with conditions such as Chron’s disease and ulcerative colitis as ulcers or abscess formation are present. The massage therapist will also avoid abdominal massage if the client recently suffered from an episode of diarrhea.
For individuals who experience bloating, cramps, diarrhea, constipation, hip or lumbar pain after a stressful trigger, a relaxation massage to calm down the nervous system is especially recommended. This can help the client’s overall state of well-being without having to touch the abdominal area, yet still having a significantly positive effect on it.
New Service Announcement
The main reason I chose to write this article today is to introduce to you the new service I am offering! Ever since creating thebodyblog.ca, I have been working hard behind the scenes, reading, researching, studying and writing to be able to provide the best possible information to you. I believe in giving proper health advice sincerely, passionately and advantageously.
So, take advantage of my new Nutrition Counselling Service as I have recently become a Certified Nutritionist! I have always received nutrition training during my 15 years in the health and wellness industry, but this makes it official!
Book an appointment with me for Nutrition Counselling and together we will:
Calculate your body mass index (BMI).
Identify your eating habits and food choices.
Discover "The Plate Method".
Review and monitor any diagnosed dis-eases, such as diabetes, cancer or cardiovascular disease.
Review and monitor any eating disorders, such as anorexia, bulimia or binge eating.
Evaluate your priorities.
Establish your nutrition goals.
Correct, avoid or add certain foods to your diet related to your goals.
Achieve specific metabolic effects, such as weight loss, weight gain or eliminating cellulite.
Obtain symptom relief of gastrointestinal discomfort, such as chronic bloating or cramping.
PLUS get a custom shopping list or 7-day meal plan that I provide for you!
Remember, this is not a diet! These are steps towards healthy lifestyle choices that are sustainable, which means you will be able to maintain these habits for good! No more yo-yo dieting or fad diets. Together, we can achieve a nutrient profile which offers you greater health benefits and a new perspective on your relationship with food.
For more general information, please visit my Nutrition page on Pinterest.
To book an appointment, please check out my Services page.