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The Digestive System
The Body's Power Plant
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   The digestive system is the means by which the body transforms food into the energy it needs to build, repair and fuel itself. On average, an adult body processes roughly 2 1/2 gallons of digested food, liquids and digestive secretions each day.
     Digestion begins in the mouth, where food is chewed by the teeth and mixed with saliva. The saliva helps lubricate both the mouth and the food and dissolves food particles to enhance taste and facilitate swallowing.  Saliva also cleanses the mouth. 
     Chewing is important because as food is ground into increasingly fine particles, digestive juices containing enzymes mix with it. The more thoroughly food is chewed, the more complete the digestive functions are that occur at this point. 
     Once food is swallowed, it travels through the throat or pharynx to the esophagus. Both the pharynx and the esophagus are muscular tubes that work through a series of contractions to move the food along and eventually empty it into the stomach. The stomach then churns it into a paste called chyme, which is easier to digest. Some of the components of the food, such as water and sugar, are absorbed directly from the stomach into the bloodstream.
     The next stop is the pyloric sphincter, which serves as the gateway to the small intestines. The digestion of starches, proteins and fat occurs in the small intestine with the help of secretions that originate in the pancreas, liver and intestinal villi. 

How different nutrients are digested
     Carbohydrates (starches and sugars), proteins and fats are made up of extremely complex molecules that must be broken down or digested in order to be useful to the body. The process of digestion changes starches and complex sugars into simple sugars, proteins into amino acids, and fats into fatty acids and glycerin. In these forms the nutrients can finally be absorbed into the bloodstream. The digestion of carbohydrates begins in the mouth. Saliva contains the enzyme ptyalin, which changes some of the starches into sugar and makes them available to the bloodstream. The process continues in the stomach.
     Proteins begin the digestive process only after reaching the stomach.  This is due to the presence of hydrochloric acid and another enzyme called pepsin.The stomach is lined with a durable mucous coating that protects it from hydrochloric acid and other gastric juices. Ulcers form when a portion of this mucous lilning wears thin, and the digestive juices aggravate the stomach.
     Only a small amount of absorption occurs between the stomach and the bloodstream; most of it takes place after the contents have moved on to the small intestine, where it is met by pancreatic secretions that contain the enzymes amylase, trypsin and lipase. Amylase works to change starch into simple sugars, trypsin breaks down partially digested proteins, and lipase splits fats into fatty acids and glycerin.
    In addition to these fluids, the intestinal walls produce secretions that, while more mild than pancreatic juices, perform similar functions. Bile, which is produced in the liver and stored in the gall bladder, also flows into the small intestine through the bile duct. Bile helps to further digest and absorb fats. In addition to producing bile, the liver stores fats, carbohydrates, proteins and vitamins. It also absorbs poisons and toxic substances before neutralizing them. 

Examining the Digestive System in More Detail
    About 90 percent of absorption takes place in the small intestine. Food is digested when it has been broken down into particles small enough to be absorbed by the tiny blood and lymph capillaries located in the walls of the small intestine. From there the nourishment is circulated to all the cells in the body. 
     The circulatory system carries nutrients from the small intestine to the cells of the body. The small intestine is lined with tiny fingerlike projections called villi and tinier cytoplasmic projections called microvilli. These villi increase the surface area of the intestine and allow for more efficient nutrient absorption. The average adult's small intestine is 10-13 feet long, and about one inch in diameter. Because of the villi and microvilli, the total surface area of the small intestine is about 180 square meters - just smaller than a tennis court.
     The first 10 inches of the small intestine is known as the duodenum; it is the most important section in digestion. Here, enzyme secretions from the pancreas and bile secretions from the liver mix with the food and break down carbohydrates, proteins and fats into smaller units. The body can assimiliate these nutrients in smaller forms and use them for energy. The duodenum also secretes lactase to digest milk products, and sucrase and maltase to break down sugars.
     The next sections of the small intestine are the jejunum and the ileum. In this combined 9-12 foot segment, and additional 2-3 liters of intestinal juices are secreted each day. Because food particles have to be a certain size before they can be absorbed into the bloodstream, digestion and assimilation in this section can take several hours. The villi and microvilli absorb tiny nutrients that travel through the lymph vessels or into capillaries for transport to the liver. After the liver filters and processes these nutrients, they are sent throughout the body.
     The pancreas is an important part of the digestive process, producing approximately three pints of digestive juices each day. These juices pass through the pancreatic duct into the small intestine. This organ also controls the amount of sugar in the blood by secreting two hormones, glucagon and insulin. Insulin and glucagon work as a check-and-balance system, regulating the body's blood sugar level.
     The liver is also critical to digestion. It is located in the right side of the upper abdomen, under the diaphragm. This is the largest internal organ in the body, weighing about 3-4 pounds. The liver is composed of groups of cells called lobules. Anywhere from 50,000-100,000 lobules make up the liver, and each lobule has a central vein that drains blood into the hepatic veins, which eventually carry it to the heart. The liver produces bile, which breaks down, or emulsifies, fats. Bile drains from the liver lobules into the branches of the bile ducts that lead to the gallbladder, where it is stored.
     All told, the liver performs more than 500 functions, many of them of a processing or storage nature. The liver processes potential poisons for removal from the body, including alcohol and drugs. It also breaks down old red blood cells and reprocesses body substances, extracting iron from hemoglobin, and reusing amino acids.
     The liver stores carbohydrates as glycogen, which can be quickly converted into glucose (for energy) if needed by the brain, muscles or other organs. It also stores certain nutrients like vitamins (A, B-complex, B12, D, E and K), releasing them into the blood when the body needs them. These reserves can last several months. The proteins albumen, globulin and fibrinogen - all components of blood plasma - are also manufactured in the liver.

Factors in digestive health
     There are many ways to abuse and weaken the digestive system.  Overeating, constant snacking and diluting digestive secretions with liquids can all place undue stress on digestive organs. Eating too fast or feelings of emotional stress may adversely affect digestion. In addition, as people age, the amount of hydrochloric acid (HCI) their bodies produce decreases.The decrease starts between ages 35-45. By age 55, almost everyone has low levels of HCI.
    Heredity may also be a factor in digestive health. Some people begin life with digestive organs predisposed to problems. Of course, when this is the case, any kind of abuse only compounds the problem.

Digestion & Enzymes
The digestive system is responsible for breaking down food to glean nutrients important to the body. The food we eat must be digested and assimilated properly in order to maintain adequate energy levels. The body needs three major types of food compounds in order to function properly:  carbohydrates, proteins and fats. 
     The stomach, which is responsible for preliminary digestion, prepares food for complete digestion in the small intestine.
Enzymes secreted from the various organs of the system act as catalysts in breaking down food into compounds the body can use. In addition, hydrochloric acid (HCI) is needed in order to break down food. However, the body's ability to produce HCI decreases by the age of 35 and continues to decrease with age.
     Digestive tissues maintain the ability to function properly when we obtain sufficient amounts of the antioxidant vitamins and other substances, such as carotenoids (found in fruits, vegetable, grains and cereals). Cruciferous vegetables, such as cabbage and broccoli, provide substances that are especially important for these tissues. Also, it is important for these tissues to get adequate dietary fiber and to avoid excessive dietary fat. Fiber helps maintain good tone in these tissues, which is essential for digestion.
Products which Nutritionally support the Digestive System:
NSP Product Search
All Cell Detox
     (Special Formula #1)
Anti Gas Formula (AG-X)
Anti-Gas, Chinese  (AG-C)
Capsicum Liquid
Capsicum & Garlic with Parlsey
Catnip & Fennel
Charcoal, Activated
Digestive Bitters Tonic
Gall Bladder Formula (BLG-X)
Gastro Health (Herbal H-p Fighter)
Heavy Metal Detox
HP Fighter
Liver Cleanse Formula (LIV-A)
Liver Balance, Chinese  (LIV-C)
Milk Thistle Combination
Milk Thistle Time Release
Nature's Noni  capsules (Morinda)
Nature's Noni (Morinda, 16 oz)
Nature's Noni (Morinda, 32 oz)
Nature's Hoodia Formula
Oregon Grape Liquid
Papaya Mint Chewable Tablets
Peppermint Oil (.17 fl. oz)
Potassium Combination
Slippery Elm
Slippery Elm Bulk (7 oz)
Small Intestine Detox
   (Marshmallow & Pepsin)
Spleen Activator (UC-C)
Stomach Comfort
Target P-14

Essential Oils:
Sooth, Refresh & Rejuvenate
the Digestive System

Cinnamon Essential Oil (5 ml)
Clary Sage Essential Oil (5 ml)
Clove Bud Bio Essential Oil (5 ml)
Peppermint Essential Oil (5 ml)
Rosemary Essenitial Oil (5 ml)

NSP's Probiotics:
Acidophilus, Milk-Free
Bifidophilus-Flora Force
Probiotic Eleven

NSP's  Enzyme Products:
Food Enzymes Capsules
Hi Lipase
Lactase Plus
PDA Capsules
Proactazyme Plus
Probiotic Eleven
Protease, High Potency
Protease Plus
S.O.D. With Gliadin
What are Enzymes?
Enzymes are complex organic substances produced in plants and animals that catalyze (speed up) chemical reactions in cells and organs. The digestive enzymes work with the body fluids to break down large chemical chains into smaller particles. The body is then able to absorb and utilize these smaller food particles. 
Digestive Enzymes
The importance of enzymes
    Enzymes are the catalyst of all chemical changes that occur in the body. They are found in both the food we eat and in our bodies.  Without enzymes, body functions would be too slow to sustain life. Unfortunately, although they are absolutely essential, each person is born with a limited potential for enzymes. That's why maintaining an adequate supply of enzymes plays such an important role in supporting the health of the body. 
     When the enzymes that exist naturallly in foods are destroyed by heat, wilting or other abuse prior to digestion, the body must create new ones before it can properly digest the food. One the best ways to help maintain a healthy supply of enzymes in the digestive system is to eat fresh, raw fruits and vegetables as often as possible. In addition to the enzymes these foods contain, fruit and vegetables are a rich source of the vital coenzymes (vitamins) needed by the body on a constant basis.

Oral Cavity
- The salivary glands produce amylase to begin breakdown of food in the mouth.
Stomach - Stores and mixes food with HCI to break down food into a usable form.
Small Intestine - Absorbs nutrients from food.
Pancreas - Secretes pancreatic juice that aids in the digestive process; also an endocrine gland that regulates blood sugar.
Gall Bladder - Stores and regulates the release of concentrated bile as needed for the breakdown of fat.
Liver- Collects and stores nutrients from the small intestine and converts them to energy for nourishment of the body.
Eat Raw Vegetables & Fruit several times a day. Eating  veggies and fruit raw provide the best nutrients, enzymes, and fiber. Avoid canned fruits packed in heavy syrup and processed commerical fruit juices. If you must cook your vegetables, use very little water and cook for as short a time as possible so they retain their nutrients.
LifeStyle Suggestions:
• Avoid Caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks.
• Eat raaw fruits and vegetables rich in enzymes.
• Avoid overeating.
• Eat no later than 2-3 hours before bedtime.
• Avoid resting after meals.
If you have four or more of the following indications, you may consider nutritional aid to the digestive system.
• Lake of energy
• Body odor and/or bad breath
• Difficulty digesting certain foods
• food allergies
• Poor resistance to disease
• Belching or gas after meals
• Skin/complexion problems
• Lack of a balanced diet
• Less than two bowel movements per day
• Lack of appetite
• Brittle or easily broken fingernails
• Dry, damaged or dull hair
• High-fat diet
• Food/Chemical sensitivities
• Recurrent yeast/fungal infections
• Weak bones, teeth or cartilage
• Suffer from anxiety or worry
Did you Know?
• 60-70 million Americans suffer from digestive disease (National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse).
• Americans spent $107 billion on drugs and antacids to fight digestive ailments in 1992.
• 70-year-olds may produce as little as half the enzymes they produced when they were 20.
• By age 50, many people will produce only 15 percent of the hydrocholoric acid they produced at age 25. About one-third of all people over the age of 65 secrete almost no hydrochloric acid!
• Silymarin, a mixture of bioflavonoids found in the plant milk thistle, helps protect the liver. Clinical studies show that silymarin has antitoxic properties and is effective in preventing liver damage.
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