This is the second article in a five part series devoted to digestion where we have been following a nutritionally poor meal, typical of America, from the mouth to the esophagus to the stomach. We have seen that the food enters the mouth where enzymes are added via sublingual glands. The meal then moves through the esophagus where it is warmed, and then to the stomach where pre-digestion takes place. We will follow this nutritionally poor meal into the stomach.

Food is chewed in the mouth and saliva is mixed with this food. Saliva is made up of an alkaline electrolyte solution that moistens the food, mucus that serves as a lubricant, amylase, an enzyme that initiates the digestion of starch, lipase, an enzyme that begins the digestion of fat, and protease, which digests protein. Most carbohydrates are broken down by the process of chewing the food and mixing it with enzymes. Hopefully that food had viable enzymes to mix with the enzymes supplied by the mouth.

Pre-digestion in the Stomach

Here is where the food that Americans typically eat leads us directly to disease. By eating mostly refined cooked foods with meat we let our body down. It is like a very good friend of yours is lying in front of you dying of thirst and you hand him a glass of salt water. It is water but it will gradually kill him.

Below I am going to trace the food's path as it moves into the stomach, and see what happens to it and how it is treated by the stomach and the rest of the digestive system. This is information that few Americans know about. When I received this information my mind was shocked and I immediately changed my style of eating completely and for life. So please read and I pray that this powerful truth changes your life as it did mine. After swallowing the food, it moves down the esophagus, which is 18 to 24 inches long. The esophagus moves through the warm core of the body and is responsible for warming the food to close to body temperature, which is ideally 98.6. This is very important as enzymes digest food best at between 94 and 104 degrees. So, if the ideal situation exists in the esophagus (ice water is not added to the food) the food is warmed to somewhere between 96 and 98 degrees before it enters the stomach.

This food enters the stomach through the cardiac sphincter, which is where the esophagus and the stomach meet. An empty stomach is like a flattened balloon until food enters it. As the food enters the upper part of the stomach, it stretches and enlarges to accommodate the food. In fact, the stomach will enlarge beyond the size of the meal until it is fully inflated. While the stomach is inflating to its full size which takes somewhere between 40 to 60 minutes, pre-digestion takes place. Pre-digestion, is the food sitting in the stomach being digested by the enzymes that came with it. The ideal ph here is about seven, very alkaline. This pre-digestion is considered by many nutritionists to be the most important stage of digestion. This is where the enzymes from our food and mouth digest and prepare the food for absorption.

What are Enzymes?

Before we go any further I would like you to understand why enzymes are so important. The answer to this question is crucial to you understandingyour health. Understand this and you understand why the type of food you eat and the way it is handled is so important. Your energy, strength, immune system and all the systems of your body right down to each individual cell depend completely on enzymes. Without enzymes nothing happens in your body, or if it does it could take years to take place; essentially you are dead.

The enzymes we use are both produced by cells in our body and also brought in with food made by other living cells. These enzymes are proteins produced in living cells that affect chemical reactions. An example of this is a banana sitting in a bowl. After a few days, you notice the skin turning brown. That is the enzymes in the banana acting as a catalyst and causing a chemical reaction which releases energy.

Without these reactions caused by the enzymes the food you eat will not be turned into energy or supplies for the body. Here are just some of the other functions of enzymes in the body. All our vitamins, trace elements and minerals are dissolved down to molecular level by enzymes. Only at that level can they and our food be absorbed by our body. They also control digestion, cell growth, and wound healing plus the phagocytes of the immune system use enzymes to cope with pathogens.

Once the stomach completes the pre-digestive process, the food then undergoes chemical and mechanical digestion. Here in the lower part of the stomach, peristaltic contractions (mechanical digestion) churn the bolus, which mixes with strong digestive juices. These juices include powerful hydrochloric acid, which helps break down the bolus into a liquid called chyme. In addition, enzymes called pepsin and cathepsin are added to the juice in the stomach to break down most of the protein in the food. This process can take several hours depending on the meal eaten. The ideal ph here is about three, very acidic.

The hydrochloric acid has three purposes. The first is to break down mineral bonds from our diet. Now when they pass through our intestines they are small enough to pass through the wall to be used by the body. Second, to clean the food of pathogens by creating an acidic environment that destroys the pathogens. Third, change pepsinogen into pepsin, which breaks down the long protein strings that are the essential and non-essential amino acids in the food. These are broken down by pepsin into polypeptides, peptides and tri-peptides so they can be utilized by our body.

Once the food is broken down, it has the consistency of cake batter. This is called chyme and is released into the duodenum by the pyloric sphincter. If this chyme is properly prepared at the stomach your health is good and you never get sick. If the chyme is not properly prepared disease will soon follow and the person will find all their genetic weaknesses. This is why digestive enzymes and pre-digestion are such important keys to good health.

Author's Bio: 

Paul Blake is a doctor of herbal medicine and a master herbalist. He used naturopathic medicine to treat his own case of cancer eighteen years ago. Visit Paul's website on Herbal Remedies, Natural Healing Herbs for more interesting information on improving your health, or find more information about digestive enzymes and food enzymes.