Digestion is a complex system with many moving parts. This north to south process relies on a sequence of interdependent events. The process starts in the brain with signals that prepare the body for eating, as it smells food. The mouth and saliva then enter the game of breaking down the food into reasonable sized parts for digestion. The stomach prepares to receive the chewed food or bolus (the food as it reaches the stomach) and convert that into chyme (the mix that will enter the small intestine) by breaking down the mix with very strong Hydrochloric stomach acid.

 

The Failure to break down fats as well as the consumption of no fat or poor quality fat starts the road toward digestive dysfunction.  Most of the digestion of fats occurs in the upper portion of the small intestine (duodenum). This involves the liver, pancreas, and gallbladder. The liver produces bile and stores it in the gallbladder. As Fat in the chyme enters the lower stomach it stimulates the hormone CCK, which signals the gall bladder to prepare for bile release.  As the chyme enters the duodenum, the bile breaks down large lipids (fats) to small globules, allowing digestion by the pancreatic lipase contained in the pancreatic juices.  Any interruption of this process can have detrimental effects. For example, if you have a diet that is low in fat or contains poor sources of fat the bile will not be triggered and released. This causes some nasty thick bile to get jammed up in the gallbladder. After some time this might cause severe pain, gall stones, or lead to the removal of your gallbladder. It also leaves you fatty acid deficient.

 

This failure to properly digest and absorb fats continues south through the digestive process. Whether due to bad quality bile, poor liver function, or lack of pancreatic enzymes, these undigested/under digested fats cause havoc. Symptoms like greasy stools, very dry skin, gallbladder pain and nausea after eating may occur. Even more serious problems can be on the way if partially digested fats, bacteria and toxins seep through the walls of the small intestines, also called (leaky gut). This occurs when the lining of your small intestine (villi and microvilli) are unable to differentiate what to let through and therefore allow toxins and bacteria to escape into the bloodstream.  The first place these undesirable elements head is to the liver, putting a huge strain on that organ. The release also triggers the immune system to call in its big guns in the form of T cells, B cells, and antibodies and can cause a myriad of immune diseases such as Graves, arthritis, depression, and others.  These conditions actually cause the body to attack its own tissue in a response to what it perceives as foreign invaders. To combat this issue special diets and supplements will be needed to reboot the digestive system from north to south.  Areas of focus could include; improving your stomach acid, discovering your food allergies, ramping up pancreatic enzymes, or restoring colon health. Many take probiotics, and try to eliminate foods that cause an imbalance in gut bacteria.