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View index & support for the most Common Health Issues

The Digestive System Explained

Reprinted fromNature's Field
By W. Jean Rohrer

Important... please visit this page as well

“Plop, plop! Fizz, fizz!” Goes the old commercial. “Oh! I ate too much!” “Yuk!” We gasp with a grimace as we slug down one of the chalky tasting and chalk-bases antacids. Long distance commutes to work which prevent eating at home; schedules that don’t allow adequate time to eat and digest properly; meals comprised of fast foods loaded with salt and fat; alcohol, smoking (believe it or not!), high stress levels—all assault our being.

Then there are the assorted prescription and over-the-counter drugs we take for our assorted ailments. Many cause direct problems for the digestive system; more affect parts of the system adversely in less direct ways. And you cannot outrun your genetic patterns. Consistent increases in both gastric and duodenal ulcers does not seem limited to shared environment.

The combination of factors assures us that most of us experience indigestion, sometimes on a regular basis. Over-the-counter sales of liquid antacids and acid blockers such as Pepcid and Zantac are skyrocketing, indicating the digestive system is assaulted and overwhelmed and cannot perform its functions properly.



General-purpose enzyme supplement.
It is to assist in the digestion of
most food types (except dairy).


Food Enzymes

People over 30
often have less digestive HCI and fewer pancreatic digestive enzymes. Enzymes to digest Proteins, Carbs and Fats.


Digestive Bitters

Enhances Secretion of Digestive Juices, Improves Absorption of Nutrients, Stimulates and Cleanses the Liver and Gall Bladder.

Hydrochloric Acid Deficiency (by Georgiana Duncan)
(a very common digestive issue!)

Since hydrochloric acid is necessary for the breakdown of proteins in the stomach, an inadequate amount can lead to the possibility of undigested proteins being absorbed into the blood stream from the small intestines.
When it enters into the body, any foreign protein, will cause toxic reactions if not properly detoxified or digested.

Additionally, the effects can appear as minor allergies. The allergies are a direct result of the body's defense mechanism in the blood - the antibodies - which engulf or neutralize the undigested protein. During this process, a toxin known as histamine is released which normally would be neutralized by an antihistamine produced by the liver. However, if the liver is toxic and overloaded, insufficient antihistamine will be released and the histamine will irritate delicate membranes, causing swollen eyes, stuffy noses, and/or skin blotches. 

If hydrochloric acid is present in adequate amounts and the liver is strong enough to produce antihistamine properly, these food allergies can be eliminated. 

Hydrochloric acid is also necessary for calcium metabolism. Without sufficient HCL to break down the combined calciums we take in our food, the calcium remains an insoluble compound which the body cannot assimilate. This explains why some people take bottle after bottle of calcium supplements and still have a calcium deficiency. 

A very common effect of poor calcium metabolism is canker sore, those irritating white patches in the delicate membrane lining of the mouth. The addition of hydrochloric acid and a calcium supplement will usually clears these up in 48 hours. 

This same lack of assimilation is true of all other minerals when sufficient hydrochloric acid is not present in the stomach. So for optimum mineral assimilation, consider hydrochloric acid supplementation. 

If one has sufficient hydrochloric acid in the stomach, illness-causing bacteria in food will be neutralized and food poisoning avoided. Whenever eating in restaurants, always take HCL supplements and avoid those dreaded symptoms of nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.

One of least recognized effects of hydrochloric acid deficiency is the lowering of resistance to infections including pyorrhea, nephritis, boils, abscess, and pneumonia. Dr. Burr Ferguson, M.D. brought rapid repair in conditions such as abscesses, osteitis and tuberculosis with hydrochloric acid supplementation. This clearly demonstrates that HCL is nature's antiseptic. 
Reference: Kurt W. Donsbach, PhD, D.C. 
Nature's Sunshine Products offers hydrochloric acid in the products called PDA and Food Enzymes

Digestion Destroyers 

Our stomach produces less HCL as we grow older. We have also destroyed the enzymes that produce HCL by the foods we eat. We can also have poor digestion and not be old! 

Alcohol produces acid with a burning effect on the stomach lining, and causes inflammation. This is why alcoholics have gastritis problems. Also destroys B-Vitamins. 

Over-the-counter sales of liquid antacids and acid blockers such as Pepcid and Zantac are skyrocketing, indicating the digestive system is assaulted and overwhelmed and cannot perform its functions properly. They reduce HCL in the stomach and prevent protein from being digested, in other words they get rid of the symptoms but not the cause! 

Chlorinated Water
Interferes with digestion. If digestion is a problem, change to pure water and the digestive formulas will work better. 

Cola Drinks & Coffee
They each contain an acid which signals the stomach that acid is already present, and then it thinks that it does not have to produce it's hydrochloric acid which is what digests food. 

Drinking liquids with meals dilutes HCL (hydrochloric acid) in the stomach so there is not enough to digest food adequately. Years ago, no one drank liquids with a meal. 

Processed Food
It is thought that one cause of gastric ulcers is processed food. It lacks natural fiber and protein, but is high in calories. It also has flavor enhancing additives that are hard on the liver and preservatives that prevent digestion. Natural food is one of your best protections against stomach problems. 

Stress or Worry
These have an effect of reducing enzyme production. Do not eat when you are worried or under stress. If you need to eat, only eat foods that are easy to digest. 

Weight Problems 
A poor digestive system can be a contributing factor to obesity. When we do not completely digest certain fats and proteins, they can be stored as body fat. When the body does not obtain what it needs it constantly tries to obtain it by creating a never-ending appetite! 

Digestive System Overview

The digestive system is a complex organization requiring the coordinated functioning of many independent organs. Much like an automobile factory, the raw materials are taken in, acted upon by various tools/ chemicals/agents and slowly the materials are changed into the desired product, in this case usable nutrients. Since most foods are not available in readily digestible forms, the digestive system must physically grind and chemically break down the molecules into usable form. Although some authors consider the digestive system to include the colon or large intestine, in this segment we shall observe what happens to food from the time it enters the mouth, until it reaches the colon or intestinal system.

Parts and Pieces

Digestive System

1. Mouth—intake
a. Teeth for grinding
b. Tongue for mixing food with enzymes/saliva.
c. Salivary glands which produce enzyme-bearing fluid.

2. Epiglottis—flap for sealing off respiratory system and preventing aspiration during swallowing.

3. Esophagus—tube carrying food/saliva mix from mouth to stomach.

4. Stomach—the mixing bowl; site of molecular breakdown—pepsin and other chemicals are added to the food mix.

5. Pancreas—a gland with both exocrine (duct) and endocrine (ductless and hormonal) actions break down proteins and control blood sugar.

6. Liver—detoxifier, responsible for changing excess sugar to glycogen for storage; amino acid and vitamin storage; secretion of bile to digest fats.

7. Gall bladder—a small sac which acts as storage for bile produced by the liver; pushes bile through ducts into the small intestine to digest fats.

8. Small intestine—divided into duodenum, jejunum and ileum (head to foot), the latter which empties into the colon or large intestine.


While the nervous system acts as the communications system of the city known as our physical body, and the intestinal system is the waste removal and recycling plant, the digestive system is the power plant, turning the food we eat into forms of energy the cells can use to build, reproduce, repair and perform whatever specialized function is encoded into their genes.

Foods contain three types of nutrients necessary to human functioning:
1. Carbohydrates, such as starches and sugars which are used for energy.
2. Proteins, which form the building blocks.
3. Fats, which are necessary (in limited amounts) for heat, for padding some of the abdominal organs, and as a sheath for the nervous system.
When our food intake does not contain the necessary nutrients including vitamins and minerals, the body's ability to repair itself and grow is diminished. Improper nutrition exerts a non selective effect on the body, affecting all systems; impairing energy production, weakening resistance to disease and slowing healing.

Symptoms of inadequate nutrition or deficiency begin subtly, growing into our awareness when abuses of the system begin to cause major symptoms. And even then we rarely change our eating/drinking behaviors until discomfort or illness forces us to do so. Dental hygiene in advertising promotes sex appeal, not dental health. Many folks pay little attention to their teeth unless they hurt, not realizing poor tooth care leads to tooth loss, which sorely impairs nutrition. If you can't chew, physically grinding foods and mixing them with enzymes in the mouth, the rest of the system has to work that much harder. Since each part of the system performs a vital part, missing any part makes digestion less efficient.

Digestion actually can begin before any food has been ingested. Think of that wonderful smell of bread baking that makes your mouth water. Your digestive system has been activated, and the various organs and glands are busy pumping enzymes into the system. Salivary amylase is being secreted in the saliva, to begin carbohydrate digestion right there in the mouth. The actual gastric phase of digestion occurs when food actually gets into the stomach. The presence of food triggers the release of gastrin from the stomach wall, which in turn stimulates the release of other digestive juices. Proteins, some spices, alcohol and caffeine additionally stimulate the release of gastrin in the stomach.

Once the mash of food and enzymes (chyme) is pushed by peristalsis (wave action) into the intestine, the production or release of gastrin stops. Although a large amount of molecular breakdown takes place in the stomach, very little absorption of nutrients occurs there. How long food remains in the stomach before being further processed and absorbed in the intestine depends on the constituents of the food. Liquids pass through fastest, followed by carbs, then proteins.

Fats stay the longest in the stomach, and can remain up to six hours. That's why a large, high fat meal leaves us feeling overloaded and bloated for long periods after eating.

Ileo Cycle ValveOnce the chyme is emptied into the duodenum and stimulates the stretch receptors found in the walls, a reflex is triggered which stops gastric digestion and causes pancreatic juices to be added to the mixture. These enzymes break down proteins, fats, carbohydrates and nucleic acids into handy, molecule-sized pieces for absorption and use by the body. Additionally, the pancreas secretes an alkaline substance to neutralize the acid which arrived in the chyme.

At virtually the same geographical location as the pancreatic duct, is the intersection of the duodenum with the common bile duct from gallbladder and liver. These organs pump in bile salts and other substances to emulsify fats so they can be digested and their nutrients used more efficiently. The duodenum, jejunum an dileum which comprise the small intestine total about 20 feet in length. The inner wall of the small intestine has minuscule projections known as villi, which serve both to mix the chyme with more digestive enzymes, and to absorb the resulting nutrients. With its huge surface area (due to villi), the small intestine is the largest organ of absorption in the entire digestive tract. But absorption of nutrients is only part of the small intestine's work. In addition, the villi are also responsible for absorbing electrolytes and some water to balance the body's systems. Once the mash reaches the ileocecal valve and moves into the colon or large intestine, digestion is completed, and the mass is predominately waste, from which much of the water will be recycled and reabsorbed.

Ills and Ailments

Reflux, a condition in which stomach contents and acid push back into the esophagus (and sometimes leak into the trachea) is common in those persons with hiatus hernia. This is the sliding of an organ or part (usually stomach) between chest and abdomen through the opening for the esophagus. Occasionally the part becomes trapped and exceedingly painful. Since the mucous lining of the esophagus isn't designed to handle high acid conditions, problems such as ulceration can occur at the juncture between.

Gastritis, inflammation of the stomach lining, is commonly considered indigestion. Frequently accompanied by distention, abdominal pain, gas, this is the classic that sends us running for the various antacids. Gastritis can be acute, chronic or toxic due to ingestion of caustics in nature, and usually starts with overeating, frequent aspirin and other non-steroidal drug use, excess alcohol intake, bacterial or viral agents. Removal of the causes can relieve this condition.

Continuation of stomach-aggravating behavior can lead to ulcer formation, in the stomach or duodenum. Approximately 25 percent of people who take non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) develop ulcers. Considering the number of people in this country with arthritis, the potential for ulcer development is enormous and growing as the population ages.


Stomach Comfort

Stomach Comfort

Neutralizes Stomach Acid
Reduces Acid Reflux

Recommended Usage: Chew one or two tablets as needed for quick, temporary stomach relief. Remember that digestive problems may be a sign of more serious health concerns.
Stomach Comfort provides a combination of natural ingredients to help neutralize acid, soothing the stomach, improving digestion, and reducing acid reflux often triggered by high-fat meals, alcohol, caffeine, chocolate, and orange or tomato juice. Contains NO aluminum.

Peptic, or duodenal ulcers usually occur just where the stomach dumps into the small intestine; they result from either too much acid and gastric digestive juices pouring into the intestine, or weakening of the intestinal mucosal lining. An ulcer represents digestion of the organ involved (stomach ulcers are always a result of weakened resistance of the stomach lining to digestion). The bacterial agent Heliobacter pylori has been implicated in some individuals, due to toxin formation which directly harms the stomach lining. As usual, when the discovery of H. pylori was made, the medical community promptly ignored it, continuing to base treatment on the belief that ulcers were acid related. No end of poor souls suffered in the insult of a Sappy diet, and archaic mess comprised almost totally of milk and milk products in liquid form, with alternating liquid chalk preparations many of which were aluminum based.

Bland diets were imposed and physicians wondered why patients were non compliant. Now there is genetic evidence H. pylori, which thrives in stomach acid, infects about half the world's population, and is considered responsible for most cases of peptic (duodenal) ulcers and many of the gastric variety. Treatment will undoubtedly include antibiotic therapy to rid the body of the invader. More important will be determining how we contract the entity and possibly breaking that cycle of infection.


Gastro Health
For persistent gastric ulcers and stomach inflammation.

First, you need to know that a lot of stomach inflammation and ulceration is brought on by the effects of a spiral-shaped bacteria called Helicobacter pylori.  When this is the case, no amount of antacids or acid suppressing drugs will give lasting relief. 
If antibiotics are used, they also destroy important friendly digestive bacteria. 
Gastro-Health (Herbal H-p Fighter) contains herbs (pau d'Arco, cloves and Inula racemosa) that inhibit H. Pylori without the side effects of antibiotics.  Deglycyrrhinated licorice extract (DGLE) is included to sooth and heal the irritated stomach lining. 

is a well known problem afflicting the American population. It is literally a speeding up of the peristaltic action which is used to move food, then waste through the system. Causes can be viral or bacterial agents, or chemicals which irritate the lining of the intestine. Emotional stress, virtually epidemic in this country, can also cause diarrhea.

Cases which continue can cause severe dehydration and electrolyte imbalance. Given our eating habits and stress levels, it's little wonder both over-the-counter and prescription antidiarrheal medicines enjoy enormous sales.

CharcoalActivated Charcoal
Activated charcoal has an amazing ability to "attract" and absorb.  This makes it ideal for removing poisons from the body. 
It is approved by the FDA in place of ipecac for internal poisoning. The poisons adhere to the large surface area of the specially-processed, finely ground powder so that both are eliminated together. 
Charcoal will actually absorb intestinal gas, giving relief from bloating and acting to remove the intestinal coating that prevents normal absorption and removal of gas via the blood and lungs. 
It is also used internally for diarrhea, hangover, high cholesterol, food poisoning and to remove wastes from underactive kidneys or liver. 
It is used externally for insect bites/stings and surface infections. 
Don't use for more than a few days at a time; it absorbs nutrients too.

The "3 Essentials"
(For most common health issues: visit this page)

1. Our very existence is dependent upon the body's ability to utilize minerals because minerals activate enzymes! More about minerals
2. Digestive Enzymes: If food is not digesting properly, it creates waste that builds up downstream in the colon... an open door to toxicity & diseases! More Info
3. Probiotics: "Friendly gut bacteria play a crucial role in preventing diseases, from cancer to obesity". Dr. Robynne Chutkan M.D. More info

Super Supplemental
Vitamins & Minerals

Super Supplemental

  It packs vitamins, minerals, amino acids, herbs for practically unbeatable supplement and antioxidant support.
Food Enzymes
Proper Digestion & Assimilation
Food Enzymes
  No supplement we take is going to do us any good if we cannot digest and assimilate properly.
Probiotic Eleven
Taking care of your "Second Brain"!
Probiotic Eleven
  These essential "friendly" microbes help regulate intestinal functions & improve immunity. "All diseases begin in the gut!" Hippocrates