Digestion is the process of food breakdown until the food particles become molecules that are small enough to be absorbed into the bloodstream, which are then used in nourishing the body. The mouth is where the process of digestion starts, this is where food is masticated after which it passes through the esophagus into the stomach where it becomes a semi-processed mixture what we call chyme. The chyme then travels into the small intestine for further chemical digestion then goes through the large intestine before the solid waste is excreted through the anus.
In order for food digestion to be completed, the body produces digestive enzymes that serve as aid in the food breakdown as well as to facilitate its absorption to the body. Enzymes are released in the main sites of digestion and these are in the oral cavity, in the stomach and in the small intestines.
The small intestine is the main area where chemical digestion occurs. This is where food is really broken down to its basic component. In order for this chemical change to happen, the pancreas secretes most of the necessary enzymes needed in the process. Situated behind the liver and the stomach, the pancreas is an indispensable organ responsible of releasing the pancreatic juice required to start the chemical digestion. The enzymes are secreted into the small intestine through the pancreatic duct that joins the pancreas and the common bile duct. A muscle between the pancreatic and bile duct called the sphincter of oddi regulates this flow of bile and pancreatic juices into the small intestine.
In order for the fluid to function digestively, it is made up of enzymes that are capable of breaking down specific food types. It includes trypsin, an activated protease that breaks protein down at the basic amino acids. There is also the lipase, which breaks fatty acids down. The amylase on the other hand is the enzyme responsible for the breakdown of starch, glycogen and most carbohydrates. There are many other complex make up of enzymes in the pancreatic juice that helps the pancreas in its exocrine function.
Because the process of digestion is very complex, there are many organs involved in the process. The bile, although it is not a digestive organ, it has an important function in the digestive process. Because fats do not mix well with other water-based liquids, they tend to form large globules affecting the ability of the lipase to work thus preventing the absorption of fats. Its’ role is to break these globules up.
Bile secretion is very systematic. Once you consume fats, the fatty acids stimulate the release of cholecystokinin, a hormone that relaxes the sphincter of oddi, which then allows it to flow into the small intestine. It is actually the salts that helps the digestive enzymes in the absorption of fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. If there are no sufficient salts, there will be less absorption of lipids and the person will then develop a deficiency in vitamins.
Although the pancreatic juice and bile work hand in hand in the process of digesting food, these two can also work against each other. It is very important that an acceptable level be maintained on the secretion of these two. It is a focal point of pancreatic health. This is because, it can be a reason for the demise of the pancreas and body as a whole.
Unnecessary secretion can be very detrimental to the pancreas because if bile throws back to the pancreatic duct it can block the duct causing inflammation of the pancreas, which leads to a condition called pancreatitis. Initially inactive, the pancreatic juice can be stimulated by a small trace of bile and will start to digest pancreas cells. Since they are trapped because of the blockage, continuous digestion of cells and pancreatic duct causes inflammation, pain and eventually death of pancreas gland tissue.
The smallest problem with bile and pancreas can have a big effect towards health and lifestyle that is why the utmost care is required. In the event that a person is already experiencing problems with his bile and pancreas, it is necessary that he or she will see a doctor for proper diagnoses and medication. Other patients claim to have gained benefits from herbal medicines and supplementation. However, it is best that we remember that prevention will still and always be better than cure, so make sure that you take good care of your body for it to be able to function at its optimum level.