Lesson 8: Digestion (part 2)

When we left off the lesson last week, we were discussing the role of the nose and sense of smell in digestion, so let’s pick up with another important part of digestion: the mouth. Once food is in our mouth, our teeth rip, shred, and grind it into smaller pieces with help from our powerful jaw muscles. Saliva in turn moistens the food and saturates it with enzymes that start to break it down for absorption. Saliva is about 95% water, with the rest being mucus, enzymes, glycoproteins, and antimicrobial chemicals that help prevent pathogens from getting into our system. In the 1.5 or so liters of saliva we make every day, we find digestive enzymes like amylase which begins the digestion of starch, and lipase which begins the digestion of fats. However, it is important to know that we don’t digest much fat in our mouth since it takes a relatively long time to digest fat – much longer than we usually keep fat in our mouth. Our tongue tastes the food and eventually pushes it back into our throat to swallow.

Lesson 7: Digestion (part 1)

In order to use nutrients, our body has to process them first. This is known as digestion. It’s often said that you are what you eat. More accurately, you are what you digest, absorb, and transfer to your cells. Our body carefully manages these processes to control what gets into our cells, and to keep a dynamic balance within the body.

Lesson 6: Body Function

To better understand how the food we eat interacts with our body, it’s important to learn about the structures, chemicals, and organelles within each of our cells. That being said, if I were to go into each of the 24 organelles within our cells, this lesson would be much too long! So I’ll simply gloss over the most important points but, as always, if you want to learn more on a subject, you can Google it for more in-depth information.

Lesson 5: Nutritional Individuality

While there is a psychological aspect to nutritional individuality – we each have food habits and food prejudices that are different from others and dictate what we are predisposed to feed our body – the physiological characteristics inherent to each one of us and which influence our nutritional requirements is what we will be focusing on. You see, not everyone responds the same way to digestion and absorption of particular foods – or to the uptake of particular nutrients into the cell. That’s because while the basic mechanics of the human body are the same, there are important individual differences most likely due to our unique genetic makeup.

Lesson 4: Nutrition & Cellular Interaction

The adult human body is made up of trillions of cells that all work together to keep us alive. In terms of nutrition, the cells in our body have two basic roles: a) to get nutrients from the food that we eat, and b) to use these nutrients for the raw materials and fuel to keep us alive.

Lesson 3: What is the Best Diet?

If I say the word diet, what is the first thing that pops into your mind? Do you think of the ensemble of food/drinks you consume in a day or are you more readily associating the word diet with harsh restrictions on what you can and cannot have? While both definitions are accurate, I am willing to bet you thought of things like Weight Watchers, or Atkins. Or maybe you thoughts a little broader in terms of Paleo, Vegan, Vegetarian… or any new fad diet that’s currently in. Today’s lesson is all about diet, or more precisely the question that is most often heard in the nutrition/fitness field: What’s the best diet?

Lesson 2: What is Good Nutrition?

If food partly serves to fuel your body with energy, good nutrition is the regulator that will help control energy balance in your body. Without enough energy coming into the body, processes that we don’t absolutely need to survive, such as reproduction, some aspects of metabolism, and brain function, starts to shut down. The issue is that too much energy coming into the body also causes problems. We can become resistant to important hormones (insulin or leptin, to name only those), inflammation may increase, plaque can form on vessels and blood pressure can go up. Too much energy actually increases the risks of getting many chronic diseases. Since good nutrition is about the quality of food and quantity we eat (not eating too much or too little), this means we can stay healthy, fit and strong. By feeling good, our body shows it.

Lesson 1: What is Food?

Food is stuff we eat that fuels our body, right? That’s true, but this is the oversimplistic answer. Food contains energy (to be technical, it actually contains chemical bonds that, when broken, are used to create the fuel for our cells), micronutrients, phytochemicals, zoochemicals, fiber, water, and possibly much more that we have yet to discover. While they don’t all necessarily fuel our body directly, all of these substances play crucial roles in our body.