“D.A.M.E.” Your Food and Full Speed Ahead for Good Health

By Dr. James A. Jackson

The old saying “you are what you eat” is true up to a certain point. It is very important to eat whole foods with plenty of fruits and vegetables. The physicians at The Center recommend that people eat foods that are the “color of the rainbow.” When you look at your plate, you should see at least four or more different colors: green, orange, yellow, red, purple, etc. These foods will contain important bioflavonoids (plant chemicals) and enzymes. Therefore, the more colors, the better.

Many things must happen after you eat foods to get these molecules to your cells.

When we say D.A.M.E. your foods, we are not really cursing them. We are talking about four very important steps your body must perform in order for the molecular nutrients to get to your cells. These are Digestion, Absorption, Metabolism, and Excretion. Food is ingested in forms that are not available to your cells. Nutrients cannot be absorbed from the digestive tract until they have been reduced to smaller molecules. This process is called digestion. Your cells cannot use a carrot or tomato, but they can use the molecules beta-carotene and lycopene. Therefore, many things must happen after you eat foods to get these molecules to your cells. Proteins must be broken down to amino acids, starches to monosaccharides, and fats to glycerol and fatty acids. During this process, vitamins and minerals are also made more absorbable, especially the fat-soluble vitamins. This process is mainly the work of various enzymes.

Digestion begins in the mouth with proper chewing to initially break down the food into smaller parts and mix the food with enzymes such as amylase. Coating the food with saliva from three sets of salivary glands is important, especially with dry foods, so they will easily pass down the esophagus to the stomach. Proper dental hygiene is important to maintain the teeth. Your mother was right when she told you to “chew your food.”

Water is also very important to digestion, as most of the digestive fluids are 95% to 99.5% water. Saliva, for example, is 99.5% water. Certain drugs (alcohol and morphine) and minerals (potassium, calcium, and bicarbonate) are also secreted in the saliva. The pH of the saliva is around 7.0 or neutral.

The esophagus is a muscular tube about nine inches long that carries food and liquids from the mouth to the stomach. It must also be working properly for proper digestion. If one has “G .E.R.D.”
or other esophageal problems, digestion is affected.

When the food reaches the stomach, hydrochloric acid (HCI) and enzymes continue the digestion process. The stomach muscles mix all the food and stomach chemicals together. Many of us, as we get older, produce less stomach acid. That is why our physicians will sometimes order a test to measure stomach acid on our co-learners. Other important digestive factors in the stomach are histamine, pepsin, rennin, and lipase. Digestion continues after food leaves the stomach and enters the intestine.

As the acidic content leaves the stomach, the pancreas and liver generate enzymes and chemicals to continue the digestion process. Sodium bicarbonate is produced to neutralize the stomach acid. The liver produces bile to help fat soluble nutrients be absorbed. As the digestion process continues, Absorption is the next major step. After the mouth, stomach, pancreas, and intestine have broken down the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins to small molecules, they must then cross the intestinal mucosa and enter the blood stream. This is where several problems may occur, not only with food but with many supplements as well.

Anyone with intestinal yeast infection, stomach ulcers, irritable bowel syndrome, parasites, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, diarrhea, constipation, etc. will probably have absorption problems. The absorption surface of the intestine is about equivalent to the area of a tennis court.