The digestive system can be separated into two groups:
- The alimentary canal – a hollow muscular tube that starts at the mouth and winds through the body to reach the anus (consisting of the mouth, pharynx, oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine).
- The accessory digestive organs – the teeth, salivary glands, pancreas, liver and gall bladder
All together these organs are mainly responsible for breaking down food into tiny particles that our bodies can absorb and make energy for us as well as to build and repair tissue in need…was what we were taught in school, but there is so much more to the digestive system making it much more complicated.
Let’s go to our microbiota (the tiny creatures that are living on us and inside of us), we are made up of 10 trillion human cells and about 100 trillion microbial organisms are living in us and on us. Contrary to what we have been taught to believe we are mostly microbial. We can not look at digestive health without considering our microbiota.
There is increasing research indicating that our microbes influence who we become and how we feel. Microbes influence how we digest food, absorb drugs, and produce hormones, they also interact with our immune systems and affect our brains. With the interaction between our microbes and brain, a term has come us referring to our microbiome-gut-brain axis.
As if this is not complicated enough, we cannot forget the work of Dr Michael Gershon, who wrote a book titled: “The Second Brain”, in this wonderful book he goes on to explain that the gut can function completely independently from our central nervous system and spinal cord, telling us that the digestive system in the abdomen has a nervous system that is completely separated from our brain, it can regulate itself on its own.